August 2002

Professional Bench/Manufacturing Up Close

A New Technology to Manufacture Jewelry with Granulation, Bead by Bead, Part 1

Steece Hermanson produces a platinum and 22k gold granulated pendant

We launch a new project in this installment of Professional Bench/Manufacturing Up Close. The four-part series features Steece Hermanson, shop manager for Galloway & Moseley, Sumter, SC, making the custom platinum and 22k yellow gold pendant pictured at right.

The pendant, featuring a bezel-set round green tourmaline, is hand-fabricated using 90% iridium platinum. The 22k yellow gold beads used to achieve the granulation are applied using ABIs Tack II tack welder. This series will feature numerous skills, including:

  • New granulation manufacturing methods using fusion welding equipment.
  • Bezel-setting round faceted gems.
  • Tack, pulse arc and fusion welding.
  • Platinum fabrication and assembly tricks.
  • Finishing and polishing techniques for platinum and karat gold.

Steece Hermanson

Hermanson works with a proportionately sized layout for the design and execution of the piece. He determines that the distance around the center stone bezel will accommodate the granulation beads without leaving excessive and uneven spacing.
He uses a mechanical layout on bond paper for the piercing overlays. He affixes them to the sheet material using Super Glue because it permeates the paper and creates a firm bond. The top part of the overlay is for the pendant bail; the lower part is the overlay for the top piece. Not shown is the overlay for the under gallery wire.
Using a standard 4/0 saw blade, Hermanson pierces all three pieces for the pendant from a 1.1-mm sheet of platinum using the piercing overlays.
In preparing to form the top piece, he uses a large dapping cube and a thick piece of leather. The piercing overlay is still in place. To protect the sheet, he lays the top piece into the large dapping block, paper side down, then puts thick leather over the sheet to protect it.
Using a large hammer and dapping punch, he shapes the platinum sheet by striking it lightly and moving the punch to several locations on the sheet between each blow.
The top piece is not fully formed. Notice the material along each side is bowed from the forming process.
Hermanson very lightly hammers the bowed part of each side to straighten it.
During the straightening process, hes careful not to strike the central portion of the domed sheet so it remains domed.
He has prefinished and prepolished the lower gallery wire and now uses fine point dividers to mark the lower gallery wire for placement of wire spacers. The spacers will fit between the lower gallery wire and the top piece.
Hermanson uses the Tack II welder with a probe lead. The tip has a U-shaped indentation that fits precisely over the platinum wire spacer, providing better contact.
He places the indentation over the platinum wire spacer. The lower gallery wire is placed on the contact pad lead. The contact pad has a carbon overlay over the copper so jewelry materials arent tack-welded to it. He sets the unit on the high-energy setting and the voltage at 40. As he depresses the foot pedal, the platinum spacer is tack-welded to the lower gallery wire. If hes not happy with the alignment of any piece, he can remove it with finger pressure and reposition it. Incomplete tack welds can be a result of insufficient pressure, debris or flashing. Hermanson is careful to inspect the joints before tack welding to eliminate these potential problems.
He removes the piercing overlay by soaking the top piece in acetone.
Next he ensures the fit between the lower gallery and top piece is even and symmetrical.
Once the fit is to his liking, he prefinishes the top piece, progressively using abrasive sticks and wheels. When using the wheels, he uses his Handler Super Sucker II dust collector to collect waste and keep it out of his face.
After completing the prefinishing and polishing to his satisfaction, he assembles the top and bottom. (For morel detail on prefinishing and polishing platinum, see Professional Jeweler, June 2002, pp. 110-115. The June story contained errors that will be corrected in the September issue). First, he uses the Tack II to join the two pieces using the bipolar tweezers lead. (He lined his bipolar tweezers with a thin piece of platinum to avoid contamination from dissimilar material.) Here the unit is set at 50 to 60 volts and is placed on the high-energy setting. All tack, fusion and arc welding requires firm contact devoid of debris and flashes of metal.
For a strong bond that wont break apart while hes obtaining perfect alignment between the two pieces, he arc-welds the assembly together using the Tack III pulse-arc welder. The assembly is in contact with the contact pad lead. Using the welding pencil lead, he arc-welds the components. He uses the #2 tip on the welding pencil lead with the electrode recessed in the ceramic sleeve about 1mm. The Tack III is set on the high energy setting and at 40 volts.
Now he uses the vacuum attachment and the Tack II to tack-weld platinum solder into position for torch soldering. He changes the sterling silver tube tip of the vacuum attachment lead to one thats flattened on the end and smooth. The Tack II is set on the low energy setting and adjusted to 25 volts.
This shows where he completed the tack welding of the solder piece.
Hermanson uses the ABI Tack II and Tack III welders throughout the day for a multitude of applications and keeps one of each on his bench full time for easy access.

See the next steps in the manufacturing procedure of this pendant in next months issue of Professional Jeweler.

by Mark B. Mann

Technical contributions and the overall process demonstrated by Steece Hermanson, JA® Certified Master Bench Jeweler," Galloway & Moseley, Sumter, SC

Questions regarding performing granulation using these methods and procedures should be directed to Steece Hermanson via e-mail at SHermanson@FTC-I.NET.

For more information about 22k gold beads for granulation, call SPM at (914) 273-5500.

Questions related to ABI equipment may be directed to Janet Kirk at (888) 494-2663.

This article was sponsored by ABI and Jewelers of America.

Copyright © 2002 by Bond Communications