The Key Constituents
With the dimensions of the gold ingot last seen in part 1 firmly in mind, we can move along to the rolling mill. A rolling mill compresses the gold into a rectangular plate that will become the ring shank. After the first pass, we measure and repeat until we get the dimensions we are looking for. It’s a good thing there are motorized rolling mills these days. It pains us to imagine how much time and elbow grease was spent doing this back in the day.
Our thick ingot has been worked into a skinny rectilinear strip; the gold has become hardened and stiff as a result of all that compression. Reheating or ‘annealing’ it will realign its molecular structure, allowing us to continue to work the gold without fracturing it. Applying heat until the plate glows red will make it hot enough to soften the metal, but not so hot that it would melt and deform. The extra length here is being removed with a jeweler’s saw. Don’t let the delicate appearance fool you, this little saw is capable of doing some big things. The wire form allows for greater freedom when maneuvering through curves and tight spaces.
This 19k white gold ring shank will gradually taper towards bottom. The plate is hammered against a case hardened steel block to create the necessary bow tie shape. The key components of the ring. The squares on the left will form the bezel that holds the centre stone. Now properly prepared, the longer strips of 19k gold are ready to be shaped into the ring shank.