From design to realisation
What are the steps involved in creating a piece of jewellery?
The design of a jewellery model requires going through different steps listed below:
The majority of jewellery is first of all designed by a designer according to his or her inspiration. This design can also (and increasingly) be done on a computer.
The Wax Model
Once the drawing is completed, a model maker interprets it in 3 dimensions, i.e. he sculpts it on wax in accordance with technical requirements. At this stage too, the computer can create a 3D vision of the jewel that will be used to create it.
The lost wax casting
The previously made wax is then entrusted to a foundryman. It is placed among other wax models on a casting tree also called wax tree. This is then cast in a special plaster in which the smelter injects molten metal under high pressure. The high temperature and pressure melts the wax that flows through a hole left at the bottom of the mould and the metal replaces the wax to form the skeleton of the jewellery.
It is then necessary to allow the plaster mould to cool before breaking it to recover the rough jewellery pieces. These, still attached to the casting shaft, are then cut and reworked in the workshop to improve the finish.
After the previous step, the jeweller obtains a metal model, often in silver, which is again entrusted to the foundryman for final casting. This mould, made of rubber, allows to draw as many waxes as desired in order to automate the production.
The wax prints from the previous step are then again placed on a casting tree and plastered for an investment casting. On the other hand, the metal used is that desired for the final piece of jewellery (i.e. gold for Bäumer Vendôme).
The resulting print, called cast iron, is reworked in the workshop. The jewels are cut from the tree, smoothed and massaged to remove imperfections. In addition, as far as the rings are concerned and in case the ordered finger turn is not the same as the one of the print, it must be modified.
The jewels are then polished to finish smoothing them and making them shiny.
If the jewellery is to include stones, all of the previous steps relate to the skeleton of the jewellery (also called the setting, which is the metal part of the jewellery).
The setter must then fix the stones on the frame according to the type of setting desired (clawed, closed, half closed, grain …).
For white gold jewellery, a rhodium plating is added to make the jewellery shiny.
Finally, a final polishing is carried out to perfectly shine the metal and give the jewel its full brilliance.
All jewellery weighing more than 3 grams must be hallmarked, i.e. they must receive two hallmarks: that of the Master (i.e. from the workshop) and that of the State (which guarantees the titration of the metals, i.e. 375 for 9K gold and 750 for 18K gold).