Hello- I'm an independent jewelry designer and I fabricate one of a
kind, individual pieces. Recently I got an inquiry from someone who
expressed interest in placing an order for 20 or more of the same
ring- a hammered silver band, in an assortment of sizes for a group.
For me this is "mass production" - something with which I've had no
experience. The thought of fabricating 25 rings in different sizes
seems daunting. I am looking into alternatives such as casting and
ordering ring blanks and hammering them myself. The ring blank idea
is most appealing but I've yetto find a source that meets my needs
ie the customer wants a thick (about 18 ga or 1 mm and wide (more
than 1/2 inch ring). Any advice would be much appreciated.
Julia Abbott for Julia Kritzman LLC.
I don;t quite understand why 20 rings is scaring you. When I am at
my sickest I can produce a few rings a day. I saw the bands file
decorate one task at a time the filing is the longest part but care
in sawing saves some time in the end. Make the decorated blanks
first then size them to the order and solder and finish. Tell them
how long it will take you to fabricate and be generous with yourself
in time if you are nervous. Best advice is get money up front there
are many topics in Orchid archives about this part. I think half is
reasonable then you can purchase your needed supplies.
Good luck. Be brave. :D
There is a couple of different ways to go about it. I preform
wholesale to the trade repair and custom work and this is how i would
go about it. I would purchase the stock dimensions i would need in
brass or silver and make two different sized bands that equally
lended themselves to the sizes most asked for in the order and try to
make them a little smaller than needed. Then i would mold the two
rings and cast as many rings as i would need. I say make them smaller
than needed because you can then stretch them up to at least a full
size on a ring stretcher, so if you have ring sizes that land in
increments of 1/4 or 1/2 or so on you can easily and quickly get them
to size without making each ring to size from scratch. I also say
make them smaller because in the description it sounds like these
will be flat bands and you can not compress them down without
tapering the edges inward. I hope i explained it clearly. If you have
any more questions just holler!
Hoover & Strong does a custom order seamless ring blank programme
for many metals including sterling. For instance a size 7, 2.50 mm
height x 3 mm wide band costs approx. $ 15.50 USD- not too bad if you
just have to finish it. You do have to call in and/or fax the orders
(they don't accept them online for custom anything) and they price it
based on the market price day AFTER the order is placed. They are
non-returnable, can't be cancelled and is not refundable so be
certain, should you choose H & S, that all the sizes and specs for
each person in the group is accompanied by a form that each orderer
signs off on that details the size including the height, width and
metal in whatever size they require (with whatever percentage of the
total you want as a deposit for the custom job).I use a three part
ticket myself and the client gets a copy of their order, I get one
for the files and one goes to the studio for jobbing with the blank
in the envelope attached to the tickets. works for me anyway!..That
way there is no mistake, everyone gets what they want, it's pretty
reasonable considering it's a custom one-off piece each member will
get and the turn around time is pretty fast considering you don't
have to make the ring blanks!..I have used Hoover and Strong for many
years and never been disappointed in the actual product (well once a
sheet of metal was scratched, but replaced..). If you are a customer
already there is an online ring blank calculator you can use to
estimate the costs...
There are also pre-hammered blanks/rings you can order as well. in a
variety of band widths- 25 isn't a big deal. just be prepared to sit
at the bench and hold a rawhide hammer for a while as you texture the
bands .I Personally wouldn't cast them. It's easier to use ring
blanks/tubes. Once you have the blanks in your studio figure about
an hour of labour for each band (unless you know what kind of time
you need from something similar you did in the past)....rer
Julia - what a wonderful opportunity. Embrace the challenge.
First make one ring, documenting time, materials, waste metal. Show
it to your client. Get a deposit that covers your materials at a
minimum. Get specifications on sizes, time frame, other expectations.
Then - make the rings, be smart about figuring how long to cut
blanks for different sizes. Make a couple and see how sizes change as
you forge the rings.
With a ring sizer, you can shrink fabricated rings easily, not so
easy to size up. If you don't have a shear, use rectangle wire -
1.25mmx5mm should make heavy rings, 6 feet should make 24 rings and
metal costs about $115 or about $5 each. See, it's easy to get the
order done, just think past the big number and go for it. Just don't
give away your labor, regardless of cause.
Use mass finishing - rotary and vibratory tumblers to finish. If you
don't have the finishing or sizing tools, find a
friend/school/community workshop that does. Or price the job to allow
you to purchase the equipment to do the job.
When you are done, you will have learned multiple (pun intended)
skills and enriched your bank account.
For more standard orders - I'd suggest casting, but since each ring
size would need a mold, that is not economically feasible for such a
The numbers look like this - for 6 sizes, molds at $30 to 40 each or
about $200. And can you use the molds again?
I had a similar challenge years ago as I was trying to figure out
what this business is about. I was asked to produce 1800 sheriff
style badges in brass and 30 in sterling for a large national
convention. They were etched, cut out, domed and fastened on a large
plastic name tags. It changed the way I looked at things. I found a
company that could etch the surface and drop-out etch the cut outs in
both materials. Then had the etched sheets sent to me.
I punched them out of the sheets of metal, ground the flanges, domed
each piece with my first Bonny Doon press, sent the batches off to
have attachment pins precisely welded on the backs and delivered the
order on time. I priced the pieces so that I could buy an electric
pump for my press and the large doming die. It was a very big order
for a one-person shop, but I got it done in a matter of weeks,
acquired a very useful piece of equipment - the electric pump for the
press - and made a decent take home return on my labor. It certainly
wasn't all fun and games, but I'd do it any time again.