Arts & Crafts Magazine

Working in 18k

By Whollykao @whollyKao

01-whollyKao_workingInGold It’s been a while since I’ve shared any jewelry projects. In August, I made this ring. I had gotten the stone from the class I took at Penland School of Crafts (I’ll talk about that class in a future post!), and wanted to make my grandma something. I’ve made her earrings in the past, so I decided to spring for a ring – in 18k gold. I had only worked in gold a couple times before, so this was going to be an adventure for me.

Let me tell you – the price for the materials for this ring made my eyes pop. Buying gold is no joke: you pay market value for it. So that made me pretty nervous when I was soldering. I mean, what if I melted the damn thing to a puddle?

Turns out gold is a lot more resilient than I thought. I’m used to working with silver, where the solder flows once you’ve heated the metal enough. Gold doesn’t work that way. You have to hold the flame over one spot before the solder melts. And it’ll only melt in that one spot. So then you have to move your flame over a couple millimeters and do it again.

It’s also a lot harder to set a stone in gold than in silver. Silver is soft, so you can push the bezel metal over the stone to hold it in place. For gold, you have to use an actual hammer and chisel to do the same. I learned that the hard way. And if you’re not careful, you could crack your stone with a badly placed hammer blow.


As you can see, I didn’t end up melting my gold into an ingot. And I didn’t crack my stone with all the hammering, either. This was a really good learning experience for me, and I ended up with a pretty nice-looking ring. And my grandma liked it, which is a definite plus!

Will I work with gold again? You bet! Now…who wants to fund my next project?



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