I had an amazing Airbnb Experience at a diamond ring making workshop during my last minute trip to New York City. While I was booking my stays through Airbnb, I discovered “Experiences”. For those who didn’t already know, Airbnb has a section called Experiences (brilliant feature with so much value). They are activities you can book ahead to participate during your stay.
While there are plenty of interesting experiences in New York City, and while I did go a little crazy on booking a bunch of workshops for the different cities I would be traveling to, I decided I was going to have certain criteria to give my trip a little balance between planned and unplanned experiences:
- It needs to be something I cannot learn by following online instructions.
- It needs to be unique and opens up my creativity.
Not gonna lie, the title “diamond ring making workshop” really caught my attention. Honestly, I was not expecting to use a real diamond. I thought it would be a cheaper alternative, but I was told at the workshop that we would be using a real natural diamond. Oooooooooooh.
Our instructor and professional jewelry designer, Ayaka Nishi, has an interesting concept for her jewelry, inspired by nature and natural materials. And as it turned out, we were literally going to be making the ring FROM SCRATCH. How cool is that! The entire process was so enjoyable and (in a way) so therapeutic. I figured this activity deserves its own blog post, so here we go!
Cutting and Filing:
First we started out with the length of our ring size, and the ring width of our choice. We drew it out on a plate of brass (my choice of material), and cut it with a saw. We cut it as straight as we could, then we hold our tiny brass plate with a wooden clip and file away!
After filing until as perfect as we could get it to be, we then prepare to engrave our soon-to-be ring with any text of our choice. But first, we got to practice hammering letters onto a plate of metal. Once you hammer down the letter once, it’s done! If you hammer twice, your engraved letters may be blurry, so better to hammer them straight down once and firm!
The first time I stamped my hearts on the side of my name, I was a little nervous. Of course I wasn’t nervous on the practice plate, but on the real thing (yes you can roll your eyes now). My hearts came out a little light, so Ayaka suggested I break the rule and CAREFULLY align the stamp to hammer the second time. And it turned out ok! Note that these are the hearts though, so the shape was fairly simple. I imagine this would not be the case for the alphabets, and it would be much harder to do.
Shaping and Soldering:
This was so exciting! We then shape out the ring into, well an actual RING! Then we hammer the ring so that it becomes as smoothly rounded as possible.
Then we solder the ring closed using silver, solder paste, and fire!
I had so much help with my ring during this process. After we solder the ring closed, we made a base of our diamond to set, and solder it onto the top of the ring. After soldering, we also put our ring into some sort of acidic solution. I am a complete amateur, so I may not know what I’m talking about or the exact technical term or process for things. If you are an expert jewelry maker, please don’t mind my super novice way of describing this!
It’s really starting to come together at this point! The next step is the most satisfying, but also the most OCD triggering part, POLISHING! At this step, your ring becomes shiny and it’s the most satisfying feeling ever! But then if you’re like me, you just keep polishing and polishing…and polishing…and you polish some more, never really sure when is really enough.
Setting in Stone:
We’re almost ready to set the diamond in! But first we need to drill a v- shape into the base for the diamond. This is so that the diamond can lay flat and be set inside the base.
At this point, I was the slowest one in the group. Everybody was gone! So Ayaka came to help me with setting the diamond into the base. The hands in the picture are her hands 🙂
And DONE! So amazingly raw and best of all, MINE! It’s far from perfect, but I do really love it. I may try to learn about polishing a little more and may polish it more in the future. We’ll see.
This was such a great way to spend 2 hours in local NYC. This was my first Airbnb Experience, and it rocked, setting the bar really high for me in terms of my expectation of Airbnb experiences. Making a ring from scratch is difficult! Needless to say I had a lot of help. As you know, some of these photos were not even my own hands! I was quite slow, so I had a lot of help from Ayaka and the sweetest jewelry tutors (can I call them that?) Emily and Aiko. I highly recommend checking out Ayaka Nishi’s diamond ring making workshop. But don’t expect an expensive looking engagement ring (duh, if I could make that, I’d be teaching a class). Instead, expect a refreshingly raw and natural material ring with a natural diamond, and the pride of making your own diamond ring, from scratch! It’s freaking rad!
Ayaka also has an on going project based classes you can sign up for, which is a great option if you have jewelry making ideas and need help making them reality. I’m going back to NYC in a few months or so. At that point I might reach out to her to see other projects that I may have time to do during the week I’m there.
If you just want to make a simple diamond ring like I did, but wanted to use better materials that won’t tarnish, you have the option to use gold, white gold, or rose gold instead for a little less than 200 USD more. I would say it’s worth the splurge if you want to wear it regularly. If I could do over, I’d pay a little more for rose gold because I do like it a lot and wear it quite often.
Have you tried Airbnb Experiences? What kind of activity have you tried and how was it? What are some interesting crafting experiences have you had?