Michael’s Notes: This is the first of a series of articles about how we work with our customers in order to create one of a kind custom jewelry. As you read each story, feel free to click on the pictures in order to view the full size photo’s of the creation process. We look forward to adding many more custom design stories in 2012!
In mid November of 2011, Toni and Tim Bondy approached me about creating custom rings for their daughter and daughter in laws, as well as a pendant for their granddaughter.
We had met in 2009 while digging for Star Garnets in Clarkia, Idaho and those rough garnets were the gems that Tim and Toni wanted to use to create heirloom gifts for the special girls in their lives.
I sent them home with a task… draw a design for the rings and pendant and then bring it back to me.
Toni showed up with her design just after Thanksgiving and I approved it. The design was simple, yet striking and would highlight the garnets nicely.
Once I had the design, I began creating the the wax mold of the ring. This would be used to pour the silver for the ring.
The wax mold then needed to be secured in a small container which would be filled with a clay-like substance called Investment. The investment would create the actual mold for the silver and the wax itself would be burnt out of the investment in a super heated oven.
Once the wax was completely burnt out from the investment it was time to heat the silver for the rings and then pour it into the newly created investment mold! Tim and Toni stood back while I heated the silver, but managed to get close enough to photograph the molten metal. It was also at this point that they both took off their winter coats and started fanning themselves as the room heated up quickly thanks to the hot oven and the heating metal.
After the ring was poured and cooled, Toni released it from its investment casing by swishing it in a large bucket of water. She was excited to help, but quite cautious due to the high temps of the investment encased, super heated silver!
I retrieved the ring from the bucket of water and gave it a quick buffing so that both Tim and Toni could get a hint of how the finished ring would look. They approved of the ring and then the hard work began.
First up was removing the silver stump that was attached to the ring as part of the pouring process. I showed Tim how to gently file the stump at my workbench and then left him to it. When his wrists became tired from the sawing action, Toni took over to complete the work.
Once the stump was removed it was my turn to finish cleaning up the ring in order to prepare it for the addition of the Star Garnet.
Toni tried on the ring that night and declared it a success even though the garnet was still waiting to be permanently placed in the ring.
With everyone agreeing that the ring was exactly what Tim and Toni had envisioned, we were ready to produce 3 more rings, one for each daughter, plus the matching pendant for their granddaughter.
The process of creating the next 3 rings went very quickly since we already had our wax mold and could create all 3 at one time during the investment, burnout and silver pour sessions.
These are the completed rings and the pendant!
We all enjoyed having Tim and Toni in our shop during the month of December to follow the progress of their rings. They learned the detailed process of creating custom rings from design to finished product and their special girls each have an heirloom quality peice of jewelry to cherish.