Making My Own Wedding Bands ?
Q: I would very much like to make a pair of wedding bands, and after
poking around a little bit, I decided that a (relatively) easy way of
doing this would be to simply purchase a pure gold coin and hammer it
into gold bands. Now, I'm _sure_ that by screwing around a little
bit, I can figure it out, but some tips ahead of time might be nice so
that I don't create a very expensive lump of ugliness.
What's the best way to get a coin into band form? Can you fold the
gold over onto itself over and over as you work the metal? Cut the
coin in a spiral and straighten it?
I would like to do this fairly cheaply (minus the cost of a 1oz $330
coin, of course). I already have both a little blazer torch and a
bigger propane torch. I've never worked gold or jewelry before, but I
have cast iron in a lab and welded floors in my car and done bigger
and uglier things like that.
What other tools will I absolutely need?
A:Hammering or filing a coin is not the easiest way of making a wedding band. It would take a lot of work and you would probably end up with a very thin ring. I would suggest you cast a ring from molten gold. You will need a small cast iron crucible/pot to melt your gold in, you will also require blacksmiths/jewellers tongs and some strong leather gloves to pick the crucible/pot up, when you pour the gold into a mould. You will need to make a mould, pushing a ring into a block of clay and carefully removing it and firing the clay in an oven or kiln will make the mould. You will need very high and constant temperatures to melt your gold, and you will have to make sure the gold will stay molten long enough for pouring into the mould. Melt by heating the crucible from underneath using a gas/propane torch, it may take a while before you see any signs of melting. Breaking the coin up into small pieces will speed up melting time. If it is pure gold you can try to melt the gold as many times as is required. If everything has gone as planned you will need to quench the ring in cold water. Finish by filing and sanding then finally polishing if required. It is also helpful if you lightly hammer the ring on a mandrel or ring sizer to temper it before filing. Its a lovely romantic idea, forging a pair of gold(magic?)bands like in Wagners "Rheingeld", or the Lord of the Rings, BUT... Have you asked your fair maid if she wants a ring that looks like its hand forged by someone thats never done it before, as opposed to the type she can see in the jewellers in the mall? Then theres the weight. Go to a mall and ask a reputable jeweller to weigh 2 average his and hers gold wedding bands. Have you any idea how little that will be? (to have a gold band of half an ounce will be massive for her) Then price these allready made, and to size,quality of gold,and guarantee against your 1 oz gold coin. What is its purity? you need to know. As we know nothing about you, from one extreme as a serious do it your selfer with a lot of experience in metal work, to an academic brilliant at what you do but quite impractical? Its quite impossible to advise you. Do you brew your own beer? for example or do you find it easier/cheaper/more convenient/ to buy it in a can? Ie, Do you think its going to be cost effective to go down this road? Ask the right questions and the answers will tell you whats the best thing to do in your situation. Ive often been aked "How can I become a gold smith"? I answer, you can pick up a hammer and hit the metal and you know what you have done, like you can pick up a violin and get a sound out of it, BUT can you pick it up and play Motzart? Its one thing to appreciate fine art/craft its another to be able to interpret the material into reality. If your serious in persuing this idea run some trials with 1stly pewter, then copper blanks, the same size as your gold coin, to find out if you really have the time/talent to achieve your idea. The chances of you getting the right results 1st time are a million to 1. Sorry to be blunt about this. As a smith(not jeweller) working noble metals etc for some 34 years experience, thats my honest opinion. I think that your enthusiasm is admirable however unless you are seriously good at metal work I think that your efforts will be in vain. Firstly your choice of a pure gold coin as the source of your metal is not a good one. Pure gold is too soft to wear as a ring for a lifetime. The rings would become distorted and badly scratched very quickly. You would save a whole load of money and probably time as well if you were to purchase wedding ring "blanks" (at least that is what they are called in the UK) from a bullion dealer. A "blank" is an unpolished machine made ring which requires polishing and hand finishing. You will save money and at least you will have done the last part of the manufacture yourself. If you really want to make the whole thing your self buy some gold casting grain again from a bullion dealer 10 or 20 grams would be more than enough. Then get two large cuttlefish bones - you can find these on the sea shore or buy them from a pet shop since cage birds are fed them. Rub the two friable surfaces together to create two close fitting flat surfaces. Then borrow someone else's wedding ring and press it between the cuttlefish bones. Carefully separate the cuttlefish and lift out the ring. Then get a piece of rod. Anything will do Dowel, or plastic or metal rod about 1/8th or 3/16th thick and place that so that it touches the hollowed out ring shape in the cuttlefish and the other end sticks out of the long end of the cuttlebone. Press the two cuttlefish together firmly again then separate carefully. Remove the rod which should now have created a channel down which to pour the molten gold. widen the top end into a funnel to aid pouring. Bind the two cuttlefish together with iron wire. Fix them firmly upright in sand. Then melt the gold casting grain with the biggest propane torch you can get your hands on In a Graphite or fireclay crucible when you see the gold spinning in the flame pour the gold into the cuttlefish mould. If you are lucky you will have a gold ring. As an added bonus it will have a bark-like pattern on its surface which can look quite good. If not get some more cuttlefish, melt the gold down and try again. A better guide to the above process can be found in books on jewellery making. I recommend you read one or two before you start.
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