- I exclusively use 22 karat yellow gold in making my jewelry. I alloy the gold myself in my studio.
There aren’t many of us classical goldsmiths out there, but whoa…are we passionate about it.
- The process is slow but deeply rewarding work. I’m devoted to this ancient craft, even if it limits number of pieces I can make.
- After alloying (read Part 1), I use my forging hammer to prepare the gold for use.
- The molecules of the freshly alloyed ingot or dollop of gold are set into a structural order as the metal becomes work hardened.
- Once forged flat for sheet or into a square rod for wire, the gold is shaped further using my rolling mill
- Sandwiched between the steel cylinders, the graduating grooves on the left are for the beginning stages of rolling out an dollop into wire. The flat side on the right is for sheet.
From there the ingot is either rolled out in sheets, or pulled through a die to make wire.
- I roll sheet down to 26g & 24g. Or 0.0154" and 0.0201" thick.
- I use a micrometer as I roll out the sheet and wire to end up with standardized widths.
- Throughout this entire process I regularly anneal the gold as it gets work-hardened.
- Annealing is heating the gold with my acetylene torch until it glows red, and the allowing the gold to slowly return to room temperature.
Wafer thin mint! It feels like gold should feel when it's at this thickness.
- Annealing will set the gold back to "dead soft."
Annealing re-establishes malleability after the gold been work-hardened and won’t reduce further without cracking and breaking.
My next blog will tell you what happens next!