Jewelry Making - Methods & History
The astonishing art of jewelry making dates back thousands of years when jewelry was a mere means of personal adornment, where they were made with hands using the stones naturally available in its rawest form, tied together, somehow. With the passing of time we have witnessed a spectacular transformation of jewelry from shells on hemp strings to tiaras and crowns worn by royalty, it's a journey and a glamorous one. Throughout the ages, the continual discovery of new gems, precious metals and ornamental materials, combined with advancement of tools and metallurgy, have made it possible for almost everyone to own fine jewelry.
Each method has its advantages and shortcomings. Here in the blog we have briefly discussed some of the most popular ways of jewelry production.
According to the The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the United States guidelines hand-fabricated or handmade jewelry must be made entirely by hand or with hand tools like these. Therefore, a truly hand fabricated item is where everything from assembling materials to setting gemstones to polishing it is all done by hand or hand controlled tools. This process is surely time consuming and labor intensive, the pieces can be expensive, but the process has many benefits. For starters, it offers jewelers and designers a great amount of creative liberty. It’s often used for formulating custom-designed, one-of-a-kind pieces, or to pieces where gems are of such distinct cuts that would be difficult to set into pre-made mountings. it gives the designer as well as the wearer a sense of pride in owning one of a kind jewels, where no two pieces are alike.
Lost-wax casting aka Investment casting is a versatile process ( and a reallyyy old one) that produces both simple and complex designs that can be made for mass production and even for one-of-a-kind pieces. The rustiest known lost-wax-cast object, an amulet created by a community in the Indus Valley, is around 6,000 years old. The casting process has several steps, starting with creating a wax model of the piece to be cast. This is done either by hand or by injecting the wax into a rubber mold. A plaster-like material called investment is poured around the wax model.When the investment hardens, the wax is melted away, leaving a cavity that is then filled with molten jewelry metal. When the metal hardens, the investment is broken away, leaving a rough jewelry piece that is then finished and polished. Since it involves making a large number of identical pieces, it is both economical and affordable.
Die striking starts with manufacturing a steel pattern called a die that’s designed to create a particular jewelry item or component.Die mostly has two parts: a punch and a mold.
While processing, the machine cuts blanks of jewelry metals to the sizes and shapes needed for the jewelry item. A blank is then placed between the punch and the mold and subjected to tremendous pressure. This gives it a structured definition and compresses the metal to produce a dense product. As a result the jewelry is strong but at the same time lightweight since it uses very less metal. Die striking is economical which makes the jewelery affordable. Die struck items need less finishing than cast and hand-fabricated stuff.
In electroforming, several wax copies are created and coated with a thin layer of conductive paint. The copies are then submerged in an electrically charged solution that contains precious metal particles. The charged particles bond to the coating, building a metallic surface. When the precious metal layer is the desired thickness, the manufacturer removes the forms. A method of heating melts the wax out of a small hole in the Strong metal shell. Electroforming creates hollow jewelry that’s light in weight but has a massive look. What's exciting is that it is durable, definitely not as durable as cast and die-struck jewelry . Because it uses less metal than other methods, the process can also result in lower-priced jewelry. The main advantage of electroforming is that it accurately replicates the external shape of the mandrel. Generally, machining a cavity accurately is more challenging than machining a convex shape, however the opposite holds true for electroforming because the mandrel's exterior can be accurately machined and then used to electroform a precision cavity.
Machining begins with the melting of the precious metal, which is then hardened into a solid form called an ingot. After drilling through the center, a hole and smoothing the outer surface, the manufacturer has to force the ingot through a series of steps that condense, shape and elongate it inside a tube. When the tube is the desired thickness, the manufacturer cuts blanks from it that are slightly larger than the finished jewelry item. The blanks are mounted on cutting or milling machines for trimming to the desired size and shape. After that, the jewelry items are given a final polish. Jewelry made with this process includes wedding bands, solitaire ring settings, and more. It’s even possible to add a gem-setting step to the machining process. Because the metal is repeatedly condensed as it’s shaped, machining results in stronger, denser, and harder metal than would be possible with casting.