Holiday Catalog

how a ring is made

  • How is a Ring Made?

    How is a ring made?

    Most people assume jewelry is made in a factory like a car, computer, or toaster.  They picture an assembly line with ultra modern robots and supervisors making sure the machines are doing all the work as required.  In short, they see modern methods on an ancient industry.  Although technology has made many things possible in jewelry manufacture, it has not replaced the methods of manufacture that have been practiced for generations. So...how is a ring made?

    Design

    The first step, like many others, starts with a concept in someone's head.  Usually it is first expressed as a drawing just like you see in clothing fashion or it is "drawn" in a computer assisted design program (C.A.D for short).  This process creates a basis for the construction of a model that will be directly used to create the actual ring.  The newer C.A.D. programs allow for much more intricate designs than one can get from the hands of a goldsmith, in addition to the fact they can be recreated endlessly.  The drawing relies more on the goldsmith to determine the actual specifications of the ring and make adjustments as needed.  Each way has its own sets of advantages and disadvantages, yet neither is truly "better" than the other.

    Wax model

     

    wax-for-lily-matching-bandThe second step in the creation of a ring is the wax model.  This is also one of the most time consuming parts of the process...even on a C.A.D. program.  In the case of a paper drawing, the goldsmith uses wax carving tools and various types of wax to physically carve the ring.  Depending on the intricacy of the design, cost can range from $150 to as much as $600.  This differs from a C.A.D. ring, where cost is generally around $300.  The obvious question on this one:  Why let the goldsmith do the work?  Goldsmiths allow you the most control over a ring's development, being able to alter it in some cases while you wait.  That being said, C.A.D. does do some things much better than a goldsmith can, Pave being one such example.  When complete, the wax will be an exact replica of the ring to be made.

    Investment

    images4The next step in the process is both simple and complicated.  The amount of metal needed to cast the actual ring is determined.  To do this, the wax is weighed and a multiplier is applied based on the metal being used.  For example:  The wax weighs in at .5 grams and we wish to make it in gold.  We would multiply .5 times 14.4 to come up with 7.2 grams.  (Please note 14.4 is an estimated number. The color of the gold impacts the multiplier).  So the finished ring will weigh approximately 7.2 grams when complete (this is metal only...not to include gems).

    Once we have the weight, the wax is mounted to a rubber conical base and enclosed in a hollow stainless steel tube.  The hollow space is then filled with plaster of paris and put in a vacuum chamber to remove all air from the mold.  This step must be done correctly or the caster runs the risk of the ring failing to form or getting a casting defect known as porosity.  Either way, this is most critical as the next step destroys the wax.  Failure to cast at this point results in going almost back to the beginning of the process.  After the plaster is vacuumed, it is then allowed to set for at least 5 hours...we prefer overnight whenever possible.  Let the anticipation begin!

    Burnout and casting

    This is where all the hard work pays off...or you cry and start over.  After the curing of the plaster, the burnout begins.  Burnout is the removal of the wax in the mold through vaporization.  The rubber mount is removed and the cylinder with the plaster and wax is placed into a kiln.  The temperature is slowly raised over a 3-5 hour period to around 1300 degrees Fahrenheit.  The wax, of course, simply vaporizes from the mold....leaving an impression in the plaster behind.  At the end of the vaporization process, the kiln is brought to a holding casting temperature.  In the case of gold, that temperature is around 900 degrees.  Now you are ready to actually pour the ring!!

    Once the 900 degree temperature is met, the gold for the ring is melted in a crucible to a liquid state.  At this point, the cylinder is removed from the kiln and placed in either a vacuum extractor like we have in our Auburn Day's store or a centrifuge like we have in our South Portland Day's location.  Either way, the liquid gold is injected into the plaster mold and allowed to cool for a short time ( usually when it is no longer red hot).  Now...how to you get the ring out?  Simple: You quench the cylinder in a bucket of water.  This serves two purposes.  First, it shatters the plaster, freeing the ring.  Second, it work hardens the gold to make the ring more resistant to bending and shaping.  If all went well, you now have a new ring!!!  If not, let the crying commence!

    Are we there yet?

    Well, now we have a ring.  Unfortunately, we are far from done.  The ring will require close inspection for defects, final filing and shaping and at least 2 types of polish.  In addition, any stones will be set at this time and final adjustments on the size of the ring will be made.  Usually, the average ring will take around another hour for polish on average and setting will vary from 30 more minutes for a single stone to several hours for multi-stone rings.  Some rings will require assembly at this point as well, as two tone rings are cast in parts and then assembled.

    DONE!!

     

    repair-and-servicesOne last step: Guest final inspection!  This is where the all the hard work really pays off.  There is nothing like seeing the gleam in someone's eye when their idea of the perfect ring comes to life!  Any final adjustments are done at this point, usually while the guest waits.  And then the lifetime of wear begins!!

    So now you know how a ring is made.  I hope you take this and let your creativity out of the box.  The only limit to what you can do is your imagination and a little bit of physics.  I hope to see you with your ideas soon!

    Stop by any of our Day's Jewelers and make an appointment to meet with one of our in house designer, goldsmiths to start putting your creation together.

    About the Blogger:

    mark-poulin2-web20111Mark, Store Manager,
    Auburn Day's Jewelers 

    Originally from Michigan, Mark decided to settle in Maine because of the wonderful quality of life and because it is a beautiful and safe place to raise his children.

    Mark is a very devoted father, he spends a great deal of time playing with his children. His passion is building and flying R/C airplanes. He began the hobby when he was ten-years-old, with his father's assistance. He caught on quickly and to this day, he flies his planes every chance he can. Read more.

     

     

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Day's adheres to an everyday low price policy so you can always shop knowing you’re getting the best price possible from an authorized retailer.