Find out how a diamond engagement ring is made…
Beyond the display windows of a jewelry store where flashy pieces are exhibited, have you ever wondered what really goes on in a workshop to make them?
Today, I’m going to bring you behind the scenes to give you a better idea about how a diamond ring is made in the jeweler’s workshop.
Firstly, it takes a lot of dedication, craftsmanship, and patience to create the perfect ring from scratch. From a consumer’s point of view, the entire jewelry buying process involves selecting a metal for the band, choosing a stone, and then the type of setting to mount the diamond.
While it ends there for the consumer, this starts a series of backend processes as the jeweler will then go on to create the ring based on the chosen characteristics.
In the industry, diamond engagement rings are made using 2 methods: casting and handmade. We will look at both manufacturing processes in details and show you the differences between them.
Let’s get started…
Casting is a common process used by jewelers whereby a detailed mold is first made based on the shape and design of the ring setting. It is very popular due to its cost-effective process as the same mold can be used for repeated castings to create identical-looking rings.
Compared to handmade rings, there is less metal wastage and making customized changes to an existing ring design can be performed easily using computer aided design models.
Since 3D CAD models and waxes are used in the design process, some jewelers may offer them to help you visualize how the final product physically looks like. Here’s a video that provides an overview of what happens in the manufacturing process…
A wax model of the ring is created either by having a skilled craftsman carve a design out of wax or via 3D printing using computer aided design programs.
Using the wax model, a specialized plaster is poured to encase the wax ring. For large volume productions, the wax models may sometimes be grouped together like a tree-like object.
Once the plaster hardens, it is baked at extremely high temperatures to evaporate the wax and this leaves a cavity imprint into the mold.
Hot molted metal is then poured into the mould which hardens to produce a raw casting. This step is usually performed in a vacuum chamber to eliminate air voids and pitting. The mold can also be used to create duplicate rings of the same design for many times.
The raw casted metal parts are removed individually and undergo a series of polishing processes before being assembled.
Before the diamond is mounted, the jeweler performs a measurement on its size and customizes the head of the setting so that it provides a snug fit for the center stone.
Multiple polishing steps are performed in order to provide a clean finish and the ring setting is then buffed to give it a shiny luster. If white gold is used for the setting, it is dipped into an electroplating solution to give it a coat of rhodium.
Hand fabrication is a traditional form of creating jewelry where pieces of cold-rolled metal wire (platinum or gold) are shaped into the required design. Through a series of cutting, hammering, annealing and polishing steps, the final piece of jewelry is carefully formed.
However, handforging a ring does come with increased production costs and you will get slight variations in your ring design because of the human element involved in crafting the jewelry.
For the handmade manufacturing process, I’m describing a general process used for creating a diamond ring and will be using a halo setting as an example.
The creation process may differ slightly depending on a variety of factors such as the metal type, the stone used, how the gem is to be mounted, the setting design, skill and craftsmanship of the jeweler.
The first thing to do is to create the band from a piece of metal bar (e.g. platinum or white gold). A bending machine is used to work the metal bar into a circular shape that is based on the wearer’s finger size.
The next step is to close up the band by soldering. To create consistency in the entire ring, a filler made of the same material as the metal bar is used for soldering. This solder fills up the gap where two ends of the bar meet to create a complete circular bar. Flux paste is also applied to the bar to prevent it from being oxidized under the high temperatures.
After soldering the band, it is placed in a weak acidic solution to erode and remove any excess flux away. This is also the stage at which the band is rounded out. The ring is then checked for the correct size and if needed, adjustments are made to achieve the required size. At this stage, the band is smoothly formed and can even be used as a simple wedding band after it is polished.
Depending on the type of setting design, this step may be a little different.
For this particular type of ring (see image below), a left-over piece of the bar is made into an arc and is flush fitted with the band’s circumference. The ends of the arc are thinned out by hammering it on a mandrel. Flux paste is then re-applied over the entire band and the arc before they are soldered together.
A piece of the left-over metal bar is rolled into a loop and placed into an oval setting punch. Once punched, the metal will be shaped into a conical shape which will be used to hold the diamond. Next, this gold cup has to be fitted into the band to form part of the final ring.
A jeweler’s saw is used to create a wedge in the band where the cup will be fixed. The cup is then aligned with the band and the two are soldered together using small specks of gold as filling. After soldering, the inside curve is smoothened out to remove any remaining rough edges.
To set the gem, the ring is first placed in a thermoset plastic and held securely in a ball clamp. A small seat for the stone is then carved out in the cup. Thereafter, the prongs are pressed downwards onto the diamond to grip it in place using a special tool.
After removing the thermoplastic material, the ring is placed into hot water and washed thoroughly. The last step is to perform touch-ups and to polish the ring to give it a nice luster. For white gold rings, the ring goes through another step of rhodium plating to give it a nice metallic sheen.
With that I hope you found this article on how diamond rings are made to be informative. If you are shopping for an engagement ring, finding a reliable vendor that offers high workmanship standards will help you put your mind at ease.
Brian Gavin is one vendor that I highly recommend and you can check out some of his work below.
Thanks for the insightful write up on the ring making process. I was offered a 1.72 ct J color VVS1 stone with all excellent GIA ratings and no fluorescence for $12K locally from a jeweler I was referred to. (link removed) I then did some research on RC and this was the best deal on the whole internet for a 1.7-1.8 ct stone. $9,948 bank wire price, over $2K less than what the local guy wanted for the same ratings and everything. What do you think of this stone?
I have it on hold until tomorrow and need to make a decision. I am getting the band from the local jeweler. He got me a pink gold Cartier 1895 Solitaire band (4 pink gold prongs) that this diamond will go in.
Thanks for your help. I just need to make sure I am doing the right thing before I send that wire!
Cut quality wise, the stone is decent. There is leakage under the table but it’s not a train wreck. It’s just decent. Not great.
If sparkle and performance are things that are important to you, this is a much much better diamond to consider for light performance.
Thanks so much for all of your help. You are a great man. I am talking to James Allen now and am considering the 1.67 ct stone you recommended to me and they will send me some other options and we’ll consider which option to go with. I have learned so much since talking to you! I read all of the links you sent me in your last email and they were extremely informative.
I feel very comfortable working with the gemologist at James Allen and she told me they don’t work on commission so she will help me narrow down to the best option taking into account the AGS report and all of the factors you made me aware of.
I’ve narrowed it down to 2 stones. Both are from vendors you recommended on 4c’s.com. One is from Brian Gavin the other is the one you recommended to me from James Allen. Please help me decide between these 2. I just talked to representatives from both brands and it appears that the Gavin ring is definitely better and has a better Idealscope image but I’m trying to determine if it’s worth the additional cost.
Here are the 2 rings and I’d really appreciate your honest feedback. I could get either if I really want to. Gavin’s ring would cost me $1,365.58 more than Allen’s and I just want to determine if it’s worth it or not for my fiancé’s engagement ring. The band is rose gold 1895 solitaire with 4 prongs.
Best price for me with all discounts would be $12,515.58
Allen option you sent me before:
Best price for me with all discounts $11,150.20
Please let me know which one would be the best option and best value.
Thanks so much,
P.S. I’m exhausted from doing diamond research all day haha
Cutwise, this diamond edges out the James Allen diamond by a little. To the naked eyes, it is extremely hard to see differences.
Brian Gavin does have slightly better craftsmanship on their settings but they do cost more as do their diamonds. This is due to some brand premiums BUT you are getting better quality. The diamond rings they make have superb workmanship.
If you asked me to shop based on practicality, then this would offer the best value for money.
And if I had to make a purchasing decision, I would go for the James Allen diamond above.
I ended up doing more research and reading reviews of both companies and the difference was startling! Brian Gavin has almost perfect reviews on Yelp and TrustPilot and everywhere I looked. People seemed extremely happy with their purchase. Whereas James Allen’s recent reviews (put newest first) from customers were horrible.
Check it out for yourself on Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/james-allen-rings-new-york and check it out for yourself on TrustPilot: https://www.trustpilot.com/review/jamesallen.com – Brian Gavin has a 9.6 on TrustPilot and James Allen has a 4.3 and on yelp Gavin has 5 stars and James Allen has 3 stars.
Plus, Gavin has the actual stones in house and James Allen does not. I found out they order the stone once the customer purchases it and then ship it from themselves to you but they are not in-house so they are not as familiar with the stones they market as Gavin is. For both vendors, is there a difference in how engagement rings are made?
After taking all of these things into account and not wanting to deal with any potential issues or disappointments I decided to spend the $1,365 extra on the better quality stone from the better quality company with a record of top notch customer service and elated clients. I figured I’m only going to do this once and $1,365 really isn’t that much more money.
If it was $3-4K more I probably would have went with the more practical option but I figured it was worth it for the peace of mind and knowing I’m getting the best quality diamond for my fiance and mother of my child. The stark difference in reviews between the 2 companies is what did it for me 100%.
Thanks a lot. If it wasn’t for you I would have bought some crappy stone based on solely GIA reports that most people know don’t mean much. You gave me a crash course in diamonds the past 2 days and I feel that I made a great decision that both me and my fiance will be extremely happy with for (hopefully) decades to come!
James Allen has a business on a much much larger scale than Brian Gavin. So, it’s understandable that there will be times when they drop the ball. That said, both vendors are highly reliable.
If you are more comfortable with Brian Gavin, by all means go ahead with the BGD option. BGD makes their rings inhouse at Texas, Houston.
It’s top notch and you are paying a little more for that. They seem to fit your personality more given what you said in your email.
For consumers who are more price sensitive, going with JA would make sense.
Either way, you are in good hands. All the best for your proposal!
That diamond is only 1.318 and too small. I wanted at least a 1.7ct for my fiancé’s ring. The 1.724ct I’m getting is also a J, VS1 and a Hearts and Arrows diamond. They are both beautiful but we want a larger carat size. I have the 1.724ct on hold and am wiring them the funds today.
I am just waiting to see if my jeweler friend is getting me an authentic Cartier 1895 pink gold solitaire band or not today. If he is not able to get it for me today then I will order the “Elegance” 18k rose gold band from Brian Gavin seen here and have them set my ring for me:
https://www.briangavindiamonds.com/engagement-rings/elegance-18k-rose-gold-5415r18 – it is a close copy of the Cartier ring.
And I would get it in all rose gold instead of rose gold with the platinum like in that link. I appreciate all of your help. I owe you a drink on me if you are ever in Miami! And beyond4cs.com is by far the best resource on the internet for educating oneself on the process of buying a quality diamond stone and not getting ripped off.
Sorry for the typo in the url. I had another browser window opened up at the same time as another reader was enquiring about a BGD diamond. I copied and pasted the wrong link from that the window while reviewing your email.
This should be the correct one.
Anyway, I would love to see some pictures of the completed ring to see how the ring looks like in complete rose gold metal.
I think it would be better for you to get the band from Brian Gavin. It’s less stressful and makes one jeweler completely responsible for the entire ring.
Getting an authentic Cartier ring is not easy and to make sure it can be custom fitted to the size of the diamond is another issue. Either way, it most likely requires some reworking.
I stumbled on to your excellent site after searching for reviews about Cartier.
I was there a few days ago with my partner Sandra and she loved the experience, as expected.
The saleswoman was polite. We found a diamond that Sandra liked. It was pricey buy what struck me was what the saleswoman said at the NED.
“This ring is the wrong ring size and so here is a list of diamonds that can be mounted on a ring that will fit you.” She went on to explain how are diamond rings made at Cartier and why they are the best in the industry.
She wrote a list of diamonds she had never even seen and sent us on out way. I was struck by the fact that she was selling the Cartier experience and not the specific diamonds. That realization burst the mystique for me. She’s just a diamond salesman in a fancy store.
I went back to your site and read more of your material. I feel more clear minded about what I want to do, but I’m still reluctant to forge ahead without some kind of consultant to help me out.
In addition, Sandra did love the Cartier experience and i’m wondering whether if I get her a better diamond from another source it’ll be less of an impact because it’s not a Cartier.
So here is my idea, and I would like to hear your opinion.
Maybe I can buy a diamond through one of the sources you mention on your site and then approach the saleswoman at Cartier and ask whether she can “make it” ca Cartier ring (ie mount it and catalogue it as such) for a fee. That way I can purchase a better diamond and still get Sandra a Cartier ring.
If that doesn’t work, I’m wondering whether you know someone who can recreate the 1895 solitaire ring. Sandra fell in love with its simplicity and elegance.
One other question. I’m looking for a 2.5 carat D VVS! and up ring, 3x excellent, which I know costs a lot. It’s a big investment. Do you think i am better off dealing with a diamond wholesaler as opposed to WhiteFlash, for instance?
Also, at the higher levels, how negotiable is a site like Whiteflash, and do you suggest that I fly out to Texas to view the diamond personally before making a purchase.
I apologize for all the questions, but I realize this is a complex task full of pitfalls and unscrupuous people. For some reason, I get the feeling that you are upright and have integrity, so i will pay close attention to any suggestions you make.
Thank you and happy holidays!
Cartier will not set a diamond that’s not sold by them. I asked them about it and they claim to be quality control issues and that diamonds outside their selections are subpar. Which herein lies the irony, the diamonds they sell aren’t top notch. Only the price is. : )
And you experienced something that’s very common for Cartier shoppers.
There’s no need to fly out to Texas just to view the ring. The thing is, purchases made at reliable vendors, specifically those I had personally vetted are covered with 100% money back REFUNDS (not store credit). If you don’t like what you see, send it back for a full refund. There’s zero monetary risks except for wasting your time if things don’t work out. And I can tell you most people don’t return rings once they see it in person.
But if you think you must see it in person, then fly down to Texas by all means. I’m saying it’s unnecessary. Even if you bought at Cartier with sales policies that don’t protect you as a consumer, you don’t get to see the diamond when selecting off the catalogue.
No one can legally recreate a Cartier 1895 ring to the same exact design due to copyright issues. But there are plenty of ring designs that are very similar.
The Cartier classic 1895 ring is a type of solitaire cathedral design. This would be one that is similar and there are a couple more as well.
For such a large size diamond, it’s very very hard to find a truly well cut 2.5ct diamond with D VVS clarity.
These would be the ones I would recommend:
All 3 diamonds are well cut and 100% eyeclean. The F diamond is the best buy and a well cut G will both look identical to a D color in the face up view. Cut quality is what matters.
IF for some reason you think you need a 2.5ct D and high clarity diamond, you would likely have to get it custom cut if you want one that has such high performance standards as the ones above. The cost to do so is similar to buying one that’s currently available. But custom cutting jobs take way longer due to rough sourcing.
Yes, that’s the one! I bought it today! That’s why it says sold :)
My fiancé and I are unbelievably excited! I’ll send you photos of the completed ring in the full rose gold band once we get it. If I get the band from Brian Gavin it will take 3-4 weeks to receive the ring. I don’t think the local jeweler here will be able to get me an authentic Cartier 1895 rose gold engagement band.
Everyone tells me that’s not possible and he keeps stalling. I told him if he doesn’t have it by Monday I’m ordering the rose gold band from Brian Gavin that looks nearly 100% identical.
Thanks and I’ll keep you posted,
What are diamond rings made of? I’ve seen them made from 14k and platinum but have you heard of tungsten and copper? Do you have pictures of how the mould for creating the ring cast would look like? I’m curious to see how it can hold molten metals.
Diamond rings are typically made of precious metals like gold (white/yellow/rose) and platinum. There is a niche market in palladium and tungsten but these metals are hard to work with and don’t have the perceived prestige to them.
Yep. The moulds would look something like this with the green/blue wax replicas.