Cast vs Handmade: How we make our jewellery pieces November 08 2017

In today's world, a huge percentage of jewellery is mass-manufactured. With the advent of Computed Aided Design software (henceforth CAD), jewellery is commonly made by a process called "casting". For large jewellery manufacturers, hundreds of the same design are created and then standard size gemstones are set into them. Casting begins with the designs being carved by the CAD machine into wax models, then a specialised plaster is then cast around them on a "tree".

Casting trees - image courtesy of IJM
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Once the plaster has set, the wax is melted out, leaving a cavities inside the plaster. Molten metal is then poured into these cavities. When the metal has cooled, the plaster mold is removed and the individual jewellery pieces are clipped off the “tree”.  The pieces are then polished and the gemstones are set. 

The quality of our jewellery is something that we are immensely proud of and the way that our jewellery is made and constructed is of paramount importance. We specialise in traditional hand fabrication which means forging a piece by hand, without the use of CAD, wax models, casting or prefabricated pieces of any kind. 

Hand fabricated is the rarest type of jewellery construction. It means taking a raw piece of cold-rolled metal wire, bar or sheet of precious metal, such as Platinum or Gold, then through a process of cutting, hammering, shaping and annealing (heating), the precious metal is shaped into the required design. It is this process of heating and annealing that hardens the metal which the casting process skips, making handmade jewellery almost 50% harder than cast jewellery.

There are very very few jewellers that manufacture truly handmade rings. Many jewellery companies claim to make bespoke, one-off, custom made rings, when actually they are using the casting method. Cast production includes:

  1. Carving an original one-off ring in wax, getting it cast and polishing. This is not handmade.

  2. Buying cast components and soldering them together. This is not handmade.

  3. Designing a ring using CAD (Computer Aided Design program), printing a wax ring from that design, and casting it; again this is not handmade.

 

Handmade benefits:

  • Inherently stronger therefore increased security for your precious stones.

  • Much much tougher than cast pieces therefore can withstand the strain of day to day life. Cast metals are softer and lighter as they have been heated to a liquid state, cooled quickly and not hammered.

  • No chance of porosity (bubbles in the surface or just under) or crystallisation which are common faults in the casting process.

  • Holds the polished finish much better, doesn't scratch as easy and holds the shape of the design. Cast items do not wear as well as truly hand made pieces.

  • Crisper finish which is lacking in cast items; as a cast piece is usually created in one go, hard to reach areas are often left unpolished.

  • Modifications or alterations during making process are much easier

  • The range and complexity of designs we can offer is infinitely increased.  We are able to set more finely and delicately due to the stronger metals and also we can offer "tension set" rings.

  • Can be made more quickly; unlike sending orders to a casting factory which usually work on a timetable.

  • The finished piece will be totally unique - small “imperfections”, characteristics or changes are intrinsic to the process of handmaking a ring.

  • You can add your own twists to a design: we are not limited by any software

While we are specialists in hand fabricating jewellery, we do offer to make some of our designs by cast. The casting factory that we use only use the finest and strongest cast metal alloys available and the designs we offer to be cast are selected extremely carefully. However we prefer to hand make whenever and wherever possible as the quality finish and strength of the piece is second to none