Making A White Gold Ring
Q: I have the opportunity of making a white gold wedding ring for a man getting married in 6 weeks. He wants a brushed finish to the ring. Since I have not used white gold before (I work almost exclusively with silver) I feel a bit apprehensive. Comments and advice would be very much appreciated. Will I need to get the ring plated at the end of the process? Any suggestions where this can be done in the UK? What metal finish do you suggest? I guess that I would brush the ring after plating not before?
A: I'm afraid that for once, I'll have to disagree, somewhat, with this. perhaps one of the few times I can ever remember disagreeing with Abrasha on a matter of jewelry making technique... However, the statement is not false, just, in my view, incomplete. Nickle white golds, especially those alloys with higher nickel content, which makes them whiter and harder, have little strength when hot, a property known to blacksmiths or those used to forging hot metals, as being "hot short". It means that the metal, when quenched in water from too hot a temp (Like the annealing temperatures usually used), cannot properly withstand the thermal shock of quenching, and tends to form cracks, which then makes the metal pretty much useless. However, slow cooling of many (It's complex. Not all nickel white gold alloys do this) of these alloys will allow them to significantly harden again due to what's called precipitation hardening, or age hardening. That process can be used intentionally via a heat treatment in an oven generally at around 750 degrees F or so (don't quote that. Might be off. if interested, I'll look up more solid data, or you can find a good chart in the back of Alan Revere's "Professional goldsmithing" book) That can often reach a hardness of almost the same as full work hardening. Simple air cooling after annealing won't make it this hard, of course, as the time is much less. But I've experienced plenty of times where the 18K nickel white golds become so hard from just air cooling, (or even more from not annealing the original castings which air cooled in the casting flask) that they became quite a nightmare for our diamond setters. For these alloys, at least, some sort of quenching is needed. One parameter wasn't mentioned: the thickness of the metal. Maybe the men experts here are going to laugh but I simply don't have enough force to bend, say 8 mm x 0.8 mm (or thicker) white gold stripe into a ring. Well, I guess I can do it but it doesn't worth the effort. In such cases, I make the ring from silver (while enjoying the work) and then cast it in white gold. Make sure you calculate the contraction in advance. 6 weeks is plenty of time for the whole process. I DO understand exactly how you feel about white gold. I do a lot of work with 18K white gold, but because it's my job to do so, and clients have placed orders for things in white gold, not because it's my preference. Silver, yellow golds, or platinum would all be my preferred choices for metal. Pretty much never white golds, at least not the nickel white golds I'm usually using. Palladium white golds are actually not that bad to work with. Softer and more civilized. But I can't say I'm enthoused with their kind of drab color. We get, especially with today's high prices for platinum, plenty of orders for white gold. Personally, if I had my way, the junk would be illegal. Not because of nickel, mind you, just because it's crappy metal to work with, and jewelers are often underpaid enough, and shouldn't then be further tortured with having to spend time and energy with such junky metal. Oh, wait! In the EU it pretty much IS illegal... Wrong reasons (for me), but hey, I'll take it. (grin) Now all we need is for the rest of the world to catch up! OK, back to reality, and back to having to work too hard to make white gold jewelry. Even casting the stuff isn't always the answer. I find more problems with porosity in white gold castings than with any other metal... Ah well. such is life, I guess...
Most Popular Articles
- Home Improvement
- Back Pain
- Gold Celtic Ring
- Computer Course Have Training