Long-Term Relationships: A Platinum Ring Story

A ring I made over 16 years ago recently came back to me for sizing and got me to thinking about long-term relationships.

Platinum for long-term relationships

Karen’s ring, cast in platinum with a color-change sapphire.

Karen Russo, the owner of the ring, is a local (Eugene, OR) figurative ceramic sculptor.  Here are a couple of her pieces.

Karen Russo’s “For the Roses”

Karen Russon’s “Chronic Fatigue”

Check out more of her work here!  I’ve known her and her husband, Nick since 1994 according to my first record of them in my database.  Karen tells me that she received this ring for her 15th anniversary of marriage to Nick.  I feel quite honored to know these folks and to have worked with them several times over the last 2+ decades.  My relationship with them, as is the relationship between them, long-term.  They are long-term relationships.

Many Layers of Long-Term Relationships

Interestingly, the platinum ring that I sized for her also represents a long-term relationship of another sort.  Her ring was made using some of my own first efforts at using digital technology in my design and manufacturing.  Integrating digital design, and a very primitive form of 3D Printing was not a simple process back then.


Using a graphic design application called Corel Draw (which I still use for some things) I would create a design.  I then printed the design on clear film as a negative image using a laser printer.  Using this negative to control the exposure of a sheet of light-sensitive polymer the film was simply placed over the polymer prior to putting it in a UV light box.  Where light was not blocked from the laser print, it cured the polymer, making it harder and resistant to water.  The uncured part of the image was water-soluble, and I could etch the exposed image with water and gentle rubbing with a toothbrush.

I would then cut the etched design away from the sheet using a jeweler’s saw, smooth the edges and make a mold, vulcanizing the new object between layers of natural rubber.  The next step would be to cut the etched sheet out of the mold with a scalpel and using hot wax under pressure, inject wax into the space made by the etched design.  At that point I have a positive 3-dimensional positive of my design element.

Karen’s ring was mostly hand-carved, but I cut channels in the sides of the carved ring into which I could inlay my wax positives.  Then, using a modified lost-wax casting process, I could cast the entire ring, finish and set the gem.

Platinum, the Eternal Metal

Platinum is a great choice for long-term wear.  In jewelry form, it has a density nearly twice that of the most common gold jewelry alloys.  This density, along with its material character of malleability give it an amazing resistance to wear. Evident in this ring, over 16 years old, a little polish and it’s nearly as good as new.  As it happens, platinum prices are great right now.  Historically the price of pure Platinum is substantially higher than gold but that ratio has reversed.  Finished platinum jewelry will still be more expensive, gram for gram, than gold jewelry since we use it to a higher degree of purity, but the value is there.

Platinum sapphire ring

Karen’t ring, perspective view.

I Want a Long-Term Relationship with You

I personally, and we as an industry have come a long way from that time of rudimentary 3D  digital processing.  Now, I create most of my models in a CAD design program and print them on a 3D printer.  Still somewhat complex, but not nearly as many stages as Karen’s ring.  I have a thirst for new knowledge and a willingness to try new things.  You can trust Gary Dawson Designs to use the best and most appropriate technology in creating your custom jewelry project.  It gives my untold pleasure to juxtapose techniques both ancient and cutting-edge new in nearly each project I complete.

Gary Dawson Designs, using the most appropriate technology for your projects for over 4 decades.  Contact me here to inquire about your new project!

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