Jewelry School: Casting Cleanup
Nearly every design we create in the shop starts as an original wax carving. But how do we create multiples from the original? Molding and casting!
Molding doesn't create a perfectly finished copy each time. While it does make it possible to create multiples, each one needs to be refined and polished before it’s truly jewelry quality.
We put lots of love into every cast piece to ensure it goes from a diamond in the rough to a polished work of art.
To reproduce the original carved piece, a rubber mold was made. It was then injected with molten wax. After the wax has solidified, it can be easily removed from the mold and used to cast the piece in metal. This mold can be used hundreds or thousands of times over, so we have the ability to produce one or many wax replicas at a time.
Although fresh metal castings are fascinating, they are not quite jewelry quality. Each one has a little stump called a sprue where the molten metal flowed into the shape. Additionally, every casting will have some mold lines and a slightly rough texture due to the cooling and solidification of the molten metal.
We cut off the sprue with a saw and reshape where it once attached.
This variety of files, sandpaper, and buffs help us reach different areas on the piece that we need refining.
We use these tools in a sequence from coarse to fine to gradually refine the surface of the metal, achieving a smooth finish.
The piece is ready for gemstones! This luminous bar pendant will receive five diamonds scattered on the surface where the drilled holes are.
For further refinement, the pendant is placed in a tumbler with steel shot media, along with water and dish soap lubricant. As the tumbler rotates, the steel shot media burnishes and polishes the surface of the pendant. The result is a shiny finish on the high parts, while texture is left in the grooves.
We attach the chain and clasp and now the necklace is ready to be worn!