GEO.2 Laser Welding

A unique technique developed by Tom Rucker

Inspired by Architecture and Aeronautics

light and strength

The idea of designing large scale jewellery pieces in a hollow and light but very strong structure was inspired by designs found in architecture or aeronautics, where large bodies with maximum strength and minimum weight is needed.

Tom was intrigued by the American designer, architect and visionary Richard Buckminster Fuller (1895 – 1983) and his giant Geodesic Dome. This was designed as a lightweight structure with maximum strength for the Montreal World Expo in 1967. In 1995, inspired by the Geodesic Dome, Tom introduced this technique to his work. Over the next two decades he worked to develop his intricate ‘GEO2’ laser-welding technique to its present exceptional, award-winning standard.

 

The GEO.2 Technique

Developed by Tom Rucker

The technique – Microscopic detail, maximum impact

 

A very thin Platinum wire – just 0.2mm – is welded over a body which will represent the final shape, it has multiple laser welds at each joint. The whole structure and the laser joints are so fine that the entire work has to be manufactured under a microscope.

After the laser welding is finished, the body is dissolved to create a hollow structure. For some designs – rings for example – where extra strength is needed, the wire joins of both layers are connected to each other, adding more wire by laser welding.

 

Meticulous planning

4,500 single laser shots per square inch

The arrangement of the wire is not arbitrary: the pattern of each join follows a planned system. The angle of the joins, as well as the shape and size of each single segment, plays an important part in arriving at the strength required for a high quality piece of jewellery.

Once the welding process is completed some designs are submitted to various thermal hardening processes,  enhancing the final strength of the product to the maximum achievable. Approximately 4,500 single laser shots per square inch and layers are needed to create a strong structure that can easily withstand normal daily usage.

The Materials

The primary material used is Platinum as this provides the best parameters for laser welding. In creating the technique – which uses high-end manufacturing methods – it was necessary for Tom to develop a special, unique Platinum alloy,  containing over 95 per cent Platinum, which fulfils the standard of the UK’s hallmarking guidelines. No metal supplements are used (e.g. Titanium or Nickel which could cause skin irritations). The very high content of Platinum and other precious metals makes this alloy very suitable for people with skin allergies.

 

The Challenges of Gold

Due to the  softer and more heat conductive nature of this precious metal the use of Gold for laser welding is limited; however, Tom has worked out special methods for gold welding using rare gold alloys and adjusting the settings of the welding equipment to make gold suitable for this technique.

 

Working with Metals and Gemstones

Tom prefers to choose a strong contrast between the high reflective surface of the platinum structure and precious stones or pearls. Natural colours of diamonds, varying from champagne, to cognac, or even rare pink, sapphires in all imaginable colour shades, rubies and emeralds are all considered.

Sublime Designs

Pink diamonds, yellow sapphires

The highly polished structures reflect light from any source at hundreds of different angles. This is comparable with the brilliant reflection of a diamond, creating a fantastic three-dimensional light effect. As Platinum is a rare and dense precious metals whose value continues to increase the use of this needs to be carefully considered with regard to the weight of the finished piece of jewellery. For some jewellery such as earrings weight must be limited. Fortunately the light nature of Tom’s ‘GEO.2’ allows for nearly all styles from fragile and tiny to large and chunky; the latter without the uncomfortable feeling of a heavy piece of jewellery.

Tom prefers to choose a strong contrast between the highly reflective surface of the platinum structure and precious stones or pearls. He uses a range of gems – sapphires (in all imaginable colours and shades), rubies, emeralds and diamonds (in a range of natural colours varying from champagne to cognac and even rare pink).

 

International Recognition

The combination of sublime manufacturing and alloying have not only led to the creation of ground-breaking techniques within the creation of bespoke jewellery but they have also resulted in very many awards for Tom from within and beyond the industry.

In 2007, 2008, 2015 and again in 2017 Tom was presented with awards for his laser welding technique from the highly prestigious Goldsmiths’ Craft & Design Council under the patronage of HRH Princess Michael Of Kent. These awards served to recognise Tom’s work; the high standards of excellence, technological expertise and innovative manufacturing techniques.