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Making a spoon ring


#1

Hi All

I’m a novice jeweler and I haven’t been at the bench in awhile so I
could use your help. A friend asked me to make a spoon ring for her
as a gift to her mom…it’s a spoon from her mom’s collection. She
told me it is sterling silver. I did some research online and what I
read suggested that I would not need to apply heat to shape a
sterling spoon…that once the bowl was cut off I could shape it
using a hammer and mandrel. I’ve been trying but the spoon handle is
really hard to bend. I’ve ended up whacking it harder than expected.
I’ve gotten a curve but it’s not that pretty and I’m not sure I can
achieve the shape needed to be a wearable, nice looking ring. I
looked for a sterling marking somewhere on the ring but can’t find
one which is leading me to think maybe it’s not sterling after all.
My question to you is, if indeed it is sterling, should I be able to
do this without applying heat or should it be soft enough to bend?
Does anyone have any experience with this kind of a project?

Thanks,
Anne


#2

Ann-- I used to make sterling spoon rings without heat or soldering.
Sterling works great if you know how. It should be marked “925” or
"sterling". If it says “german silver” or “alpaca” or not marked for
quality, etc. it’s nickel silver, silver plated. No actual silver
content in the base alloy.

Try this-- get a small vise, jewelers or otherwise, and get some
material to line the jaw that will grip well. You’ll need to anchor
the vise to a workbench or some sort of work surface, preferably
kind of low so you’ll have leverage with your mallet. Line the
jaw–you can try thick leather with the rough side inward, a cut up
bicycle tire, etc. The object is to be able to really grip a
jeweler’s ring mandrel firmly along with the spoon handle. I used a
regular shop vise lined with cut pieces of auto tire, attached with
the screws the held the liners that came with the vise.

To the correct ring size first measure the finger (or a ring sizer)
around the outside (circumference). Then cut your spoon handle long
enough to match that outside circumference plus some for overlap–
File the cut end to a slant so the the part the fits under the
overlap will more or less fit under without scraping.

Then, to shape the spoon handle, start at the cut end. Use a good
heavy rawhide mallet. First, clamp your ring mandrel in the vise
tightly, so that some of the mandrel is exposed. As far as size
goes, you should work the part of the mandrel slightly below the size
you want to end at. Hold the spoon handle by the large end and lay
the cut end (still straight) on the mandrel so the outside part is
facing up, inside part is touching the mandrel. Use your rawhide
mallet to “start” a curve on this cut end-- you’ll have to really
wail on it several times because that part of the spoon handle is
usually the thickest.

Once you have the curve started, place that part into the vise
between the mandrel and the jaws and clamp it down really tight, so
that the curved part is pointing down and the still straight part is
sticking up. Use your leather mallet and starting at the exposed end
of the curve, tap/bend the straight part around the mandrel as much
as you can. You will only be able to curve a small portion of the
circle at one time, but by loosening the vise and moving the curved
part around the mandrel gradually then reclamping, working the curve
as you go, you can get a nice even curve to the ring.

When you get to the part that will overlap the cut end, don’t get
carried away with whacking so that the overlap gets deformed around
the cut end. Sterling is really pretty soft, especially when you get
to the flat end, so be careful.

You might want to do a couple of silver plate spoons first (garage
sale, thrift shop, etc) for practice. This technique, once mastered,
can produce a nice spoon ring to size in about 5-10 minutes.

Merry Christmas!
Jim


#3
A friend asked me to make a spoon ring...what I read suggested that
I would not need to apply heat to shape a sterling spoon...that
once the bowl was cut off I could shape it using a hammer and
mandrel. I've been trying but the spoon handle is really hard to
bend. My question to you is, if indeed it is sterling, should I be
able to do this without applying heat or should it be soft enough
to bend? 

I haven’t made any spoon rings, but I’ve made spoon bracelets. Yes,
even if it’s sterling, you will need to heat it with a torch to
anneal (soften) it before you can finish it. The more you bend the
handle, the more it will work-harden. You may need to anneal it more
than once to get it bent to the right size.

Kathy Johnson
Feathered Gems Jewelry
http://www.fgemz.com