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Bronze ring options?


#1

A friend has a client who wants a bronze wedding ring. The man
requested this not knowing it would turn his finger green.

What are the options?

So far the only thing I can think of is making a bi-metal ring, with
a lining on the inside made of something else, such as gold.

Thanks!

Elaine

Elaine Luther
Metalsmith, Certified PMC Instructor
http://www.CreativeTextureTools.com
Hard to Find Tools for Metal Clay


#2

Elaine,

I have done rings like this in the past, and used a liner of 28ga.
22k gold. It keeps the bronze off the finger, but doesn’t keep the
fingers from touching the bronze. They still make contact on the
outside. I would also use a silicon bronze: this is a harder bronze
typically used for bushings, ship’s propellers, etc. It will not
tarnish as quickly as typical “art” bronzes. This is really not much
of a problem for the wearer, and many people can wear a bronze ring
without having their fingers turn green, even without a liner. Adding
a liner will make future sizing more difficult.

The real problem that I have encountered with bronze rings is that

the client wishes to have a PATINA on their ring. The patina may
cause their finger to turn green, black, etc. and it is only a thin
surface treatment that will disappear from abrasion.

Good luck,
Doug

Douglas Zaruba
33 N. Market St.
Frederick, MD 21701
301 695-1107


#3
    A friend has a client who wants a bronze wedding ring. The man
requested this not knowing it would turn his finger green. What are
the options? 

Not much you can do. Even with a liner of gold the ring will corrode
away in fairly short order due to the high amount of salt and
moisture present on the skin. In fact the gold will actually make the
bronze corrode faster than just a pure bronze ring would. This is
because you will have set up an electrolytic cell and there will be a
voltage difference between the gold and the bronze making the bronze
dissolve away that much faster. So while it will keep the finger from
turning green it will cause the ring to self-destruct .

Jim


#4

Not everyone turns green in reaction to copper. Perhaps he is one.

marilyn


#5

Hi Jim,

It was a common practice in ancient Rome to mercury guild bronze
rings, since only the very wealthy could afford solid gold.These
coatings would quickly wear away, exposing the bronze to the
elements. It would seem that an electrochemical reaction would occur
here, similar to putting a gold sleeve into the ring, but I have
several rings like this that do not exhibit any evidence of
deterioration, even when buried for centuries. I have also seen the
rings that I have done come back to me 15 or more years later, and
all I can see is normal surface wear.

I think the amount of reaction that a person would see could be more
a result of their diet, their body chemistry, and what substances
they subject their ring to. And not all bronzes are alike. I have
seen Mokume done with copper as part of the stack. How does this
react?

Doug

Douglas Zaruba
33 N. Market St.
Frederick, MD 21701
301 695-1107
@Douglas_Zaruba


#6
A friend has a client who wants a bronze wedding ring. The man
requested this not knowing it would turn his finger green. What are
the options? 

Well, I don’t want to be a smartass, but…shouldn’t the first
option be to inform him about the material?

And, (same disclaimer) isn’t 10K pretty close to bronze anyhow? Or
brass, anyway.

Sincerely, I would encourage her to have further conversation with
the client about the matter. We are the metal experts, not them. It
is our job to help them get what they will be happy with, in the end.
A bronze ring may not be the way to go, with this in mind. Why does
he want bronze? Maybe he hates gold, and doesn’t realize that there
are other options. He should be fully informed about the metals that
he might choose. Then, if he still wants to make an unorthidox
choice, he will at least know what to expect, and she will not be in
the position of being asked to take back the ring because it turns
his finger green. I think that friends and family will give him no
end of grief if he walks around with a smudgy dirty finger inside his
wedding ring, and call him a cheapskate, and question his choice. It
is a social no-no to be radically cheap about a wedding ring, and I
think it will come back to him and make him unhappy with it. Even if
the ring is a nice artistic creation, and not very cheap, the smudge
on the finger is a social embarrassment, in the end. I wouldn’t do it
in bronze unless he is a bronze sculptor, or something, and is just
crazy about the metal.

M’lou Brubaker, Jeweler
Goodland, MN
www.craftswomen.com


#7

Hi Doug,

I have also seen the rings that I have done come back to me 15 or
more years later, and all I can see is normal surface wear. 

Which alloy? Bronze by itself will last longer than a bi-metallic
combo. Are these rings just bronze or a mixed metal combo? As you
note there are some bronze that has been relatively well preserved
for centuries and some has not. This is influenced by many things
including the alloy, and especially the environmental conditions it
has endured. I have seen some very corrosion resistant bronze in
marine service that has corroded in a very short time span (months)
due to electrogalvanic action and and some bronze statues that have
lasted centuries.

I think the amount of reaction that a person would see could
be  more a result of their diet, their body chemistry, and what
substances they subject their ring to. 

Yes these will have a great effect on the corrosion rate. We need to
remember that the green on the skin is one indicator that the copper
alloy is corroding. This is the big problem with using copper alloys
in rings. You just don’t know how long they will las on any given
individual. It may not be a big deal if you are talking about the
kind of ring that is an inexpensive item but at the prices a working
goldsmith must charge to stay in business even a copper alloy ring is
not going to be cheap. And even if it is inexpensive there is the
whole sentimental aspect of a piece of jewelry that has no
relationship to the cost and I cannot in good conscience make and
sell an item that I know will have a high potential for corroding
away

And not all bronzes are alike.

es it is a rather broad category of copper alloys that have been
called bronze. In the past it mostly was copper tin alloys but there
are copper aluminum, copper zinc alloys, copper silicon alloys and
others that are also called bronze. If I wanted to make bronze
jewelry I would chose silicon bronze as it is very corrosion
resistant due to the silicon dioxide layer that forms on the surface.

I have seen Mokume done with copper as part of the stack. How does
this react? 

Copper is a very poor choice for rings. It works fine for most other
jewelry. I have seen rings with copper, or shakudo laminated to gold
alloys that have started showing severe corrosion in a mater of
months. And I have looked at a few that have literally started to
fall apart due to this. This is why I quit using copper alloys of any
kind in my rings. Steve Midget was kind enough to clue me in to this
several years ago and I quit making them at that point. I make it a
point to pass this on to any mokume artist I come in contact with as
it is a real problem with rings. However this is not limited to
mokume, any combination of non-precious metals with precious metals
is likely to have corrosion problems if it is subjected to moisture
like rings are. The worst offenders are copper and high copper alloys
like shakudo, shibuichi, brass and bronze. But corrosion is not
limited to copper, iron and ferrous alloys are a problem and even
stainless will corrode under the right conditions.


#8

Hi James,

    Which alloy? Bronze by itself will last longer than a
bi-metallic combo. Are these rings just bronze or a mixed metal
combo? As you note there are some bronze that has been relatively
well preserved for centuries and some has not. This is influenced
by many things including the alloy, and especially the
environmental conditions it has endured. I have seen some very
corrosion resistant bronze in marine service that has corroded in a
very short time span (months) due to electrogalvanic action and and
some bronze statues that have lasted centuries.

This is very interesting. Have you seen this corrosion in damascus
steel? I am selling some rings that are made of iron and steel
layered in a mokume sort of effect which the artist calls damascus
steel. No one has brought one back but I cannot but think these
issues would be a problem with this metal also. The rings are lined
with gold or platinum…

Janet


#9
    This is very interesting. Have you seen this corrosion in
damascus steel? I am selling some rings that are made of iron and
steel layered in a mokume sort of effect which the artist calls
damascus steel. No one has brought one back but I cannot but think
these issues would be a problem with this metal also. The rings are
 lined with gold or platinum... 

Yes the same thing occurs with iron and steel. However it seems
slower than with copper and shakudo but it is very dependent on the
individual wearers environment and body chemistry but it will
eventually corrode. The hard question is how long is eventually? And
I do not know of any way to predict that.


#10

I continue to recommend the use of something like Jax Black (any
blackener for base metal which has selenious acid in it), with the
excess rubbed off with a damp pumice slurry. It would not only give
nice shadows in recessed areas of the ring design, but also prevents
or reduces the “green finger” problem. I do not believe that the
amount of selenium present constitutues a health problem (this is a
belief, not a guarantee).

Couldn’t you make up a very simple bronze ring for the client to
wear for a time, to see how his body chemistry reacts with it? I
wear an unoxidized brass and copper pinkie ring 24/7, and every time
I take a shower, wash my hands, do the dishes, etc., it looks
bright and shiney again, even in the muggiest weather. I do not have
a “green finger” problem with it. My $.02…

Judy Bjorkman