Our Process: Making Custom Rings
There’s a lot of mystery around how to make a ring. Is it drilled from a solid block of metal? Soldered into shape? Is molten metal poured into a mold? Yes, actually, to all of these. There’s a number of ways to make a ring, but ultimately the desired design determines which steps you take to get there.
How are rings made?
There are two main ways to make a ring: metalsmithing and casting. Think of metalsmithing as you would welding. You have sheets, tubes, pipes, etc. of metal, and a torch as your heat source. Through varying techniques, you connect those metal pieces to form your finished object. A metalsmith uses the same process, just with smaller tools and precious metals. For example, to make a gold ring through this process, you take a sheet of gold metal, measure and draw out the rectangle of gold, cut through with a jeweler’s saw and bench pin, then hammer and bend into shape around a ring mandrel. Once your joints are lined up, you solder them together forming your solid ring. From there, you are able to hammer, engrave, and polish to the desired finish.
The other main way is known as lost wax casting (and this is the technique we use). While metalsmithing is start to finish metal, casting deals primarily with wax. Think of this technique as you would a sculptor of marble or clay. As Michelangelo chiseled David out of a solid block of marble, so is the approach to carving a ring out of wax. You start with a hard block, then carve and chisel away with a series of files and sand papers until you reveal the form from within. Or, more similar to a clay artist, you can start with a soft wax, similar in texture to beeswax. With this you warm it in your hands until malleable; then, working next to the flame of a candle to warm your tools, you carefully sculpt it into your ring design.
Once your wax form is finished, it is placed into a canister and filled with what we call investment (a gritty plaster-like substance), and is fired in a kiln. While the kiln heats up, the investment solidifies into a hard block and makes a mold around your wax design, from which the wax itself burns out, leaving a perfect cavity with your design suspended in the middle.
Still with me? This is where it gets fun.
After a few hours in the kiln, the investment is ready to party. Literally. It gets placed into a spinning centrifugal casting contraption, and wound up so that the springs are ready to spin when you flip the switch. In the middle of the contraption is the crucible, into which you add your perfectly measured out gold or silver casting grain (which has to be EXACT, otherwise it’s not going to come out correctly). You light your torch, and heat your metal. Once it reaches the melting point and is a glowing molten blob, you flip the switch and set the machine spinning. And thanks to the laws of physics, the molten metal shoots straight into your investment and fills the mold, transforming your sculpted design into metal.
It is an absolutely thrilling process to both do and watch. You can get an idea of the process here, where Christine walks you through the process of making her cast necklace pendants.
What are rings made of?
Our rings are made of solid 14k gold and sterling silver. To us, these are the best materials to make jewelry out of. Sterling silver, also known as 925, will have a mirror like surface when polished and new. But overtime, with use and wear, silver will break in and reveal a beautiful, matte white/silver finish.
Let’s talk about solid gold. The luminance, weight, and buttery-smoothness just can’t be matched. The cost of gold is obviously very high, which is why so many brands offer gold plating, brass, bronze, or other ways of getting the golden hue without the price. But here’s the thing: we want to make you a ring that will last for generations to come...and the only way to do that is to use the real thing. Gold plated rings will tarnish and disappoint you within a few months of wear. Brass and bronze are gold toned and strong, but will tarnish and darken over time. Those metals will also likely change the color of your skin, and for a lot of people it will cause an allergic reaction. So solid 14k gold is our metal of choice. We are happy to do a higher karat of gold (18k or 22k), but our personal recommendation is 14k based on durability and price.
You can make rings out of a myriad of other materials (stainless steel, wood, tungsten, titanium, silicon etc. etc.), but here at Blœdstone we are working only with these two precious metals.
How long does it take to get a ring made?
All our rings are made to order, so please expect 3-4 weeks before you receive your ring. We’re taking a made to order approach for a few reasons:
- It cuts down on overproduction, which helps us maintain sustainability in our manufacturing.
- All of our rings have some custom component - from sizing to metal to stone choice - so the best way to create the perfect ring for you is to do it once we know exactly what you want.
- There’s a number of hands your ring goes through before it gets to you. From carving (done by Christine), to casting (done by Koko), to stone setting (done by Song), to the final polish (done by Cody), there’s a lot of work that goes into every piece we build.
Thanks for your patience as we create your ring. It’ll be rad, we promise. And if you are working on a tight timeline (looking at you grooms who waited until the last minute), send us an email and we’ll do whatever we can to get you your ring by the day you need it.
How is a diamond ring made?
Whether you’re wanting to add a small inlay diamond to your ring or design a stunning diamond ring for the love of your life, the process is the same as described above. Through lost wax casting we create the ring form, thinking about every small detail you want to add, then cast in gold. Diamonds can be flush set into the gold so it’s barely there, or prong set so it’s shining loud and proud. And many more options. If you can dream it, we can make it happen. Send us a request here, firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to create a custom diamond (or any other gemstone) ring.