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I Forge Iron

Crafting a ring from jade.


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Since I haven't been able to turn up any good info with Google, I figure I'll turn to the place where I know many crafty folks hang out. I'm a beginner smith but since I accumulate hobbies and generally just want to make things, I've decided to make my fiancee her wedding ring.

I made her an engagement ring from coco bola and unfortunately with her sensitive skin she broke out in pretty short order with a rash everywhere the ring touched. Fortunately we aren't very superstitious so we didn't take that as an omen. :)

Anyway, my plan is to get a raw chunk of jade, probably from ebay, and to fashion a band from that. Then I'd like to inlay some silver around the band, maybe in a wavy line, maybe just a few dots, maybe a plain ol' band around the middle. Thing is, I can't find any information telling me how to go about this, so I'm issuing an open request for tips and suggestions.

If I were to take a crack at it tomorrow I would probably cut out a piece of jade, drill a hole roughly her size (size 5) and then begin the laborious process of filing the edges until it's a ring. Then I'd stick it on a mandrel in a lathe and try to put a groove around the middle and see if I could work the silver in by heating it and hammering it lightly. I dunno, I'm just making it up as I go along. What do you think?

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What I would suggest is to make a ring her size in sliver that you could set the jade into.The big problem with solid stone rings is that they will break rather easily when rapped against something.It`s not a matter of if it will break it`s a matter of when.Especially when you`re talking about something thin enough to look right on a woman`s hand.
Backing the stone with metal like silver or gold supports it and makes it less likely to fracture.
Many of the metaphysical shops sell solid stone rings in a wide variety of stones(jade included) for less than $5 each because they know they are an item that will not last 6 months.

This idea is not a good follow up to the cocobolo ring.
BTW-Making a ring or anything else(like eating utensils)that comes in contact with skin out of a wood like cocobolo or mansonia and other related woods is like making one out of a poison ivy vine or worse.
Best to do research before you try something you`ve never done before.Some woods,metals and even stones are toxic and some people can have reactions even to ones that aren`t.

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There is a slight possibility you could turn an undercut groove into a round of jade and tap in *FINE* silver enough that it would stay put. However I would do it before boring out the center for as mentioned stones are notoriously fragile---it's amazing how many engagement diamonds are loss from washing dishes and striking a sink "just right" to cleave the stone!

I agree that making a silver "surround" for the ring leaving a ring of jade exposed would be the better bet.

I wear a silver wedding ring myself as they tend to wear fast on me---we're on our 4th since we got married 26 years ago. (still have all the battered old ones too!)

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Working jade is NOT for the novice lapidarist. While it's darned tough and can make a reasonably durable ring, my older sister's been wearing a jade wedding ring for probably 40 years or more. She can't wear metal, any metal even gold makes her break out and swell up.

There are two significant problems working jade. It's hard, really hard so the tooling is expensive. For instance you are not going to chuck it up in a lathe mandrel or not and be able to cut a groove in it let alone file it unless you have diamond files and lathe tooling. The other big technical difficulty of working jade is it's crystaline structure, it's most closely related to asbestos containing more molecular water and it has the same structure. It's crystaline structure looks just like asbestos, long fiberous but really REALLY hard.

Both these main traits are closely related but have different effects. Hardness means higher quality and cost tools and polishes, specialized coolants and apparatus. The crystal structure makes it really hard to get a good polish on as you tend to expose the ends of fibers while polishing and it's just plain really REALLY hard to polish through the exposed fibers and NOT polish on through to the next ones.

Lastly is the real thing to think about while polishing jade, it's the same darned stuff as asbestos just a LOT harder and (better still) you're making it into dust to cut, shape and polish it. Seen any Mesothelioma commercials on TV? The main difference is asbestose fibers are soft and flexible while jade is significantly harder than glass, same shape just a LOT harder.

Most of my Father's old rockhound friends that polished stones died decades ago from lung problems, Dad died of COPD. Not that polishing stones was the only cause but it seems to me all the old school guys Dad used to hang with died of lung crud of some type or another.

I'm not saying it can't be done, just that you need to know what you're doing to have a chance of success at all and more importantly know how to do it without giving yourself lung cancer. One of Dad's secrets was using water soluable oil in his saws, lap tables, tumblers, etc. to contain the dust.

Frosty the Lucky.

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Don't forget that "jade" is two different minerals too Nephrite and Jadeite (and a whole lot of crud that gets sold as jade but ISN'T!

Don't forget Serpentine and as you say, all the others. Soapstone is in the same family and works so very well for marking steel for torchwork because it doesn't burn off like chalk. Yeah, it's basically asbestos with a bit less molecular water, on the up side it isn't as bad for your lungs. Not good but not so bad, you do have to be careful if you're going to carve soapstone, some is darned bad for you.

Frosty the Lucky.
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You don't mention your location, if you were in Las Vegas I would say contact the Southern NV Gem and Mineral Society. Most areas have a rock club, so check with the senior center, as that is where they meet a lot of times. Our club has a full tilt workshop with saws, Genies, flat laps, etc. They also teach silversmithing. So if you have a group in your area they should be able to help you out from selection to manufacture.

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