Palladium And White Gold Columbine Engagement And Wedding Set

When my husband's boss approached me to create a custom engagement ring for his girlfriend, I pretty much had no idea what I was doing. Don't tell him that.

The future groom and I came up with a design concept over the course of several brainstorming sessions, incorporating two unique flowers with historic and faith based meaning into a flowing ring of petals and diamonds. Sketching out the idea challenged me; at that point, I hadn't done any drawing since high school. But I muscled through it, fleshed out a few different views of how the ring should look, and added in some pictures of the flowers that the design was based on. Our original plan was to have the ring made through my place of employment, with me acting as sort of a designer/middle man.

That… didn't work out so well.

My employer was supposed to take my design and create a 3D version using a CAD program, mechanically milling it out of wax to achieve precise detail. After six months of complications and excuses, I decided to take matters into my own hands. Literally.

I ordered some wax, and got to work.
I used a hand file to shape a solid chunk of wax into a band and a flat base to support the two flowers that would form the top of the piece.
I switched to a different sort of wax to create the flowers. The purple wax I used becomes pliable as it warms in your hands, working like clay. I took tiny pieces and formed each broad, flat petal of the columbine flower, laying them out on the ring and rearranging as needed before melting them in place. I made sure to leave room in the center of the flower for a small diamond.

I then formed the other flower, making sure to include the bittersweet's signature crease down the center of the center of the petals. Each flower spreads one petal over the top of the ring to act as a bezel for the central diamond, which was pretty tough to form without having the diamond on hand to fit in place.

I then added the second layer of petals to the columbine flower. Gosh, those were tiny! Instead of melting them to the existing wax, I used superglue. It created a secure connection without destroying the work I had already finished. After touching up any imperfections and debris left on the wax from working, after 14 straight hours over two days… it was ready for casting!

The casting came out fairly well; palladium is a finicky metal to work with. It often ends up with a good deal of pitting and porosity, which this piece certainly had. I used a laser welder to fill in the pits, burnished it, and filed up the metal, shaping and blending the ring until it was ready to showcase three sparkly diamonds.

Just to be safe, I asked one of my bosses at work to set the diamonds. I didn't want to learn how to set stones on this piece after all the trouble it had gone through already! The ring was past due, and I wanted it done right and quickly.

This ring represents a turning point, not only in the lives of the couple whose future marriage it represents, but in my own life as well. Working on it inspired me to push myself out of my cozy little routine, out of the "I'll do something awesome someday" mentality and into something new. Thus began my journey on the road to creating my own jewelry rather than simply fixing someone else's. I realized that becoming a jeweler, an artist, wasn't (isn't) the unreachable dream I had turned it into in my head . I possessed the ability to make it happen. All I needed (and need) was practice and direction. I think I'm getting it.

While I can't reproduce this piece exactly, I would be thrilled to make a similar set. Price does not include diamonds.

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Made in Rochester, NY

By Samantha Lake Designs

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