Lost Wax Casting
Step 1: The Drawing
Each piece of custom jewelry starts life as a series of ideas and sketches taken from our clients goals, dreams and emotions and is molded into a design especially for you. It all when you talk to our designers and discuss what look you are trying to achieve. In some cases it's a reminder of jewelry owned long ago, in others it's a reminder of the joy that is to come. We take those thoughts and emotions and use them with our jewelry design skill and create a piece of jewelry that is uniquely yours.
Step 2: Wax
From these pictures we create the wax for casting. How we carve the wax is determined by the design of the jewelry. For most of our work we now send our cad files to our new 4 axis-mill and have each piece cut with exact precision based on the model we built in the computer. Some pieces do not lend themselves to being milled though. For those we have a master engraver / wax carver take over and hand carve the wax making even the basic wax model it's own unique piece of art. In either case, every wax is inspected and refined by our wax carver until it is as near perfect as we can make it.
Step 3: Casting
The next step is to take that wax model and turn it into a piece of metal. We do this by placing the wax in a metal flask and pouring an investment (a lot like plaster) around the wax. Once the investment hardens we place the flask into a burnout oven. Most flasks are burned out at over 1000 degrees celcius. But each burnout is determined by the type of metal we will be casting, and the type of wax being burned out.
After about 8 hours in the oven the flask is removed and placed in our centrifugal casting machine where we take an oxygen / hydrogen torch and melt the needed metal. Silver and gold are both relatively easy to cast, with melting points below 1100 degrees C (2000 degrees F). Platinum presents unique problems because the melting point is over 1800 degrees C (3000 degrees F) and requires a much hotter flame to melt it and very strict safety proceedures to keep us safe from molten metal.
The picture of the rough casting shows you just what the metal looks like before we begin to sand and polish. You can see the dull color and the rough texture that needs to be cleaned up.
Step 4: Stones and Polishing
Next we see the ring after the first polishing has been completed and the stones have been set. The ring is beginning to take on that high polished look and all of the curves and surfaces have been smoothed and prepared for engraving. If you look closely at the rough casting picture and compare it with the polished picture you can see a large bar of metal is missing from where the bottom edge of the sapphire was set. This bar is intentionally cast larger than needed, just like all of our prongs are, so that we have more than enough metal to hammer down over the stone and polish without leaving the stone set with too thin of a piece of metal. This is something to consider when looking at waxes and even drawings, scale and thickness is a hard thing to determine without a clear understanding of just how each piece of jewelry is made.
Step 5: Engraving and Final Polishing
Our last two pictures show off the finished ring. Final polishing has been done, all of the unique hand engraving is complete, and the ring is ready to be shown off to the customer. For these pictures I've added some black coloring to help the engraving stand out more for the photograph.. Before it's sent out the ring is cleaned again to return it to that amazing shine that we wish lasted forever. From here the ring runs through a double inspection process, in fact, at anypoint in the entire creation process any one here can reject any piece of jewelry as not up to our standards and sent back to the previous level to be corrected, before we box it up and send it out to a hopefully very happy customer.
At Images Jewelers, we are more than just sellers of jewelry. We design, create, and present you with the finest jewelry made.