I have been approached to create a fraternal ring -- similar to what
a Freemason would wear -- whose design would include some enameling.
By mass-produced, the number of reproductions would be six to twelve
a year, but for many of the wearers, cost will be a factor.
A few questions as I have not worked in actual enamels for several
dozen years - and never in a ring:
- In designing such a ring, is it better for the area where the
enamel is to be place to have a "tooth" - a textured, mottled design
- for the enamel to sort of grab onto?
- Does anyone have recommendations on the type of enamel to be used?
I know Rio Grande offers a form of colored epoxies, but might these
not hold up in a ring or for daily wear?
- For those with potential budgetary restrictions, what are the
thoughts of a ring cast in bronze and gold-plated?
Any insights would be greatly appreciated!
Carolyn "Carrie" Tillie
Generally, the signs on a freemasons ring are the square and
deviders ,engraved into the top of a signet ring.
Now you could use this type of ring with a depression in the top say
1mm deep, which can then be filled with fired enamel,.
A word of warning, enamel and rings are not a good idea, people are
notoriously hard on rings, and the last thing you need are returns
asking for the ring to be re- enamelled. I had such an issue with a
lady when I was enamelling, she brought it back and said the enamel
On looking at the ring it had the deepest scratches all over it.
I asked what caused this/? she replied that she had been building a
Thats probably why you have been asked to quote as most experienced
ring makers and or enamellers dont want this type of hassle.
Also 12 a year isnt really mass production. 12 a week would be.
Quote at least 2 times what you would normally charge for a one off.
Also there cant be any soft gold brazing alloy in its construction
as it will fall apart at the enamelling temperature.
Then you have the issue of enamel, wether opaque or translucent and
College graduation rings dont have enamel for that obvious reason.
Carolyn- I've done more than my fair share of enameling. I used to
work in a a class ring and nursing pin factory. We used both types
Plastic enamel will not hold up to daily wear in a ring. Neither
will gold plating on a ring. Both will be trashed within a week.
Glass enamel is just that. Glass. It will hold up much longer than
the plastic two part coloring, but it is still a bit soft for every
Also glass enamel absolutely needs counter enamel to hold up. You
will have to make the ring thick enough for enamel inside of the ring
as well. That's why you don't see a lot of enameled rings for sale
out there. It can be done. I've done it, but wouldn't do it again in
Have fun and make lots of jewelry.
aternal most rings of a similar nature have a signet form with a
space for a plaque on top. The plaques can be made up or at least die
struck with or without a raised edge around it so packing the enamel
is easier and the pieces are uniform. I would personally do a lot of
them at one time once the sample is approved and you are happy with
the process and artwork, colours,enamels, and whether any foil has to
be added, etc. then only plaques with variables like designations of
status or a special office within the fraternity, may be made up if
asked (I'm not sure I would add it to the enamel, work but more
appropriately adding it in engraving)..
In designing it keep it simple so that if it needs to be copied in
time, it can be done with little change so there is continuity
through the years. Otherwise have the plaques made up and retain them
in your client art or client files as opposed to giving the lot over
to the commissionaire. That way you are essentially guaranteed the
business until such time as you are unable or no longer wish to make
it your livelihood. Avoiding red background could be advantageous if
a lot is to be run. as is offering grisaille work (unless you are an
expert enameller).or any other speciality form. In fact many
fraternal rings have a plain vitreous or composite plaque with a hole
drilled for an ornament in a metal to be applied. Personally, I don't
care for their cookie cutter style, but making a complete insert
allows enough artistic license while maintaining the ability to
appear uniform within the decoration that can be applied to a number
of men's ring styles that would allow for a degree of individuality
in selecting the metal, karat or weight of the design. rer