It started with an ad on Instagram—or maybe, it started with the deluge of engagement rings that have flooded my feed as I sat there all by my lonesome. Well, not really, but perhaps that would've made the more interesting story. Truth be told, I just wanted a ring to adorn my pointer finger, and this workshop provided the perfect backstory. After all, the best jewelry is personal, right?
So I secured myself a slot at a workshop in QC. Studio 925 is a jewelry-making studio in Teacher's Village that was founded by Janina Arias and Patricia Peralta in 2015. It gets its name from the alloy it mainly employs, sterling silver, which is—you guessed it—92.5% silver. It offers silversmithing classes for beginners and intermediate artisans as well as workspace rentals by the hour, which includes the materials and tools one will need. Naturally, as an absolute noob at metalsmithing, I started at Intro Level 1, ring-making.
Let me walk you through it: The instructor first shows you samples of past works to give you a better idea of what your options are: straight or tapered, thin or thick, smooth or textured, shiny or oxidized. You don't have to decide on the spot, but you have to know what you want when the time the comes.
Now let's begin. First, you torch the sheet of silver, which they have prepared for you. This fortifies it and makes it more malleable. (Yes, the workshop is cute and airconditioned. Yes, there is a silent-but-powerful exhaust vent right above workstations where fumes may be emitted. I made sure to check.) You then take your measurements (finger circumference and band thickness) and score the metal. Next is your first test of strength. You're going to take the metal snips—large, heavy scissors, really—and cut the silver. My instructor Mai Evangelista made it look like she was cutting paper, but trust me, it was a hand and forearm workout.
Then, a realization: Rings don't start out round. You form the strip into a U, then bend the ends to form a capital D. Don't even try to form a circle, you'll end up confusing and tiring yourself. True story. Then you add small bits of metal and a gel called flux to the gap and seal it with the torch. Once the instructor deems your soldered joint strong enough, it's off to the pickling pot. It's basically just left in a hot solution for cleaning, so you get a good 10 to 15 minutes of rest here.
Once the "ring" is rinsed with water, it's time to turn it into an actual ring—the true test of strength! Slot it through the ring mandrel, a heavy tapered metal baton with ring size gradations and start pummeling until it's perfectly round. As you go along, the ring will expand. Be sure not to overdo it, especially if you plan to add texture later on. There is no reset button! Try it on your finger every so often to be sure. Then, file the excess solder from the joint so your ring is immaculate, and sand it all over. Wear googles and a mask at this stage; silver dust will be flying everywhere. It also helps if your fingernails extends a little past your fingertips, so you don't accidentally file your flesh. Remember, this is a metal file made for metal, not your regular emery board, so the burn is different. That also means it'll require more strength than filing a fingernail. I cannot stress enough how much physical strength this class requires!
Now it's time for the finishing touches. If you planned on adding texture to your ring, now is the time to get hammering. Once you're happy with its look, sand the inside and the edges of your ring to be sure it's a hundred percent comfortable to wear. Then it's thrown in a metal tumbler to give it some shine; you're bound to lose a tiny bit of texture here. Once it's come out, ta-da, you're done. Head to a nail salon or a cafe for a snap on the 'gram and the circle will have completed itself.
Studio 925 is located at Unit 2C, No. 22 Malingap St., Teacher’s Village West, Diliman, Quezon City 1101. It offers more silversmithing and stone-setting classes, and even DIY wedding rings. Custom fabrication is also available upon request. Find out more through their website, Facebook, and Instagram. You may also get in touch with them by SMS (0977 805 28 06), landline (745 54 82) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org).