If you’re a first-time jewelry designer trying to navigate the jewelry world, it’s important to understand the manufacturing process.
Having this essential knowledge will help you communicate successfully with your job coordinator, which will allow the production process to proceed efficiently. This knowledge is especially important if you’re going to be working with multiple companies rather than one studio from start to finish. Finally, it will better help you understand how the associated costs of jewelry manufacturing are itemized, so you can be as informed as possible when you get that invoice!
Designing a 3D Jewelry Model
After the initial idea and/or sketch is developed, it’s time to start work on the digital model. Using CAD (Computer Aided Design) software, the 3d designer will make a digital render of your jewelry. Depending on the complexity of the project and how busy the studio or artist is, this can take anywhere from a day to a week.
While this step is great for you to see your jewelry before committing to full production, keep in mind the 3d model is made for functionality first, not aesthetics, so it might not look as pretty as your finished piece! That being said, you can always request a more detailed render.
Check out our blog on the subject to learn more about CAD models.
3D Wax Printing Your Jewelry
That 3d model from the last step wasn’t only for you to see a sample ahead of time; it also serves as the basis for the next step, the wax model. In most modern jewelry production, the manufacturer uses a 3d printing machine to print a wax model made out of resin, which usually doesn’t take more than 48 hours.
Casting the Wax Model into Metal
In the next step, the jewelry goes through the casting process.. At this stage, your piece starts looking more like the jewelry you might see in a store. The wax is melted away and is replaced with your metal of choice in molten form, usually gold, silver, or platinum. The metal then dries into the shape on your jewelry. This technique is called “lost wax” casting.
Basic Jewelry Assembly
After your jewelry passes through the design and casting stage, the final fabrication can take anywhere from 3 days to 3 weeks. At this point the jeweler refines the main structure of your ring, necklace or other piece. The jeweler files down the casting skin to reveal the metal underneath. Although casting transformed the jewelry into fine metal, the jeweler needs to make any aesthetic adjustments, as well as make sure the piece can functionally support gemstones.
After the mount is completed, the jewelry is ready for stone setting. If the piece requires enameling work or additional design, this would take place before setting.
The Stone Setting Process
For this step, the diamond setter finally adds the diamonds or other gemstones onto your piece. He carefully sets the central stone into the mount. If side stones are involved, the setter needs to hand drill for these before setting. Using a microscope, they then set each separate stone.
Polishing, Finishing, and Quality Assurance
In the final stage, a polisher works to make sure the metal is polished to perfection so it’s as shiny as possible. Any final additions such as engravings are also applied. Finally, the jewelry is inspected and each detail is analyzed to make sure production was successful.
Now that you know the basic jewelry manufacturing process, you’ll be in a much better position when working with your chosen studio or production companies, especially if you're starting your own jewelry business. If you have any questions about any stage of jewelry manufacturing, from design to finishing, feel free to send us an email!
By Peter Vey on 10/26/2018