What is handcarving, and how does it make jewellery look more organic or rustic?
Always making jewellery and filling orders for customers, I am busy at the jewellery bench day in and out. I was trained to make jewellery by hand, and love working in metal that has cast from a wax model. Carving by hand in wax allows me to create more rustic looking, organic, textured effects. Carving can be done for simple precise designs or in a sculptural manner where creative freedom is needed and wax can be melted, added, subtracted to a piece. These designs are usually unique, one-of-a-kind, one-time-use only models to be cast into gold using the lost wax casting method. If you are interested in a design and not sure what method will achieve the look you want, just ask. Chances are if you like rustic, organic, hammer textures or seeing tool marks in your rings, or want to utilize asymmetrical or roughly shaped stones, a hand-carved piece is for you.
Classic wedding bands are something I can make by carving a model out of wax by hand and then casting it into gold. Wax carvings are often blue/green/purple in colour and require a certain trust in my process and expertise as a jeweller to visualize the finished product.
What is enamel?
Vitreous enamel is a powdered glass, applied in several layers and fused to a metal surface in a high temperature environment. Some use a torch, I use an electric furnace which fires at approximately 1500 °F or 800 °C. There are many techniques used to build up enchanting colours, or reveal the metal surfaces below. Believed by some historians to be an ancient alternative to gemstones in jewellery and ornaments, glass has been used for thousands of years to apply rich colour to metal. A difficult technique to master, it is seldom used in modern production jewellery because of its fragility and time consuming processes.
Every enamelled piece of jewellery is unique. Like small sculptures, every piece I craft is made with hand formed copper, silver, or gold sheet metal, encased in traditional vitreous glass enamel. I love using enamel on gold rings with diamonds to give them a modernized art deco feel.
What is CAD?
CAD is an acronym for the term Computer Aided Design. To create the majority of our bespoke rings, computer software is used to build to scale virtual models of jewelry that will be used for production. The 3D models are sent to a 3D printer, which slowly prints a castable wax. This wax can be used to create gold jewellery with the lost wax casting method, just like a hand-carved wax model can be used to cast. The CAD modelling to printing process, is a time consuming and scientific process, we use a third party professional for this service whom we love and trust with our bespoke creations. We usually make sure that you have approved a 2 dimensional drawing or layout prior to beginning the task of modeling the finished product, but show you the models along the way so you are involved in the process and know what to expect your finished piece to look like.
What materials do we use?
We work in gold of all colours and different purities. Gold alloys we work with are 10k, 14k, 18k in white, yellow and rose gold. 14K is the most common and very durable alloy for engagement rings. Occasionally for aesthetic reasons clients prefer 10K rose gold for it’s extremely pink colour, or 18K yellow for it’s rich yellow tone. We typically opt to rhodium plate our white gold to give it a bright white colour, as white gold naturally has a slightly off white hue. This is a micro-thin layer of rhodium which may show wear over time and need to be re-applied. It’s not necessary for white gold to be rhodium plated, but many people like the look it gives to white gold and diamond jewellery. It also may help prevent skin allergies to nickel, a component of the white gold alloy.
Platinum is the whitest of metals and is a much denser heavier metal. It is very durable, however accumulates surface level scratches more easily than gold, giving it a burnished or slightly cloudy look, within even weeks of wearing it. Before the invention of white gold in the 1920s, all white precious metal rings were made in platinum. It is so durable and doesn’t chip or flake away at a microscopic level the way gold does. This is why we see so many vintage platinum rings in very good condition with little wear on prongs or delicate parts of the ring.
We use silver in our ready to wear collections, wedding bands, and occasionally in bespoke jewellery. Silver is a white metal that is really popular for our wedding bands. Although it is a white metal, it can tarnish when exposed to oxygen in the air giving it a brownish hue. This can be cleaned or polished off. Silver is a softer metal, which lends well to rustic looking jewellery. Much like the look of platinum, it will show tiny scratches and marks quickly. It can sometimes be too soft to make delicate parts for custom engagement rings with tiny diamond settings, so we usually recommend gold or platinum for custom engagement rings.