measuring the stone and scoring the wax

About a year and a half ago I was approached by the boy friend my best friend from college.  He wanted me to make an engagement ring for my friend.  This was not a normal commission piece because I was making a ring for one of the most important people in my life and she had no idea I was doing it, let alone that her boy friend planned to propose.

Setting Up the Plan

The first step in any sensitive project like this is not letting anyone know what you are doing.  If word gets out then it is out and she might find out, and then I am in big trouble.  Another additional problem was that I had never met him because they live in a different state. We were Facebook friends, but if we started talking all the time she might think something was going on.

sawing the wax

So he and I had to keep our relationship incognito as we figured out the ring.  I had to hide things from her that I already knew about when she told because he might have told me earlier that week.  In general though we communicated about what he wanted from the ring and I told him what I could deliver.

It took a few months but we hammered out a deal and came up with a design.  He wanted a small stone that was not a diamond, white gold and a twisty band.  The first thing we decided on was to use a blue topaz for the stone; it’s a good solid stone that was the right shade of color.  He found out the ring size, and I have no idea how he did it but I plan on asking him.  Then I got to work.

Sawing the Ring

Sawed wax that resealed

I used extra hard blue casting wax with a ring mold to start.  This kind of wax comes  in a long tube with a small ring hole in the center.  The bottom half is rounded while the top is a flat plain.  I placed the stone on the wax in the center then moved it 3 or four mm from the edge.  Then I scored a line on the other side 3 or 4 mm.

The important step is to give extra space on both sides of the stone.  A golden rule with any kind of sculpture is that it is easier to remove then to add.  The same is true with wax.  You can use heat to add more wax to the piece but it will never quite look the same.  It is best to give extra room at every step and remove excess later.

After scoring the line I put a saw blade into my jeweler saw and start to cut.  I always cut over a garbage can when cutting wax because it makes the clean up process quicker. Cutting through wax is easier then metal but because it is so much thicker it will take time.

While you cut through the wax the heat from sawing will reseal the wax a little bit.  So after you cut through it will take a bit of elbow grease to separate the two parts.  After you have removed the smaller part you have the first step done.  This hunk of wax was slowly turned into your wax ring that was sent off to a foundry and cast into my friend her engagement ring.


The first step of the wax mold is done

This first step in constructing the ring is one of the most important.  If the band is too narrow for the stone it is best to start over than to work for many hours and then stop.  In general when I am working on wax molds I set my timer for 35 minutes and only work that amount of time.  Each step is very tiring and beginners should take their time when working.  I destroyed a wax ring when I was almost done because I had worked too long for one day and got sloppy.  The next part will be about hollowing out the ring and digging out the stone.

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