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.