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Serendipity rings

Use flattened wire to create these quick rings in sterling silver, gold, bronze, copper, or steel


Ring, custom sized

  • 10 in. (25.4 cm) 10- or 12-gauge (2.6 or 2.1 mm) wire (sterling silver and bronze shown)
  • bentnose pliers
  • chainnose or flatnose pliers
  • roundnose pliers
  • flush cutters strong enough to cut 
  • 10- or 12-gauge (2.6 or 2.1 mm) wire
  • rolling mill
  • steel bench block with planishing
  • hammer (optional)
  • charcoal block or annealing pan
  • micro torch or Iwatani butane torch
  • copper tongs
  • quench dish with water
  • sodium bisulfate pickle solution (Sparex #2) with Crock-Pot or container on a hot plate
  • steel ring mandrel
  • bench vise 
  • rawhide mallet (optional)
  • if soldering: flux, flux brush, medium
  • silver solder
  • chasing or texturing hammer
  • needle file
  • if polishing after filing: polishing motor/bench lathe with 4-in. (10.2 cm) felt wheel and Tripoli, or flex shaft or rotary tool with extra-fine (pink) silicone polishing wheel
  • rotary tumbler with steel shot and Shine Brite burnishing compound
  • if patinating: liver of sulfur solution, 0000 steel wool


1. Flush-cut at least 10 in. (25.4 cm) of 10- or 12-gauge wire. Roll it through a rolling mill several times to flatten it to approximately 1⁄16 in. (1.5 mm) thick and at least 16 in. (40.6 cm) long. Do not attempt to reduce the wire to this thickness in one pass through the rolling mill; you may ruin the rollers.
If you don’t have a rolling mill, many jewelry suppliers carry rectangle or flat wire. Or, place round wire on a bench block, and use a planishing hammer to flatten the length of wire. Anneal the wire before continuing (see step 3).
Serendipity rings Photo A
Photo A
Serendipity rings Photo B
Photo B
Serendipity rings Photo C
Photo C

2. Flush-cut the wire to 14–16 in. (35.6–40.6 cm) long. A longer wire will make a wider shank and/or taller ring. For instance, the silver ring shank is 1⁄2 in. (13 mm) wide, and the bronze shank is 1⁄4 in. (6.5 mm) wide.

3. Anneal the wire to make it easier to manipulate. Wrap the wire into a coil. Place it on a charcoal block or in an annealing pan, and ignite your butane torch. Heat the wire evenly with a bushy, orange, reducing flame until it has a rosy glow (not bright red). Let the wire cool, and then use copper tongs to quench it in water, and then dry it thoroughly. (I don’t pickle the wire at this point, because the oxidation makes it easier for me to see what my design will look like.)

4. Secure a steel ring mandrel horizon-tally in a bench vise (Photo A). Center the wire under the mandrel at your desired ring size, and wrap the wire around the mandrel two to three times, depending on how wide you want your ring shank to be. End the wraps with the tails on top of the mandrel, facing in opposite directions (Photo B).

5. Use chainnose or flatnose pliers to grasp each tail approximately 1 in. (25.5 mm) from the shank. Pull tightly, cross the wires over the shank, and twist them around each other 360 degrees. Make sure this twist is tight and secure. For a wider look, twist the wires an additional 180–360 degrees (Photo C).

You may need to anneal the ring before you proceed depending on the kind of wire you use. Bronze wire work-hardens quickly and may need to be annealed a few more times before the ring is completed.
Serendipity rings Photo D
Photo D
Serendipity rings Photo E
Photo E

6. Use round- and bentnose pliers to twist, curl, and bend the tails into your desired shape on top of the ring shank. Trim the tails as desired, and make sure that the ends are either tucked in or rolled up onto the ring so that there areno rough ends protruding to catch on your clothing when the ring is worn (Photo D).

7. If your ring seems too tall, place it on the ring mandrel, and use a rawhide mallet to strike it lightly several times (Photo E).

If you shape the wire down the sides of the ring shank, solder the joins to lock the wire in place: Make sure the curled wire is flush with the shank, and clean the join thoroughly. Apply flux to the join, place a pallion of medium silver solder at the join, and heat the ring until the solder flows. Let the ring cool slightly, and quench it in water. Using copper tongs, place the ring in a warm pickle solution to remove any resulting oxidation. Rinse the ring, and dry it thoroughly.
Serendipity rings Photo F
Photo F
Serendipity rings Photo G
Photo F
8. Place the ring on the ring mandrel, and use a chasing or texturing hammer to texture the ring shank (Photo F).

9. With your fingers, feel all the twists for any rough spots, and use a needle file to file the ring until it’s smooth. To soften the edges, use a small polishing motor/bench lathe with a 4-in. (10.2 cm) felt wheel and Tripoli (Photo G); you can also use an extra-fine (pink) silicone polishing disk in a flex shaft or rotary tool.

10. Place the ring in a tumbler with stainless steel shot, water, and Shine Bright burnishing solution, and tumble-polish the ring for 30–45 minutes. Rinse and dry the ring. 

11. For an antique look, patinate your ring with liver of sulfur. Use 0000 steel wool to remove the patina from the high points, and then tumble the ring again as in step 10.
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