When Mat Brown, creator of boutique jewelry store Shinium, was asked by friends to create wedding rings for them, he settled on a very special alloy to work with: electrum. Electrum is a gorgeous alloy made of both gold and silver but it's notoriously difficult to work with.
Because the alloy is so hard and has such a low melting point, the standard way of building rings won't work. Mat would have to create his own method for making the rings.
He made a wooden model for the rings to start out and double checked the sizing.
He weighed out the gold and silver, including an old broken gold ring that had been in the family and would soon be getting a new life.
Next is working with delft clay, a mixture of sand, oil and clay. This will be used to make the actual mould.
The canister is packed tightly with the delft clay.
And now it gets the model ring pushed down tightly into the smooth clay.
Loading up the second canister for the second ring.
And repeating the packing procedure to get the delft clay tight and smooth.
Loaded up and ready to go.
At this point, he pulled the rings apart and made holes to pour the electrum through with air holes to let the air out.
Here is the top section of the mould, ready for the pouring.
Mat melted the electrum together, saying that it's "nice and warming in a cold winter workshop."
The canister smoking from the pour.
The first pour didn't take-- either the metal was too hot or the pour hole was too small. Mat reset and started again.
After the second pour, he pulled apart the mould to the perfectly satisfying sight of a brand new ring.
It's got kind of a funky space-age look now, but the rings needed to be cleaned up of the sprue-- which is the extra metal you see surrounding the ring.
The large bits can be cut off with a saw and will be be recycled for matching jewelry, maybe for bridesmaids.
The smaller chunks will need to come off from the wet grinding wheel.
Still a little rough around the edges.
The dremel-alike and sandpaper will do another round of sanding.
There's still plenty of cleanup around the edges.
The turning jig-- a sort of homemade lathe instrument made of a power drill-- does the fine sanding.
The black mark is made with a Sharpie marker to see how many times the ring has been rotated. It'll polish off later.
After several rounds of sanding, the ring is nearly finished. By now you can see the electrum’s unique color.
Jeweler's rouge, a very fine powder compressed bar of ferric oxide, gives the final polish.
The gloves don't protect Mat's fingers. They're there to keep any finger grease off of the rouge polish.
The two rings are 40% gold and 100% gorgeous.
And just in time for the wedding.
Credit: Shinium | Imgur