Agate Ring

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I made this ring from sterling silver and a 10x5 marquise cut green agate stone. I like its bold, chunky, simple design. It is inspired by a piece by Carles Codina.

I started off by annealing a length of 3mm round sterling silver wire. I went for round rather than D-shaped as I thought it would look better with the chosen setting design. I heated it to cherry red and quenched in pickle.

I marked a tapered ring mandrel at the required diameter

and began to carefully form the wire around the mandrel with a rawhide mallet. I should have added a layer of cardboard in between, as the mandrel flattened the inside surface of the wire. Fortunately the flat was not too big, and was worked out easily enough later on. 

I annealed it a further twice as it work hardened during the forming process. Here it is being annealed for the last time.

I found the point where the ends lined up best, and cut the ring with a medium piercing blade.

Then I closed it with two pairs of pliers and soldered it with hard solder. The photo is horribly out of focus, but you get the idea.

Here it is after a rough clean up with a file. The stone is also shown.


 

I coated a patch with permanent marker and scribed two lines to mark out the position of the setting.

Then I annealed a length of 2mm round wire, formed a U shape and cut it off. This was repeated for a second U.

Then four recesses were cut in the ring with a round needle file to accept the U forms. It took a bit of buggering about to get them in the right places. If I did it again I'd use a pair of parallel pliers as a filing guide to ensure that each notch was exactly opposite its pair. All the ring parts are shown in the next photo. The recesses for the setting are visible on the ring.

The ends of the U forms were filed square in the parallel pliers, then each was scribed to mark out the notches that seat the stone. The step measurement of the vernier calipers was used for a precise, square mark.

Then I cut the notches with a burr tool in a Dremel. This was a complete nightmare as I think the burr was designed for wood, and had completely unsuitable tooth profiles. It cut aggressively, and would easily snag in the soft silver. A proper stone-setting burr should be used here! The Dremel is just visible in my left hand. I'm holding the U in parallel pliers in my right.


 

Here are the Us on the ring. You can see the notches. They were made a slightly tight fit so they would stay put whilst soldering. A bit of binding wire was used to set them parallel to each other.

Here it is ready for soldering. Flux has been added, as have four small paillions of solder.

This is it after soldering and pickling.

The unwanted tops of the Us were cut off, leaving the four posts of the setting.  


 

The ring was then cleaned up and given a light polish with various grades and shapes of silicon carbide-loaded silicone polishing wheels. One of the posts was bent out of the way, and the stone test fitted.

It was a bit of a tight fit, and wasn't flat, so the notches were gingerly modified with the Dremel. Again, lots of snagging and pain. Eventually the stone was a good fit - no rattling. It sits reasonably flat, but could be better.

It was polished more with the silicone wheels, and eventually finished with Goddard's Long Term liquid silver polish. To get into the nooks and crannies of the setting a bit of old sock was used in a dental-floss style. The ring was held in a ring clamp, in the bench vice.


 

Here's the ring after polishing.


 

There was lots of dried up polish and mess in the setting, so it was cleaned in the ultrasonic bath. Luke warm water and a drop of washing up liquid was used as cleaner.

The finished item


 

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