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First timer making an engagement ring


I’m trying to be different for my intended and I’m making her
engagement ring at home. I have no experience, but I like to think
I’m clever, and so far things have been going well. I’ve banged my
way through a large part of the process, built my own vacuum casting
machine, and successfully made a casting from OttoFrei’s “10-14K
nickel white” alloy.

I’m adjusting my waxes and preparing for The Big Day where I’ll try
again with the palladium white alloy I intend to use. But… I have
some questions.

  1. I’m going to make the alloy myself using some 24K 999.9 gold bars
    I was given when I was born (sentimental thing). I also got a few
    grams of 999.9 palladium, zinc, copper, and silver. I also found a
    couple “sample” recipes for good palladium 14 and 18K alloys… but
    how do I choose which to use? Apparently alloy compositions are a
    trade secret…

  2. I would have assumed that the more palladium in the alloy, the
    whiter it is. However at least one manufacturer (Hoover and Strong)
    has a chart showing that their 18K palladium white is “whiter” than
    the 14K… How does that work?

  3. When alloying, will I have to stir the metals or will they mix
    properly of their own accord?

  4. What is properly used to pickle palladium white gold? Can I use
    HCl or H2SO4? Or do I need that name brand disulphate stuff?

Thanks in advance.


I commend you on making your own vacuum machine and manufacturing
your own ring, now here is the part you are not going to like.

In my mind casting the ring is not making your ring, carving the wax,
polishing and setting stones is making your ring. The casting is just
a process, but one of the most important, especially palldium white
alloys. There are many jewelers out there that would cast your wax
using your gold. Sometimes a bad casting does not show for years.
Money might not be an issue for you, but you mentioned gold bars, if
they are small and you can alloy just what you need OK, but if you
are melting down a 1 oz bar for a 7 gr ring what a waste. If making
jewelry is going to be an ongoing hobby whole different story. There
are going to be many who totally disagree but I look at options that
work the best for me. Years ago I wanted to learn enameling and a I
was going to learn from a famous enamelist. She told me let me do
your enamel work and you do my casting, you will never be as good as
me enameling and I will never be as good as you casting.

I listened to her and follow that regularly. I can set an eternity
ring of baguettes but don’t do it, I know someone that can set them
faster and better than me, I make the ring and they set the stones.
The finished project will be better for the person wearing the ring
and that is what counts.

Bill Wismar


I agree with your comments regarding “making” the ring… however
indeed I did design the ring myself, made the CAD file, machined the
masters, made injection molds and wax models, etc. I intend to do the
finishing and setting myself as well so that start to finish this
will be a made-by-me ring.

Here are some pics of my progress:

(I’ve been made aware that I attached the sprue in a poor place -
I’ve since moved it to the thick side of the band)

As for the alloy - the gold bars I have are small, 5g, and I only
have a few. If you believe the computer I need less than 3g of metal
so I was intended to just clip chunks off the bars and melt the alloy
right in the crucible before pouring… maybe 4g at a time, tops. I
have similar 999.9 bullion bars in palladium, copper, zinc, and

So the questions are the same, then: can I just melt the
constituents and stir? And what is a good “recipe” for a nice white
palladium white gold?

Thanks for the reply.


Something else I never do is make my own alloy. With technology the
way it is let the pro’s do what they do. I will be glad to send you
enough palladium white alloy to make your ring for free. I would put
the gold on top of the alloy then melt it, and stir when melted. I
would then keep the torch on the gold but not as hot to let it cool
down some then reheat to casting temp. The temp to alloy gold is
hotter than casting temp. Weigh the wax and multiply by 13.5 then
add at least 7gr for the sprue. 3 gr looks light to me for that ring.

Bill Wismar


I looked at your pictures and I think you are doing okay with your
project. But one thing you need to check is to make sure your
beloved isn’t allergic to your palladium. I ask this only because I
have a grandson who is allergic to this metal and not any of the
other metals by themselves.

Good Luck in your endeavor,

I have noticed that no one seems to make their own alloys anymore

  • why is that? Convenience or is alloying difficult?


I *have* noticed that no one seems to make their own alloys
anymore - why is that? Convenience or is alloying difficult? 

Not that difficult. You do need fairly accurate scales, a pocket
calculator, and half a brain. Rolling out good sheet is hard work,
wire is easy with a draw bench. Ya gota find the metal first, pure
999 is easy and you can always use an alloy mix. The last time I
needed properly finished large sheet was a couple decades ago. They
ate the first shipment which was crap and I was nicer then :slight_smile:

Demand Designs
Analog/Digital Modelling & Goldsmithing

I *have* noticed that no one seems to make their own alloys
anymore - why is that? Convenience or is alloying difficult?  

We do it all the time…

Continue from:

Just wanted to update this thread - I did eventually succeed, but it
was a long and difficult road.

I went with an 18kt alloy - 12.5% Palladium and 12.5% silver. I had
a reference or two that said those proportions were in the proper
range but really it was just a guess. The metal is a nice white color
and she loves it without any rhodium plating.

I made a little video for her as I didn’t tell her the ring was
homemade until a couple weeks after the proposal. Didn’t want to
steal the spotlight, you know. Video is here:

Some pics:

Shes quite pleased. :slight_smile:


Well done love your video, congratulations and all the best to both
of you.



What a great job!! You should be quite proud. Congratulations on your


Amazing job, Drew. But hardly “homemade”. You have all the toys,
tools, bells and whistles. And you zipped through the whole project
with (time lapse enhanced) aplomb.I am most impressed and I loved the


Fantastic job and a beautiful result! Thanks so much for sharing the
process with us. Also I want to say, anyone wearing a Purdue shirt
can’t be ALL bad!


Drew, I don’t come here as often as I used to, but I’m glad I stopped
by for a visit today. The ring you created was perfect, and I can’t
imagine what your future wife will say when she realizes it was made
by you. Boy… you’ve sure put the pressure on every other guy who’s
getting engaged. The video was a great idea, the history of this
piece will follow it forever, and that turns something special, into
a treasure. Thanks for posting the video for all of us to see, and
for doing it on youtube. I really enjoyed watching it in HD.

Best Regards, Ski & Cathy

Hope I’m not too far out of line here, but, IMHO, results just as
fine, actually better, could have been achieved through forging and a
bit of fabrication, and in much less time. Also with thousand$ less
in equipment, don’t you think? Jerry from Kodiak (but currently in
Bangkok where it’s over 90 deg. outside)

Thousands of dollars of equipment? You sure you were watching *my
*video? :slight_smile:

Well, as I recall, you started out with a computer and a CAD program
to design the ring, Then there was the whatchamacallit that takes
the design and carves the wax, then there is the vacuum caster and
associated casting equipment. If you got that stuff for less than
multi thousands, please let us in on where you buy your tools.

Jerry in Kodiak

Mind you that the point of the project wasn’t to be economical, but
in truth I already owned everything but the kiln, so it wasn’t very
expensive for me. But even if you were going to start from scratch it
wouldn’t be * thousands* of dollars…

-The particular CAD suite I used was not free, granted, but if I
hadn’t already had it I’d have just used a free variant like Google

-The CNC mill for cutting the waxes was a HarborFreight 47158
micromill that I bought 10+ years ago; they were also sold as a “Sieg
X1” and were $300 new. The CNC conversion I built myself, with a $60
driver board from

-Wax injector was a baby medicine syringe from Walgreens for $5 :smiley:

-Kiln is a Vulcan JK-1… $265 new, but plus $100 shipping to
California, booo.

-My “vacuum caster” (you’re being generous to call it that) was some
scrap aluminum for a vacuum plate plus some leftover rubber from the
wax injection as a gasket. The flasks were short pieces of 2" steel
gas pipe. The degassing chamber was a used acrylic dessicator that I
bought many many years ago on ebay; I was a college student back
then so it couldn’t have been more than $30. The vacuum pump itself
was a $75 job from the surplus store.

-The torch is a little $40 oxy-propane Bernzomatic brazing torch
like you can buy at Home Depot. The oxygen bottles it takes only last
for 15 minutes and cost $8 ea. Crucible and tongs were the bottom of
the line stuff from OttoFrei, $30 for two crucibles and tongs.

-Finishing was $20 of sandpaper from the hardware store, plus $20
pads and wheels for my dremel tool. $5 for rouge. $30 setting pliers.
$5 setting bur.

There is more, of course, in terms of consumables like investment
and wax, but all the major equipment is possible under $1000, easily.


Thousands of dollars of equipment? You sure you were watching *my
*video? :) 

I’m confused. Wasn’t there some kind of cnc machine or 3d lathe of
some type in there? The software alone for your drawing is pretty

Anyways, I thought it was really awesome. Great job and thanks for
sharing the video.


Thanks for the run down of what you used, very interesting! I missed
the picture of the ring, would you re-post please?