Making silver rings

Making silver ring - a plain silver band ring

Jewellery making has been one of my main crafty interests for about four years now. Currently I am in my third term of an evening class in silversmithing and jewellery design at Leeds College of Art in West Yorkshire. Although I often view my silversmithing efforts with some despair, I have actually made a lot of progress in the last 12 months.

As part of our assignments this term, we have to make some silver jewellery and then photograph it to produce a small portfolio. This blog is the start of that as I’ve been practicing my jewellery  photograph too (much harder than I thought!).

Making silver rings at my new jewellery bench

Over the summer I had a local joiner come and do a cheap project to put together a jewellery bench at the back of my garage. To make use of it I’ve been enticed by Cooksonsgold in particular to part with shed loads of money for tools. But you can’t work without tools and my growing collection and my bench means that I now a great space for me to do my silversmithing homework.

The bench was made from a length of beech worktop, which is surprisingly cheap for solid wood. This was fixed in place by screwing a length of 2×2 to the garage wall and then fixing the worktop to it. Its supported at the front by three legs normally used in kitchens to support breakfast bars. The joiner designed the shelf on legs that is fixed to the bench and that houses our bench pegs and vices. When making jewellery its better to have what you are doing at eye-level.

My jewellery bench looks a bit over full on the right side compared to the left but that’s because I had it built with two working stations and my brother, who is also really into silversmithing, uses the one on the left when he comes over for work sessions. Its good that we can encourage each other – although I am a bit miffed that he is exceptionally good at stone setting and has overtaken me in skills rather fast since his interest developed last year.

Making silver rings at my new jewellery benchs

My jewellery making workbench packed with tools

The cat litter trays are our solution to the traditional jeweller’s leather – they catch the silver bits that we cut and file off.

The hub of my bench is a Stanley vice, one specifically designed for jewellery, which my brother bought for me and which is a cheerful yellow. I use this for everything – cutting wire, filing, holding rings for setting and finishing. Its a great little gadget.

Making silver rings means having the right tools

My beloved bench vice

Making three silver band rings

Over the last few weeks I have been setting some stones myself and was given the project of making three plan inverted D-shaped band rings by my tutor at Leeds. I started them last Thursday at class and I’ve been finishing them today. I got a bit engrossed in what I was doing so in between preparing to solder and polishing the rings, I forgot to take any pictures. But you didn’t miss anything – its very dusty and the bench gets messy when I’m working.

Making silver rings: reparing to solder

Making silver rings: preparing to solder

Three silver rings

Three three finished silver band rings

The three band rings are made from D-shaped sterling silver wire, which you can buy in any lengths from Cooksongold. A traditional wedding ring is made so that the flat part of the D lies against your finger while the curved part is on the outside.

I have made mine the other way out so that flat side as outermost and the curved surface lies next to the finger. These rings are very comfortable to wear and are idea for mounting a bezel on top because the outside is flat.

They are so nice on their own and left just plain though. I made them the same size and I can stack them together – they fit me perfectly, of course 🙂 I only had my nails done yesterday but I managed to silversmith without ruining them, for once. Hand cream will be in order though before I can get in some crocheting.

Making silver rings the finished result

Making silver rings the finished result

Making silver rings for stone setting

Having a perfect band is one part of the process that goes towards making a lovely designer ring. I’m not quite there yet as I still need to master the stone setting skills required. These are my first few rings that I am pleased with, alongside the plain rings I finished today:

Stone set rings and the plain silver bands

Stone set rings and the plain silver bands

The one on the far left is a large circular jasper that I bezel set onto a round ring band. This was one of my first efforts and the bezel is nowhere near perfect – still a nice ring though and I like to wear it on  my index finger. The middle ring is a lapiz lazuli set in a fancy bezel on a flat ring shank. I love this one and technically its a great improvement.

Lapis lazuli ring

Lapis lazuli ring

The final one on the right is a piece of sea glass. This was my first attempt at setting sea glass and its a lovely green piece.

Green sea glass ring

Green sea glass ring from the side

Green sea glass ring from top

Green sea glass ring from top

Can’t win ’em all

Not all rings work out. I have several pieces of sea glass that I want to set into silver rings but they are not flat enough to set into a bezel. They need to be claw set and using a bespoke setting that I will have to design. The first attempt looked great and displayed a small piece of deep aqua sea glass perfectly.

Aqua blue sea glass ring in a bespoke claw setting

Aqua blue sea glass ring in a bespoke claw setting

Sadly in this case, bespoke and designed by me also meant defective.The wire I used for the prongs was too thin and on the first day I tried to wear it, the ring caught on the sleeve of my jumper, the prongs bent and the sea glass made a bid for freedom. Luckily I was just at home in my office, so I managed to retrieve it.

That ring is now on my bench waiting for attention. Its been beheaded and reformed and I am in the process of designing setting mark two. Thicker wire this time and a better design. Once I get it right I have a few more pieces of sea glass just waiting to become rings. Here with that little aqua piece are four more, including a gorgeous ruby red oval.

Making silver rings - lots of lovely sea glass ready to set

Making silver rings – lots of lovely sea glass ready to set

5 thoughts on “Making silver rings

  1. SILVIA CALVO says:

    HOLA CRAFTERNOON. ME ENCANTA TU TRABAJO. ESTOY EMPEZANDO CON LA JOYERIA. SOY DE ESPAÑA (BARCELONA). ¿DONDE PUEDO CONSEGUIR PLATA CON ESTAS FORMAS PARA ENGARZAR LA PIEDRA?FELICIDADES POR TU TRABAJO!!!

  2. Sara says:

    Oh my I am so envious, I really fancy trying jewellry making ( other than teenage attempts at earrings). I love silver rings and the 3 rings together made my heart flutter quite alot!! Do you sell your work or are you at least planning to, I think you should.

    • Crafternoon Treats says:

      Hi Sara Thanks for your lovely comments. I love jewellery and am still amazed that I can make rings myself. They actually look better in real life too – I kept getting reflections of myself in the polished silver! I am currently working on a plan to sell some pieces but I need to get a shop open on my blog and to make some more jewellery. Eventually I may also sell on Etsy and my aim is to donate 50% of all sales to Marie Curie Cancer nurses 🙂 It would be great if you could come back and visit and check out my page on FB too – its Crafternoon Treats, same as the blog x

    • Crafternoon Treats says:

      Thanks Jane – its organised when I start at least. Going to need to spend some time this afternoon doing a bit of a tidy up after yesterday’s frenetic activity xxx

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