Ever wonder how all our wonderful jewelry is made? Let’s go behind the lines and find out exactly what goes into crafting these little beauties….
We utilize whats called the ‘lost wax’ technique. It is derived from the process of removing the pattern, made of wax, from the ceramic investment mould. De-waxing is the term used to describe the process of wax removal from the mould.
Once the ceramic shell mould is completed and dry the process of removing the wax pattern can be undertaken. The wax is melted out of the mould creating a void, ready to be filled by another casting material, glass or metal. The mould should be placed on a heat proof perforated surface with a collecting pan/tray placed underneath. It’s a good idea to make sure that there is a quantity of solid wax in the pan/ tray as this keeps the wax that is to be melted out of the ceramic mould from catching fire while it’s being collected.
Heat is focused on the open aperture of the mould and connecting architecture of the mould, to rid the mould of the wax pattern. Heat is distributed evenly around the aperture of the mould so that within a few seconds wax will be seen evacuating out of the base of the mould into a collecting tray. Once this occurs attention can be directed to the main pattern of the jewelry, directing the heat up from the base of the mould, effectively melting concentric sections of wax out of the mould until the top is reached.
The process continues until it can be seen that there is no further wax leaving the ceramic mould. The mould will most usually catch fire, this is residual wax wicking in the mould body and will eventually burn itself out. At this point the ceramic shell mould will be at its most delicate and they require handling with care. Choices on continued processing depend upon the application of the mould and material to be cast.
Once the brass or silver mould is derived from the lost-wax process, it moves into polishing stage. At this stage, the mould undergoes a thorough “metal chasing” where the mould is polished by a polishing wheel removing any and all stubs or blemishes left by the spruing process and thereby leaving a smooth surface. Depending on the structure of a given piece of jewelry, welding may be necessary to connect the pieces together (i.e. necklaces). At this point, stones are set (glued or set on prongs) accordingly on the mould and undergoes another round of the polishing process.
The mould then enters its final step of the manufacturing process: Electroplating. For jewelry to receive a high-quality finish, it must first be cleaned of any contaminants, such as compounds, oils or solder flux that can obstruct the conduction required for electroplating. The cleaned part is placed on a metal rack and submerged in a series of cleaning solutions. Then the rack is negatively charged, attracting the microscopic ions of metal in the plating solution.
Copper usually is the first metal to be plated onto a piece of jewelry. Nickel typically is the next metal to be applied. Nickel eliminates porosity and adds strength and brilliance to the finish. For its final finish, the jewelry piece may be plated with one of a number of metals, including gold, palladium, rhodium, or .925 silver. The thickness and color of a given finish is controlled by the time the piece is left in the electroplating bath and the mixture of the solution. After the plating process, the piece is checked for porosity and shined so it is ready to be presented in its final and pristine form fit only for our customers.