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How Is Custom Jewelry Made?
This is the main focus of Jack Hood Jewelers, Inc. As the name implies, we have the capability -- and willingness-- to make the article of jewelry you desire exactly the way you want it. To make a long story short, with us, you can have it your way!
There are many techniques that can be employed in making a custom designed piece of jewelry. They range from a simple assembly process, in which various parts and/or stones are selected from available picture catalogs and assembled by the goldsmith to create a finished piece. For example, one might own or select for purchase a diamond or colored gem of a certain shape and size, and then select a band style and the appropriate setting (head) style and size to secure the stone. When all parts are permanently assembled and polished and the stone is set, the finished piece is unique to your taste.
Many designs visualized by our clientele cannot be accomplished strictly by the assembly process described above for various reasons. Sometimes the principle stone is of non-standard dimensions, and cannot be set in any available standard dimension setting. There are several gold fabrication techniques for making a setting to fit the stone.
Perhaps a desired band style is not available as a "ready made" in the width or finish desired--it can be custom made in a number of ways. These and other techniques are available in our custom workshop. In addition to these, however, one of the most versatile ways to make a desired piece to custom dimensions is through the Lost Wax Casting process, which is another option at Jack Hood Jewelers, Inc. and is discussed below.
The Lost Wax Casting process basically starts with rendering the design of the desired piece of jewelry in a sketch or drawing, detailing all parts and styles needed, and then fabricating each part in wax, then assembling all the wax components into a full size wax model of the item. This wax model can be easily adjusted to finger size, in the case of rings, and the settings (or heads) can have the proper stones temporarily mounted, so that the finished model-- at actual size--can be shown to the client for approval. At this point, with the stones removed, the wax model can be weighed, and the finished weight in gold, silver, or platinum can be calculated. The finished price of the item based on metal used, stones used, and labor can be projected, usually to within 2 or 3 percent accuracy.
The meaning of the term Lost Wax become apparent when the next step of the process--casting--is accomplished. In the casting phase of this process, the wax model is converted into the desired metal. No, this is not alchemy! What actually happens is the wax model is enclosed in a plaster/water mixture within a steel cyclinder, called a flask. The plaster is allowed to harden, after which the flask, with the wax model enclosed in plaster, is placed in an electric or gas high temperature oven, called a Kiln, and heated to 1350 degrees Fahrenheit for several hours. During this phase, called Burnout, the wax model is eliminated from inside the plaster, included all ash or residue (note the term "Lost Wax") leaving an exact reverse impression of the wax model. The next step is to fill up this cavity with metal--this is called Casting.
During the Casting phase, molten metal is forced into the cavity left by the wax model. There are several ways to accomplish this--we use the centrifugal force method, whereby the molten metal is placed in a horizontally-mounted centrifugal caster, in line with the hot flask. The core of the caster is a high tension coiled spring, when released, allows the molten metal--gold, silver, platinum-- to be centrifugally forced into the cavity of the flask left by the wax model. In this way a perfect reproduction of the wax model can be produced in the precious metal of choice. Normal finishing, polishing, and stone setting, if applicable, is then performed, and the item is checked and certified ready for delivery.