The workshop was amazing - we got there at 10 on the button (local church bells chiming the hour), and into a very hot workshop. There were 4 couples doing it, and we each had our own expert to help us (ours, Tom, has been jewellery making for 15 years!). We started off by sitting with him and discussing exactly what we wanted - there were lots of plain bands that we could pick so that we could look to see what different sizes and weights looked like, and we discussed how we could make mine so that it fitted to the engagement ring. Then we got taken over to the workbench, and got given our lumps of metal and a blowtorch. Under the guidance of Tom, we melted down enough each of the metal to make each other's ring, and poured it (quickly - it solidifies really fast!) into a bar mould. Then, after Tom had dipped it in water to cool it down, we squashed the bars through a mill which stretched them out and squashed them into a length that could go round a finger (with a bit extra for overlap. Then, after a reheat (squashing them like that stretches and knots the molecules and makes the bar impossible to manipulate), we got to bend the bars round into a ring shape. Mine was easy - because John's ring was just a straight band (and reasonably thick rather than being delicate), it got put into a vice, and I got to hit it with a mallet until it was roughly bent round! John had a bit more work, as my ring is more delicate, and had to be bent in a specific way to start the shaping process, so he had to bend it with pliers. Then cutting off the overlapping ends with a hacksaw, and using gold solder to seal the ring together. Tom then dunked the rings in diluted sulphuric acid to clean off the oxydised blackness (glad he did that bit - it splashed, and he had to go to wash his arms because they were starting to itch!), and the long process of filing and polishing began! (At this point, Tom said that as the dangerous stuff was finished, did we want our champagne now?) It started off with a filing tool, but quickly went on to differently graded sandpaper, right down to a very fine polishing paper. It was just amazing to see the lump of metal that just happened to be bent into a circle transforming into a ring! And then we got to take them down to the professional polishing machines, where they were buffed to an amazing shine (and Tom buffed up my engagement ring for me as well - he got out the dirt that had been caught under the diamond that I couldn't remove by myself :-) ) We also got to see one of the other couple's white-gold rings being electroplated (I don't really get white gold - why take something that is nice and yellow and make it look like silver?)
They are then sending off the rings to be assayed (i.e. to prove that they used 18 carat gold not brass...) and hallmarked - they will then post them down to us in a couple of weeks' time. So no rings yet, but once I remember to bring the camera in to be developed (they gave us a disposable camera, and Tom took photos of every stage), I'll be able to upload photos.