Custom Titanium Ring Design - The Joy and The Horror
So, this guy sends me an email. I get them all the time. “Do you make custom designs?” My reply, sent with a mixture of hope and foreboding is “Yes, as long as it is something we’re equipped to create. Send me a picture or sketch of what you have in mind and I will let you know…” You see, titanium has its limits. While the metal works nicely as jewelry, given its hypoallergenic, lightweight qualities, persuading it to behave as a malleable metal is just plain impossible. In addition, casting titanium requires a vacuum since in its molten stage it becomes highly explosive if exposed to oxygen. Therefore, we have set ourselves up quite nicely with a working studio, in which we deal only with cutting titanium, not casting. In most cases, requests for custom designs are therefore denied due to these and numerous other limiting factors in the realm of titanium ring designs. In addition, when we are considering experimenting, we have to weigh in the initial cost as well as the potential for loss in materials and time if the design doesn’t work out. Now, back to my “guy” and his email. In his message, he tells me a story of a lost custom-made titanium wedding band. The company who made the band is no longer able to make them and his wife is upset that he is currently running around with no visible proof of being wed. Additionally, he has put in his request far and wide with no success. I’m not sure it’s a good thing that I work in customer service because it is really, really hard for me to say no. Especially when the wife is brought into the discussion. The ring in question is worth something more than just the metal and craftsmanship that went into making it. There are all the memories attached, starting from the first day of their marriage, the honeymoon, the hand-holdings, the pillow talks etc. Anyone who’s been married knows about the ring and all that it holds. Per my instructions, he sends me a picture of his long lost, custom titanium ring and I can see right away, without consulting my bold craftsman, Jake, that making this ring will require some work (if not a miracle). But I can’t rule it out because: #1) I can’t say no. #2) I believe in miracles. And #3) The ring design is not completely impossible. And sure enough, when I consult do with Jake, he has to agree. We both have a hard time saying no, and making a custom design offers us an opportunity to step outside of the box, which is always exciting. The design required hand pressing a platinum inlay into a Celtic knot pattern. After a practice run using silver, Jake felt confident he could manage the design using platinum. We were off and running! The entire project took some time as there were many details to attend to; sending out a sizing kit to our customer to confirm size, getting our machinist to cut the Celtic knot into a domed ring etc. In the end, I have to say, it was well worth it, and in the words of our dear craftsman Jake, “This ring was one of the most frustrating and at the same time satisfying rings I have ever made. I do love a challenge! It pleases me so much to work so hard on a project and to see it come to fruition so beautifully. I love to think of the person who will wear it and all that it will mean to them. It is why I do what I do." And yes, our customer, and his wife, are extremely pleased!
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- Susan Smith