Not so long ago, on a very busy day, a man asked me to mend his wife’s wedding ring, a tapered bold band with a crack in the shank. I have to admit I neglected our normal take-in procedure and didn’t examine the ring thoroughly before writing up the repair ticket.
When I looked over the ring at my bench, I found it also had a badly worn Florentine finish. Repairing the cracked shank was simple, and to make up for my neglect, I decided to re-Florentine the ring. Because it was my fault, I redid the finish during my lunchtime and didn’t charge the customer (please don’t tell my boss).
Weeks later the man told me what a hit the repaired ring was with his wife, who was especially pleased with the refinishing job; because the ring looked new, it made her feel younger.
I relearned a valuable lesson through this experience. What we take for granted may be very important to our customers. (Also, neglect can be expensive in the form of lost income.)
In this installment of The JA @ Professional’s Guide to Fine Jewelry Craftsmanship,™ we’ll examine three common metal texture finishes – Florentine, hammered and stippled -and when and how to restore them properly. Offering this service is an important way to build your customers’ trust and generate sales.
As the name implies, a classic hammered texture was created using the rounded end of a ball-peen hammer. Contemporary jewelers have developed other ways to create depressions that simulate a classic hand- wrought hammered finish. (Why don’t we use a hammer to restore a hammered texture on a ring? Hammering stretches the metal, increasing the ring size.)
A hammered texture usually is quite deep and will retain its character through many years of use. But nothing lasts forever. The first sign of wear: when ridges between the depressions lose their crispness and become rounded. It’s easy to restore the hammered finish at this point I using a rounded rubber wheel to deepen the depressions and, thus, redefine the ridges. When the depressions are badly worn, you need a more aggressive process. Recut the depressions with various sizes of ball burs, then prefinish with a rubber wheel before final polishing. A proper hammer finish appears random, so take care not to develop a regular pattern when sculpting the depressions.
Though seen less often than Florentine or hammered finishes, stippling is very effective and offers contrast to bright polishing. It looks like sandblasting but is much deeper, so it holds up well. To reproduce stippling, mount a sharp point (carbide works best) into the end of a reciprocating hammer tool. Facet the tip of the point to produce the light- reflective angular cuts characteristic of good stippled finishes. Then hammer the point across the metal surface to produce the stipple effect. (If you don’t have a hammer tool, you can achieve the same effect using a sharp nail and a hammer.) You can alter the appearance of the stippled finish (or match an original pattern) by varying the sharpness of the points you use.
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