Personal Entries · Studio

Embossing the Big Gold Ring


Sarah originally contacted me to ask if I could engrave names on my Big Gold Ring.  Of course!  On the inside, right?  Nope.

Sarah was hoping to engrave her late husband and daughter’s names on the outside of the ring, and asked if I felt that would be attractive.   I didn’t feel it was the best option.  Engraving seems like an afterthought, and given the importance of these names, I wanted their addition to the ring to make it even more attractive; I wanted these names to be an integral part of the ring’s design and beauty, and I recommended that we scale back to initials and emboss them.  Sarah liked that idea, and decided that if we were only doing initials then she would like all her children’s initials embossed on the ring.

The design shown above is what we came up with, and Sarah was very patient while I figured out how to implement my idea.  It’s taken a lot of tries, and Sarah’s is the piece I was working on when I wrote this post.

The embossing technique I planned to use was fairly simple:   a hard plate (the embossing plate)  is created with the image  engraved, backwards, into it.   This plate is then run through the mill sandwiched between another hard plate and the gold.  The pressure exerted upon the plates forces the softer gold into the recesses of the engraved plate, creating a raised mirror image.  Piece of cake, right?

The problem is creating the backwards image.  Letter stamps for metal are readily available, but not backwards letter stamps, and so I needed to create my backwards letter image from scratch.  Using an engraving bit on a Dremmmel did not create a fine enough line, and so I decided to create the embossing plate with acid etching:  I’d cover the plate with acid resist, trace my backwards design onto it, scratch through the resist and then let the acid do the work on the exposed metal.

Etching works best when done in a Royal Dalton, Beatrix Potter bowl

It didn’t work.  By the time I let the acid eat deep enough, it had also eaten out enough that the letters lost their crispness.  The embossed image  it produced when I ran it through the mill was course looking.  I tried the acid etching several ways and the final verdict?  Acid is a rat bastard.  As is the Dremmel.

I decided to forge my own stamping tools (three of which are shown below), which I then used to create the plate on the right.


Sarah opted for 18k gold, which makes embossing a bit easier; the gold is the tiniest bit softer and can squish into the recesses of the embossing plate the tiniest bit better.   Next, I ran the plate and the 18k gold through the mill, and I’ll show you the results next time.  A hint?  Making your own tools and running through the mill is also a rat bastard.


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