A while back we were approached by one of our customers whose engagement ring had gotten damaged. A small chunk had broken off and what she didn’t know was that it was caused by porosity and the whole ring would need to be remade. Not many people know that cast rings and jewellery can be affected by porosity. In this article you will discover what it is and how we rebuilt her engagement ring.
But First, what is Porosity?
Porosity, by definition, is the quality of being porous and can occur in many different types of materials – whether it be done on purpose (as in the case of a sponge) or not intended at all.
Porosity in Jewellery
Porosity mainly occurs in cast jewellery, jewellery made from a mould, and happens when tiny air bubbles form within the metal. Two of the main causes include shrinkage and gas. Shrinkage porosity occurs when sections of the casting cool down and solidify faster than others, leaving voids that did not have enough metal flow to fill. Gas porosity happens when metals release gasses during the solidification process – some liquids can hold dissolved gasses whereas its solid state cannot.
Recasting Our Customer’s Engagement Ring
Our customer’s engagement ring is a fairly complicated design which has dual metals (rose gold and platinum) fused together, diamond set shoulders and one larger solitaire diamond. Her fiancée had purchased the ring in Johannesburg, South Africa to avoid having to pay the high prices associated with engagement rings in Europe. We usually tell our clients to take their ring back to the manufacturer because a reputable one should replace the item free of charge. However, this wasn’t an option for our client.
Assessing the Damage and Providing a Solution
A first glance we thought the engagement ring was broken by means of physical damage, such as a hard knock or bang. But after examining it closer we discovered evidence of porosity – the dreaded tiny voids present in metal. Unfortunately, there is no easy way to repair porosity and the best thing one can do is get the item remade. The process of remaking our customers engagement ring starts by creating a digital design in CAD, followed by hand assembly, hallmarking, polishing and transferring the original diamonds across.
NB: As a rule, whenever we recast a ring, we design it so that it is stronger than the original. For example, making the band and claws slightly thicker. This ensures that the new ring is more durable and has a solid and expensive feel too it – whilst retaining the same appearance.
Designing the Ring in CAD
CAD, or computer aided design, enables us to make a digital 3D model of the ring. The advantage of using CAD is the speed at which the design can be made and the ease of changing it (if need be). Using a traditional wax model requires more time and is a little trickier to change. The following shows the CAD drawings of our client’s engagement ring:
The Raw Ring
Once the CAD drawings have been finalised and approved, we then proceed to make a mould. Hot metal is poured into the mould and once solidified, we’re left with a raw and unpolished copy of the ring. Each part of the ring is cast separately and would later need to be soldered together, hallmarked and polished. Below you can see the ring in its raw state, before assembly:
All our own jewellery gets sent to the Assay Office at Dublin Castle for hallmarking. Hallmarking is enforced by law and guarantees purity and finesse. It is an official stamp of quality done by the assay office since the company was established, by royal charter, in 1632. Once hallmarked, the raw-cast ring is sent back to us for the final prep.
Polishing and Diamond Setting
Our goldsmith gets to work assembling the ring as soon as it arrives back from the assay office. The complex design meant that it took a fair bit of time to assemble, especially when we had to insert and solder the rose gold band into place. Thankfully Tommy, our master goldsmith, has been working with precious metals his whole life and was able to manoeuvre and shape the piece into place.
When then gave the ring a rigorous polish to bring out its shine before moving on to resetting the original diamonds. Martin Gear has been working with jewellery since he was a young boy, with his father, and further honed his skills by studying in the famous Hatton Gardens of London. His skill as a master diamond setter meant the job of resetting each and every diamond, some no larger than a millimetre, fell into his hands.
Once the ring has been hallmarked, polished and reset with diamonds it goes through a last clean and polish. This ensures it has an eye-catching shine and sparkle that is sure to turn a few heads. Our client received her new ring and was overjoyed to finally be able to wear it once again.
Is Your Jewellery in Need of Repair? Do You Want to Get an Item Reproduced?
We can repair or reproduce almost any item of jewellery and clients often bring us photos of lost family heirlooms, or of an unaffordable engagement ring they have seen online or in the high street. Nine times out of ten we can reproduce a ring for less than what they sell for elsewhere, a ring that is better built and feels more solid and expensive. Come by our workshop at 5 Mary Street to find out more about our repair and reproduction services.