by Rena Klingenberg.
This adjustable class ring is a handmade re-imagining of the traditional graduation year jewelry styles.
The simple, bold style works for both guys and gals – and makes a great gift for high school and college students.
The adjustable fit makes it comfortable to wear.
- A piece of metal sheet – 22 or 24 gauge (I used 22 gauge copper), that measures at least 0.75″ x 3″ (2 cm x 7.5 cm).
Most jewelry suppliers that carry metalworking stuff carry sheet metal. I got mine online from Monsterslayer.com.
- Small piece of paper for making your ring pattern.
- Ultra-thin Sharpie marker – for marking your pattern on the metal, and for darkening your stamped numbers.
- Jeweler’s saw, tin snips, or other scissors that can cut metal (you can get these snips and scissors pretty inexpensively at a hardware or home improvement store).
- #0000 steel wool – a small piece.
- Number stamps that are made for stamping metal.
- Steel jeweler’s block and metal hammer for stamping your metal.
- Plastic, nylon, or rawhide hammer for flattening and hammer-hardening your metal.
- Ring mandrel (or dowel, PVC pipe, marker, or other sturdy cylindrical object that’s about the diameter of your finger).
- A few drops of rubbing alcohol and a scrap of paper towel, to remove excess ink.
How to Make the
Adjustable Class Ring:
Get out your piece of sheet metal:
Make the paper pattern for your ring.
I wanted the ends of my ring to overlap as part of the design.
So for a size 7 ring I created a paper pattern that’s 7.5 cm long, and tapers from 1.5 cm wide at one end to 0.6 cm wide at the other end:
Now place your paper pattern on your sheet metal, and use your marker to trace around the edge:
Use your jeweler’s saw, tin snips, or other metal-cutting scissors to cut out your ring. Be sure to round off sharp corners as you cut.
Caution: The edges of your sheet metal are as sharp as a knife. Be very careful not to cut yourself!
Now it’s time to smooth off the sharp edges all the way around your piece of metal, so the finished ring will be safe and comfortable to wear.
Take a small piece of #0000 steel wool and fold it over one of the edges of your metal.
Use the steel wool to sand and smooth every edge and corner of your piece of metal. Continue sanding until every edge is completely smooth and couldn’t possibly cut anyone.
Also use your steel wool to smooth and buff the two flat surfaces of your metal (front and back):
Now let’s stamp the numbers on the ring.
If you’re new to metal stamping: see my tutorial, Metal Stamps – Tips and Techniques.
Place your piece of metal on a jeweler’s steel block or other hard, smooth surface.
Set out the stamps you’re going to use.
To avoid stamping a typo, double-check that you have the correct numbers for the year you’ll be stamping – and place the stamps in the order you’ll be using them.
Now go ahead and stamp your numbers the way you want them on the ring:
Now your ring should look something like this:
When you’re finished stamping, use your ultra-fine point Sharpie marker to color in the stamped numbers.
Be sure to work ink into each part of the recessed numbers:
Let the ink dry for a couple of minutes. Then wipe away any excess ink, using rubbing alcohol on a paper towel scrap:
Now wrap your ring around your mandrel (if you’re using a ring mandrel, be sure to wrap your metal around the proper size marking on the mandrel).
As you wrap your metal around the mandrel, make sure the ends of the ring overlap the way you want them to be on the finished ring.
Use your plastic, nylon, or rawhide hammer to pound your ring into shape around your mandrel:
Now your ring should be smooth and round:
I was originally planning to oxidize this ring to give it a more rugged look.
But I like the contrast of dark numbers against the glowing, buffed copper so much that I decided to skip the oxidizing.
More Graduation-Year Jewelry Projects:
Also be sure to see my tutorial for Grungy Graduation Jewelry!