My skills as an
artist combined with my years of experience at the bench have given me
a practical approach to jewelry. While I want to achieve a bold, sculptural
look, my jewelry has an appeal because it is also wearable and enduring.
I often design with my artist’s heart, only to be tempered by my
technician’s hand that dictates what can be achieved in wax and
metal, the media of my art. Conversely, some of my best designs are a
product of technical skills meeting the challenge of an artistic hand.
Since coming out on my own as a designer, I have worked to define a
distinctive, unique style as presented in my most recent collections.
The driving inspiration behind my designs is a desire to unleash the elusive
beauty and innate sense of self esteem that emanates from the individual
in the wearing of fine jewelry.
Why Work in Platinum? Platinum is in demand with a growing market in the United States and Europe,
and has an already established market in Japan. Platinum is not a fad,
historically platinum has been associated with such famous names as Cartier,
Fabergé and Tiffany & Co. Platinum was the metal of choice
in the United States from the late 1800s until World War II, when its
use was restricted for the war effort. White gold was introduced as an
alternative white precious metal. Platinum is the world’s rarest,
purest, strongest and most precious of jewelry metals. These qualities
give platinum a life span longer than the average human life span.
Platinum is ideal for setting stones, a diamond’s cut and color
are complemented by platinum’s white luster. Precious gems are held
more securely in platinum. Because of its malleability, there is less
chance of breakage in a setting made of platinum. The platinum over the
stones in a setting won’t wear away as quickly as prongs made of
Platinum is pure both physically and visually. Platinum is combined
with only 5% or 10% alloys, making it purer than 14Kt gold (58.5% pure)
or 18Kt gold (75% pure). This purity means that platinum is hypo-allergenic,
allowing anyone to wear it. Platinum’s purity of color makes it
totally non-conflicting with any other metal, stone, or mode of dress.
In combination with gold, platinum takes on a new versatility. It can
be worn with any other piece of jewelry. When a designer works in platinum,
he is perceived by customers and peers to have earned the title of Master
Possibilities in Design Brightly polished platinum assumes a very fluid appearance that can greatly
assist flowing sculptural shapes or soften harsher shapes. Platinum’s
truly mirror surface can be utilized to reflect neighboring stones or
Platinum holds its polish, even when heated. This allows the jeweler
to pre-polish platinum parts before assembly. Platinum’s very high
melting point allows for assembly of very delicate platinum parts against
extremely heavy gold forms. A variety of gold inlay possibilities are
possible, from gold flake to artistic lines and designs.
Platinum can be drawn or rolled as thin as a thread or sheet of paper.
Platinum may also be formed to echo or follow another shape more easily
Texture can help to create mood in a piece—from subdued to dramatic
to chaotic. Texture can emphasize color differences between platinum and
gold. A matte finish can be achieved with rubber wheels. A satin or brushed
finish can be achieved with emery paper or a wire brush. Other texture
possibilities include stone finishing and sand blasting. Gravers, burrs,
and chasing tools can be used to create a variety of textures.
Considerations in Design The density of platinum makes it polish much more slowly than gold. If
platinum and gold are flush, some steps must be taken to adjust for this
difference in polishing speeds. Satin or matte finishing one or both surfaces
is the easiest way to contend with this problem. One can drop one edge,
making a ledge so that both metals can be polished separately. Placing
a groove between the two metals is yet another way of separating the two
The heaviness of platinum can add to its perceived value. Although,
if you make the piece too large or too heavy, it can become unwearable
Working in Platinum Platinum castings may be heat treated to assist in hammering, burnishing,
or to avoid cracking in general. Set a kiln at 700oC or 1300oF.
Pickle the platinum pieces for 15 minutes. Place platinum castings in
the kiln on a clean alumina ceramic block. Leave the casting in the kiln
at initial temperature for 45 minutes. Allow the platinum pieces to cool
in the furnace. Pickle pieces again for 15 minutes.
Preparing Platinum for Polishing Hammering tools may be constructed from used stone setting burrs. Please
find below a method of producing a hammering tool.
Heat the burr to cherry red for approximately one half minute to one
minute and allow to air cool. Cut off the tapered end or culet of the
burr. Bend the shank end of the burr at about a 30 degree angle.
The surface of platinum castings should be hammered with a light touch,
using multi-directional movements. Use wintergreen oil or household oil
to keep the surface of the platinum lubricated and smooth.
For burnishing, a tungsten or tungsten carbide burnisher will be necessary.
A piece of 1/8" outside diameter by 1 1/2" in length tungsten
or tungsten carbide is tapered on one end, much like a sharpened pencil.
Have the narrowed tip left rounded rather than blunt. A high polished
surface is desired. To taper and polish the tungsten burnisher, a diamond
grinding wheel and diamond polishing powders are required. It may be cheaper
to use a machine shop for this project, due to the high cost of supplies
for grinding and polishing tungsten/carbide.
The surface of platinum castings should be burnished multi-directionally,
using wintergreen or household oil. Heavy pressure can be used. This can
be done in the hand-piece of a flex shaft. For quicker results, put the
burnisher in a chuck adapter and use on a polishing lathe.
Polishing Platinum Always polish the platinum components before connecting to gold. This
keeps the gold from being polished away, which can happen because of the
difference in density between the two metals. Pre-polishing also allows
defects in the castings to be recognized and pits to be filled by welding
prior to assembly.
Assembly of Platinum to Gold The platinum and gold pieces should fit together as closely as is possible.
Cover the karated gold pieces with boric acid and alcohol glaze solution.
Always use a karat gold brazing filler material to match the color of
the gold used. The work surface should be kept clean and free of any residue
from filing, sawing or polishing.
Concentrate the torch toward the karated gold side. Clean off any filler
material that runs onto the platinum side before proceeding to the next
joint to be brazed. A brazing stop-off may be used to minimize filler
material running off into designs or on to the platinum component. Air
cool the piece before pickling. Pickle 15 minutes after filing using emery
paper. Clean out files with a file card or use separate files for gold
and platinum. Also use separate sheets of emery paper for gold and platinum.
Welding and Sizing With Platinum Always use UV protective eyewear when brazing or welding on platinum.
A #5 welding lense is adequate for brazing, while a #10 or higher lense
is required for welding or melting platinum.
Although oxygen/natural gas or propane is adequate for brazing, using
a hydrogen gas torch provides a hotter and cleaner gas. Below you will
find a procedure for filling pits in platinum castings.
Clean out pitted area completely by grinding into the pit with a high
speed bur, then pickle for 15 minuntes. Start with a coarser grit and
progress to a finer one.
Stainless steel shot can be used for the burnishing process in the tumbling
operation. Here it is important to consider the amount of impingement
that is being applied to the piece. The amplitude of the vibratory tumblers
should be reduced to minimize impingement. The shot shape will also affect
the degree of impingement imparted on a piece. Pins tend to produce a
better burnishing action than most other shapes. If a barrel tumbler is
being used, reduce the rotational speed to cut down on the degree of impingement.
Adding a polishing powder to the burnishing process will help improve
the overall finish. The time cycles in polishing platinum are going to be a matter of trial
and error in order to produce the best results. But once you have established
what works best in your machines, the process should be highly repeatable.
As a general rule, the cycle times for platinum will be longer than those
for gold and silver.