Hello again and thank you for visiting my designing page. In this section I am going to give you my personal views and different aspects on designing jewelry but before we get there I am going to gather all the years of personal experience in creating jewelry to support my definitions. Note that these definitions are going to be concise. If you need more information go into my contact page and send me a message with your questions.
I will explain the complete jewelry making process beginning with:
Wax Model Making: There are two types of wax modeling. The first one is by working directly on a wax block using different types of tools; the most essentials are files, saw blades and carving tools. A good jeweler will always customized and build his or her own tools.
The second one will be through cadcam which means creating a model first through a 3-D software and running the file on a prototype machine to obtain the resin. Once the wax is made we go to the next step which is casting.
Casting Silver: In jewelry terms casting is nothing less than converting wax into metal. This sounds a little odd, right? Well is more complicated than odd. First you take the waxes and attach them to bigger piece of wax that looks like a small pipe; this is call making the tree. After the tree is made it gets placed inside a metal container called flask. This flask gets filled with casting compound a.k.a. Investment then the flask goes into an oven overnight and the result is that the resin gets burned out leaving the shape of the waxes inside the flask, this process is called de-waxing the flask. The next step is called the flask burn out, after that the silver grain get melted at a very high temperature into a liquid form, this liquid silver gets poured into the flask through a casting machine taking the shape of the waxes, after it cools off you will obtain the silver. Now is time to clean it.
Silver Jewelry Cleaning: Let’s assume that the silver that just came out from casting is a pendant. This pendant is usually given to the jeweler to be cleaned, this means to take all the roughness from the metal, to fix any porosity that it may have and to attach a spreu which is basically a piece of copper wire welded onto one of the ends of the pendant, usually the end that has less details. Now the pendant is ready for rubber molding.
Rubber Molding: Also two types. First we have the conventional type, rubber slices that get placed on top of each other then you put your pendant in the middle and some more slices on top. This rubber gets placed inside a molding pan that goes into a a heating presser for about an hour (depending on the presser) where the rubber gets solidified into one piece. After it cools off the rubber mold gets cut through the middle in order to get the silver out, now the rubber mold has the shape of the pendant.
The other type of molding is called “cold molding”. This molding process is used to make molds out of resins from the prototyping machines or from finished jewelry. This is made with a silicon compound, the resin or metal model gets placed inside a mold and the silicon compound gets poured in until it dries up. It takes several hours to get dry, hard and ready to be cut to get the metal or resin model out; once the silicon mold is cut everything is set to start production.
Making The Waxes: This process is made through a wax injecting machine. Remember the spreu on the silver? Well the purpose of the spreu is to create an opening on the rubber mold where the wax get injected, the wax is hot and also in a liquid form, once inside the rubber mold the cooling time is a few minutes. You can repeat this process and make as many waxes you want for production.
Making The Tree: Same process like casting the silver, the only difference is that now you have the option of casting in different metals and quantities.
Lost Wax Casting: There are different procedures for casting different metals. The temperature varies from metal to metal, also for casting platinum you need a different casting machine. Platinum get melted at a higher temperature
After Casting: Now that the casted tree with all the pendants is out the pendants need to be separated from the tree by cutting the spreus. Now the pieces are ready to go into jewelry cleaning
Jewelry Work: The next step is to ground off the metal where the spreu was cut and to clean the pendants. A good jeweler will always check the metal for flaws (dents and porosity). The next step will be to put the pendants into the tumbler and this depends on the jeweler, some jewelers like to tumbler the pieces before cleaning and some after cleaning to get them ready for pre-polish.
Pre-Polish: A good polisher will always start by checking the pieces for any flaws before starting to work on the piece. Basically pre-polish means lapping the piece if it needs to, shining the negative side or windows and polishing the settings surroundings
Stone Setting: Only if there are gems that need to be set. Also a good diamond setter will check the piece before working on it to acknowledge any issues.
Quality Control: This is the final step on this jewelry making process, the person performing this duty always look for porosity on the metal, stain on the metal (usually due to rhodium plating), even shape, loose stones, crooked stones, same diamond color and clarity, over polishing and overall simmetricity.
Before I get into the definition of designing I must mention something very important to anybody in the jewelry industry and that it never gets old to me: It takes a lot of effort and time to create fine jewelry but it only takes a minute in the hands of a careless or inexperience person to ruin it.
When it comes to jewelry designing I must mention the two most common types of designers: The artistic designer and the technical designer.
Artistic Designer: As the name states it, is a talented individual with a very creative mind and drawing abilities capable of turning the bizarre into beauty and vice versa. This creativity has two different categories that I must mention; the first one is when the designer is a natural which means that he was born with the gift of designing. For example, the designer is in a park looking at a tree, looking at the branches and how they interlace with each other and all of a sudden this vision becomes an idea that develops into a pattern, very soon the designer is going to visualize this pattern into a hand drawing to become a piece of jewelry, a bracelet, a pendant, the shank of a ring, etc.
The second one is when the artistic designer has the natural abilities but doesn’t know exactly how to bring them out and seeks the help of a technical school to get help on how to express and develop ideas that become a design. There the future designer learns about drawing techniques, textures, trends, colors, materials, how to be creative, how to visualize, how to think jewelry, perhaps how to use a software to create jewelry. It will also learn about metals, gems and the process of how a jewelry piece is made.
Technical Designer: It’s very hard to describe in a few paragraphs what a technical designer is but I will do my best to simplify it for you. Let’s begin by saying an artisan and an engineer that usually has a Bachelor’s degree.
An artisan, also called a craftsman, is a skilled hands on worker who crafts items in metal that may be functional or strictly decorative, here is where the goldsmith and silversmith categories fall in. In this case we are going to apply this definition to our field which is jewelry so let’s talk goldsmith.
Goldsmith is the process of making jewelry directly onto the metal; a person that can shape the metal, clean it, weld it, polish it, and set precious stones.
An engineer, someone that may not necessarily have the talent like the craftsman but has the passion for designing jewelry, this individual will attend school and will learn designing, and in a four year program it will spend half the time in a jewelry shop trying to learn what the artisan has been doing in most cases most of their life. One of the advantages of an engineer is the different types of software that is being used to create jewelry that helps with accuracy and timing. They both have their advantages and disadvantages but will is another chapter that I will write about in the future.