We have over 1000 designs by now. There are gemstones pieces, for which we do bezel setting by hand, there are beaded bracelets and necklaces which we assemble with parts and findings, and there are wire wrapped crystals and semi-precious stones. Most of our simple studs are made with a method called lost wax casting, which involves making a master cast with which dozens of identical jewellery are made.
I have chosen four of our best selling earring studs to demonstrate how we do lost wax casting - mouse and cheese earrings, Bumble bee earrings, Dinosaur earrings and Unicorn earrings.
It all begins with an idea, I use a drawing tablet, though some artists prefer to use pen and paper and some artists skip this step all the together which will be explained later. You can see in the following picture the initial model for mouse and cheese studs look nothing like the final product! After a few rounds of doodling - correcting -doodling, the eventual earrings are rather satisfactory and these earrings have been one of our best selling studs!
The mouse and cheese earrings are 2D and sometimes a thick silver sheet can be used to cut-out these shapes and earring posts are attached on them, this is especially useful when we want to test out a piece of jewellery we are not too confident about, before going ahead and make a jewellery cast for small scale production. Let me show you a more 3D design, our bumble bee earrings.
3D CAD information is used to create a wax model, this can be done both by hand and also 3D printed. The wax is of medium softness, some artists with good sculpting skills skip the drawing part and start on the wax straightaway! We then make a master cast with either silicone or rubber.
Above is a perfect negative for the bumble bee stud earrings The rubber is a perfect negative of the original.
With the master cast, we can make many copies of the wax model, we then plant the wax structures onto a tree.
Then a ceramic shell is constructed around the tree assembly this is called investment. Wax is then removed from the shell and molten metal, either sterling silver or brass is poured into the shell which is broken once the metal cools down. The parts are cut down and the metals are recycled.
After that there's a series of finishing touch including electroplating, polishing, gem setting and enamel plating. For earrings, the earring posts need soldering onto the studs and we get our final products!
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