Making My Brother’s Wedding Rings Part 2: First Steps and What the Heck Does 10 Karat mean?

Sometimes before there can be construction, there is destruction in jewelry making.  Metal must be melted down or in this case, old jewelry must be torn apart.

My brother’s wedding bands are going to be gold, and we’d collected a good amount from various family members, friends and kindly donors who were tired of unwanted baubles cluttering up their jewelry boxes and drawers.  But before we can work with that gold, it has to be verified as gold (as opposed to gold coloured base metal, brass or copper), and all stones and and glue must be taken out.

A bag of collected "old gold".
A bag of collected “old gold”.

So on a chilly Saturday afternoon, I consulted with my goldsmith pal and teacher Trevor to separate the bounty into usable and not usable.

Gold that’s real must be stamped with its karat weight; 10k, 14K, etc.  That number translates into the percentage of gold in the metal.  100% pure gold is just not used for jewelry; it’s way too soft and would bend or break instantly.  It must be alloyed or mixed with other metals to make it sturdy.  Pure gold is often alloyed with nickel, silver, or copper.  As the percentage of pure gold decreases, the strength of the metal increases: so 14k gold will be stronger than 18k.  Fortunately, as the percentage of pure gold  in your alloy decreases, the price of the metal also drops: so 14k will cost less than 18k.

So what do those numbers mean exactly?   “18k” gold is 18/24 or 75% pure gold.   “14k is 14/24” or 58.3% pure.  10k gold is just  41.7% and is the lowest alloy allowed for legal sale  as “gold” in The USA, and it must be marked if it’s to be sold.  Gold made in the USA  can be out by a half of one Karat.  Canadian gold goes by “Plumb Gold Standard” and the percentage of fine gold has to be right on.

In Canada,  if you’re going to mark your jewelry as 18 karat gold, or with any karat or quality mark it must also have  a maker’s trademark (also known as a  “manufacturer’s mark” or hallmark).  BUT.. the law also allows for precious metal jewelry to be without ANY of those marks; which is why sometimes your gold doesn’t SAY it’s gold.  So how will you know for sure?  You can have it tested, or if you no longer care for it, cut into it with a file or saw.

Old gold taken apart.
Old gold BEFORE its taken apart.

So that’s where we were Saturday; carving into some pieces of gold to check that they are the real thing.  We used pliers and tools to remove both cheap glass stones, rubies, and yes, even some diamonds.  Trying to handle tiny diamonds that are probably slimmer than a hair was fun.  But I don’t think we lost a single one!

5 rubies from an old ring of mine, plus a decent sized diamond from another old ring I'll never wear. Those can be used later in something else.
5 rubies from an old ring of mine, plus a decent sized diamond from another old ring I’ll never wear. Those can be used later in something else.

Also in the donated pile were a few chunks of pre-melted gold, and some dental gold.  One was clearly a crown, the other was still attached to the tooth!  Kinda yuckky, especially when Trevor told me the way to get the gold out of the tooth was to smash it up.  Tooth fragments everywhere!  But gold is gold and we’ll need all the little bits to make these rings.

Pre-melted gold chunk plus old rings.
Pre-melted gold chunk plus old rings.
Two gold teeth! A weee bit creepy.
Two gold teeth! A weee bit creepy.

We also made a new decision about how the rings will be made.  My initial plan was to melt the gold and pull it into wire; to basically fabricate them.  But in looking again at the original solitaire, Trevor suggested it would be easier and better to carve them out of wax, and cast them.  So that’s the new plan.

I’ve got some jeweler’s wax ring blanks and will begin carving them by hand.  Jeweler’s wax is basically a soft plastic that can be cut and carved with files.  If you do a good job carving your wax, and making sure it’s smooth and even, it will require only minimal finishing afterwards.


Jeweler's Wax ring blanks.
Jeweler’s Wax ring blanks.
Sizing the wax before carving.
Sizing the wax before carving.

So that’s where we are now; wax carving is underway.  Stay tuned.

To check out more of my jewelry work click HERE.

The engagement ring I'm making matching bands for.  It belonged to our mother.
The engagement ring I’m making matching bands for. It belonged to our mother.

Rare Pink “Princie Diamond” sells for $39 million

Princie DiamondThis undated photo provided by Christie’s shows a rare pink diamond, nicknamed the Princie Diamond, which has sold for $39.3 million at auction in New York City. The price for the 34.65-carat diamond that sold to an anonymous buyer at Christie’s on Tuesday, April 16, 2013, was the second-highest ever for a jewel sold at auction. (AP Photo/Christie’s)
The Associated Press
Published Thursday, April 18, 2013 6:46AM EDT

NEW YORK — A rare pink diamond once owned by Indian royalty has sold for $39.3 million at auction in New York City.

The price for the 34.65-carat diamond that sold at Christie’s on Tuesday was the second-highest ever for a jewel sold at auction. The seller and buyer were anonymous.

The gem nicknamed the Princie Diamond was discovered 300 years ago in the Golconda mines in India.

It once belonged to the Nizam of Hyderabad, an Indian prince.

In 1960, the diamond was purchased at auction by the London branch of the jeweler Van Cleef & Arpels.

Its name was bestowed at a party at the firm’s Paris store. It was called Princie in honour of the 14-year-old prince of Baroda, who attended the party with his mother, Maharani Sita Devi.

Read more:

Reblog/repost via CTV News/AP

My Favourite Apps

My mother in law’s new iPhone is behind this week’s post of my favourite apps.  Here’s what I love, recommend, or can’t live without:


*STARBUCKS:  Add your gift cards, pay for coffee, and earn points for free beverages.  This app gets me going in the morning and keeps me going all day.  The only downside; the points you earn are per transaction, not per beverage, so if you’re buying for the office, you’ll get hosed.  (Unless you ask NICELY fo the kindly clerk to ring them in individually!)


*My Fitness Pal: surprisingly addictive, this app counts the calories FOR you.  You put in your info, tell it whether your goal is to gain or lose weight, or just keep truckin’.  It calculates how many calories a day you should be eating, then keeps track of your intake, as well as factoring in any exercise you do.  It allows you to manually add foods, or use the built-in scanner to upload nutritional info.  Great to get an accurate picture of what you eat; which for many of us is MORE than we think!



Everyone has a favourite picture-taking app; I have a few. And unlike most of humanity, I only used Instagram for about 3 minutes. I like these better.

*Hipstamatic: Awesome old timey camera settings come with the app, then you can buy fun films, lenses and flashes after.  The app works just like an old fashioned camera with the ability to swap and combine settings.  The films and lenses are so interesting and unique that I keep picking up new ones. With a “Shake to Randomize” setting, you can take cool photos and be surprised at how they turn out. You don’t need an account to use this, unlike Instagram.


*360: a cool app that lets you take panoramic view shots that, as the name implies, allow you to completely visually circumnavigate the area around you. Playback makes it look like you’re there.

*PicJointer: allows you to stitch photos together into collages.  Great for then uploading to your social media websites.  Speaking of which..


They probably don’t need explanation, so ’nuff said that they’re on the list.





*ShopShop: a list-maker app, this keeps needed groceries on hand.  The list keeps track of your frequent purchases so you don’t need to add again and again, and lets you cross off and/or delete what you’ve picked up. Handy.


*ScanBizCards (Lite): Just like the name says, scan business cards, and they are automatically input into your contacts list.  So handy, and eliminates paper clutter and the need to re-type.  Lite version allows you to scan 5 cards/week, which is enough for me.  Downside: sometimes is has a hard time reading some fonts, so double checking the input is a must.

*Flashlight: when you need it, it’s there.  You can use different colours of light from the screen, or turn on the LED/flash. When you can’t find the darn flashlight, you can probably always find your phone.


*WhiteNoise Lite: Annoying children on the airplane?  Need some background noise to drown out the neighbours’ wind chimes? Try the sound of crashing waves, babbling rivers, cricket, or the rain. Helpful to get you to sleep, or just to cover other noise.


*Shazam & SoundHound: Both apps that ID music that’s playing aloud.  I find that when Shazam can’t find a song (which is frequent), SoundHound can.  Both also keep lists of the songs you check so you can remember them later.  They’ll also allow iTunes purchases of the song if you like it that much.


*Google Maps: For my money it still way outdoes Apple’s map software. Much easier to navigate, and to look up addresses and phone numbers.

*Waze:  Making traffic and commuting into a game! You pick a little teardrop shaped avatar with a cute face, and off you go.  The app starts you as a “Baby Wazer” complete with diaper and soother.  The more you drive, the closer to an adult wazer you get, where you can personalize your avatar into a soccer mom or a ninja.  Climbing several status levels could eventually get you to Waze Royalty.  Also a pretty reliable map.



Need to kill time in the doctor’s waiting room? Stuck on an endless bus ride?

*Carcassone: A city-building game that’s a big tough to get into, but completely addictive when you do. based on the very popular European board game.


*Ticket To Ride: Woo wooo!!  Build rail lines across Canada and the USA, and watch out for your competition competing for the same real estate.  You couldn’t call me a train buff, but this game is surprisingly fun, easy and addictive.


*Harbourmaster:  Boats come into your harbour, and you need to dock them and unload the cargo.  The faster you dock, the faster they come in, and with bigger cargo loads. Don’t land your container ship on the bottom of the sea!

harbour images

Other built-in apps I get a lot of use out of are Podcasts, Weather, Videos and iBooks.

In case you want professional advice, here’s PC Magazine’s list of its Top 50 Free Apps of 2013.

I’d LOVE to hear some of your top apps…word of mouth is often the best way to find something useful you never even knew you needed!  Leave your list in Comments below.