Three wrongs to make it right
21st December 2018
This was one of the most challenging pieces I have made despite it looking rather simple. The end result however is one of my favourites for the year for a few reasons. A great way to end the year.
Grandmother’s bangle had been passed onto her daughter. During a move some removalists damaged it. The daughter asked the granddaughter to take it to me to see what could be done.
For as long as gold has been valuable
It is very popular today in the jewellery industry to make jewellery so that it uses as little gold as possible in order to reach a price point. Often this leads to jewellery that breaks easily and is not repairable, disposable jewellery.
However for as long as gold has been valuable there have been many attempts to come up with methods that use as little gold in certain designs of jewellery. This very old large bangle was created using very thin gold and then filled with wax to give it strength.
Wrong 1: Estimating the gold weight
The thinness of the gold made repairs appear almost impossible. The presence of the wax inside the bangle ruled it out completely.
Together with the granddaughter we came up with a design that we would turn Grandma`s bangle into something that the daughter could wear. To quote I needed to estimate how much gold was in that bangle after we removed the wax.
I got it wrong and that would mean for the process of recycling the gold for the remodel I would need to add gold in.
Article: Recycling old jewellery
Smoke and more smoke.
As I melted the bangle the wax ignited. Eventually after about 5 minutes I was able to get the old bangle melted completely.
This wax caused issues with the melt that I expected. What I did not expect was how much the weight would be reduced afterwards. I did warn this customer beforehand this would happen to some extent and given that I have been doing work with the family for years I was not concerned about trust issues.
That said I did video the melt for sentimental reasons and I believe the great grandson is going to edit it up as part of the gift to the grandmother.
Wrong 2 : Those old alloys work/melt very differently.
Modern precious metal alloys work a lot better than many of the old ones. All manufacturing jewellers have their favourite precious metal manufactures and most are very familiar with how their alloys melt, cast and manipulate.
The design was to have a centre feature that I would hand engrave with the initials of the grandmother in an old style font.
To form the base of the pendant I would carve the border scrolls in wax. This would allow me the opportunity to fix any errors as I carved. This would not be possible in metal.
Once the carving was done I would then lost wax cast it giving me the pendant in gold form ready for hand engraving.
This old 9ct rose gold alloy was very different to mine and I got the temperature wrong. The result was terrible.
Wrong 3: Design could be better, some changes were needed.
One of the benefits to the failed metal attempt was that I could see some areas of the design that could be improved. Usually when I make changes to a design I discuss them with my customer beforehand. With no time left before Christmas I made an ”executive” decision to make the changes.
Getting it right :)
Those “executive” changes pleased the Granddaugher greatly. Engraving is a trade in its own right and I have the utmost respect for masters of that profession……which I am not. However 2018 has seen me make an attempt to get out of my comfort zone and do more hand engraving.
I was really pleased with how this came out. One of my favourite pieces for 2018 and when the customer told me that she was so pleased it was bringing her to tears…..I knew something right had happened after all the things that had gone wrong.
One final interesting point for those that have not noticed, the Grandmother`s initials are “N - E - W” which is so fitting for the rebirthing of her bangle and as we head into the New Year.
I think I am about done for the year now. Thank you to all my customers and Merry Christmas.