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Should I make my own wedding bands?


#1

Hello Orchid friends,

I am recently engaged- yippie! my engagement ring was custom made
with 18k and rhodium plated. what i didn’t know is that in the US
nickle is most commonly used (instead of palladium) for white gold.
i’m hoping my nickle allergy won’t be an issue if i keep up on the
plating. if myself or my fiance had known this, we would have gone
for platinum or ensured that palladium (and not nickle) was used.

i have been considering making our wedding bands but i’ve never
worked with gold (only silver/copper/brass etc). i have taken a
casting class and have considered asking my instructor to help since
i haven’t worked with gold (casting or otherwise). if i were to make
them, i’d like to get white gold w/palladium to avoid allergy issues.
do you think rhodium plating the 18k (w/palladium) will match the
engagement ring? do you think it is worth attempting to making the
rings myself?

i also have been considering going platinum for the bands and making
them from prefabricated half round wire (no casting). this would
avoid any skin allergies i have, but i’m not sure how platinum and
rhodium plated 18k engagement band would look next to each other.
also, as you may have guessed, i’ve never worked with platinum. but
my thinking is that if i don’t have to cast something i might be
better off.

do you think it would be too risky for me to attempt working with
white gold or platinum given it’s high cost and my lack of
experience? i like the idea of making our bands- it’s more
personal…but is it worth the risk? what are your thoughts?
insights? experience?

Thanks!
Anna
threebirdsjewelry.com


#2
do you think rhodium plating the 18k (w/palladium) will match the
engagement ring? do you think it is worth attempting to making the
rings myself? 

the rhodium will look the same on any material you use as it is the
rhodium that you see in the end result not the base material.

you should be encouraged to make your own bands and not fear the
material cost. if you are getting help with the project from a
craftsperson that is confident pay them a bit more for their time
and let them take over when they think it is important.

gold is much easer to cast than platinum but if you are making
simple bands than ordering the platinum in the stock size you need,
then forming them on your own should be easy for you. the trick with
welding platinum is that you use no flux and a hot focused oxidizing
flame. the material gets real hot and radiates light so dark glasses
are a must but cleanup is a snap. i would go as far as to say that
welding and forming platinum is easier than any of the other metals.
no flux no pickle no fire scale just a very big price tag. the
platinum will slowly wear out the 18k and will destroy the plating
as well.

it is unfortunate that you think you might have a nickel based white
gold as the colour of the white gold is nicer than the rhodium
plating. when asked to make white gold for customers i usually
suggest that they use palladium as a material instead as it costs
about the same as 18k and you dont have to add anything to it to get
the white colour you want or plate it to get the colour you want.

it has always seamed farcical to me that manufacturers would make a
ring out of 18k and then plate it with rhodium, you might as well
make your jewellery out of a car bumper you would get the same
result.

palladium has about the same durability as 18k white, so that might
be your best bet for colour match and price. the key would be to do
your own carving (make it clean and finish it well) then farm out the
casting to a smelting company. the smith that is instructing you
should be able to set it up for you. then finish the casting
yourself. most casting houses that do silver gold platinum will also
do palladium as well in a percentage of 95% that will be what you are
looking for.

Les


#3

Hello Anna,

If you’re confident with soldering copper and brass you should have
little difficulty in soldering gold. Platinum is a bit more of a
problem because the melting point of most platinum solders is much
higher than gold, but you can get extra-easy solder that would do the
job OK. Another consideration is to use palladium. You’ve probably
heard that it’s the latest metal for jewellery, and it’s considerably
cheaper than platinum or 18ct gold, plus it’s a very good colour
match for platinum - I personally think it’s a little whiter. If
you’re happy with rhodium plated white gold, you’ll like palladium.

Regards, Gary Wooding


#4

Platinum cam be tricky to work with if you don’t have experience.
I’m sure you wouldn’t have a problem with 18wh though.

I would buy wire and make bands from that instead of casting.

Why don’t you buy the bands as castings then clean them up yourself?
That way you don’t have to worry about inexperience and you still
have a hand in the production of your own rings.

Helen.


#5
I am recently engaged- yippie! 

Congratulations :slight_smile: Nickle white is being made less and less in Oz,
so it’s not really a problem here.

i have been considering making our wedding bands but i've never
worked with gold (only silver/copper/brass etc). 

Personally, I will never buy jewellery again, and why not make your
own rings, it will make them more meaningful.

Rhodium plating is a nice option, we did this recently in class,
although we plated brass, and used black rhodium. Just had to make
sure the piece to be plated had a perfect finish.

i also have been considering going platinum for the bands and
making them from prefabricated half round wire (no casting). 

Well it depends on how much you want to spend… I guess. I haven’t
worked with platinum, but have heard it is a little more difficult
to work with than white gold.

do you think it would be too risky for me to attempt working with
white gold or platinum given it's high cost and my lack of
experience? 

I’d make the rings out of gold, because I have no experience with
platinum (this may change with time).

I’m interested to hear what other may say :slight_smile:

Kindest regards Charles A.


#6

thanks les, my fiance surprised me with the custom ring. he went to
a jeweler he trusted to make the engagement ring - it was a
completely custom piece. they didn’t discuss anything about white
gold or what his options were, so im actually pretty disappointed in
them. i dont think he knew any better about 18k vs 14k…especially
after hearing over and over from the orchid community about how silly
it is to even use 18k for white gold. sigh.

not sure what we’ll do about it, i had to have it sized down, but
now i fear its too small. ARG frigging ARG! i will keep you all posted
on what i decide. thanks for your tips, it’s encouraging. ~a


#7

I made my own engagement ring, my man gave me his father’s diamond
ring to remake one for myself, and I intend to make my wedding bands
when the time come, it mean so much more.


#8

You should find that a suitable section wire is available in white
gold. Soldering is easier than soldering silver as there is less
oxidation to worry about so your solder will flow more easily. I
would use a D section wire of decent profile thickness or a
rectangular wire and then you can change the profile with hand
tools. Getting them rhodium plated afterwards wont be too expensive
and your metal supplier should be able to point you to a workshop
that will do that for you.

To be honest, I wouldnt go down the platinum road because it is
unlikely your torch will give you enough heat to melt the Pt solder.
Even extra easy will be a REAL struggle and palladium likewise. Many
Pd alloys contain a lot of silver so their brightness is superb when
done but oxyacetylene is really needed to make their working anything
but a challenge.

Nick Royall


#9

Anna,

I’m getting into this conversation a bit late, but I will give you
my thoughts on your impending project.

Don’t do rhodium plating. It just doesn’t last, and is a terrific
pain if the ring has to be sized (soldered) and then re-plated.
Rhodium has been used to “whiten” the look of nickel alloyed white
gold, which doesn’t look all that white. The idea of going with a
palladium white gold is a good idea. It’s more expensive than the
nickel alloy, but is far whiter and much easier to work with. I have
not had good luck with the palladium alloys I’ve tried, but just
adding 950 palladium to 24K gold ( wear platinum-safe glasses for
the melt) makes an easy working true-white gold. A real pleasure to
roll out, solder and polish.

For all the remarks about the difficulty of working with platinum,
it’s not really that different, but make sure you have no other metal
"contaminants" around where you are working with the platinum,
especially when it is hot. (Platinum used to be used for heating
elements for electric-melt casting machines. When platinum gets
really hot, it melts every other jewelry metal… which can melt onto
and into the platinum if you’re not careful!) Wear your #10 platinum
lenses when melting it or annealing it, and give it plenty of time
when annealing ( I do mine for 2 min., usually). It rolls out
beautifully.

So besides the unusually long time to anneal platinum, and the
cleanliness issues, the final finish can be the most brutal and time
consuming. Many old school jewelers would not reveal their platinum
polishing secrets. It just takes many steps of sanding finer and
finer, special rubber wheels, polishes and burnishers. Be patient,
get as much as you can before you start, and then work
with it! Platinum used to be almost double the price of 24K gold, but
now is only a few hundred more than gold!

Good luck!

Jay Whaley