How Jewelry is made NOW vs 10 years ago . . .

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WTFarmGirl
Posts: 129
Joined: 8 months ago

How Jewelry is made NOW vs 10 years ago . . .

Post by WTFarmGirl » 6 months ago

Today's topic for anyone who really didn't care to know (I definitely didn't, haha), is how jewelry is made NOW.

Actually I started this because it's quite interesting and really most if not all of the hosts have no idea (I keep hearing references to "how expensive it is to make this" which couldn't be further from the truth).

In the "old days" you would draw a design or tell a jeweler what you'd like and they'd sit down and draw you up a picture (my local jeweler still does this). You'd discuss stone sizes and metal types.

Next, they'd CARVE you the design into wax, carefully making every detail. One mess-up and POOF, you'd have to start over. And the wax isn't cheap. If small side stones like diamonds are needed, they press them into the wax design (everything but the larger stones set with full prongs or bezel). After that, they pour a casting material called "investment" around the wax to make a mold of it. The the gold or silver is poured into that mold. The wax is melted out and the gold or silver grabs hold of the side stones, locking them in. This also involves a lot of "wasted" gold/silver as the items always have a hole and stem to follow down to the actual design. This stem has to be cut off and the whole item polished. The stem is later cooked back down and recycled for another casting run.

Then the main stones are added by hand. The prongs are usually VERY long, and carefully tailored and cut down to size then bent over and cut to final size. Then a final polish and it's done.

The other way it was/is done, is a jeweler has you look through a book of "pre-made" items. It's a "build your own mount" sort of scenario where different pieces are already pre-made by a large company and you choose what you want on your ring. The jeweler can then either have the company assemble it, or just have the items mailed to him for assembly. Used to be done with soldering tools, now done with special lasers. These items come with diamonds already in them, making for a quick process.

But the NEW WAY, is a bit different.

Now, everything is HIGH TECH. Items are designed on the computer with pricey design programs that have a substantial learning curve, jewelers charge $200 or more for a custom design, custom meaning anything non-standard they already carry.

They have special 3D scanning cameras that scan your gemstone to be mounted, to ensure a perfect fit (these are over $10,000), once everything is designed to your liking, it's sent to one of TWO types of printers:
WAX or Metal
Wax printers are 3D printers that print your item in, wax resin. Instead of carving it, the machine 3D prints it, allowing you to easily change it, or make many copies of it. This special wax is then cast just like the carved versions.

However, NOW (just recently) for a mere $50,000, you can BUY a 3D printer that prints in ANY METAL. The technology is still in development stages, but it's a significant advancement.

But what about faceting? isn't that a difficult art form?

Again, you'll hear hosts gloat about how "difficult something is", but they have no idea what they are talking about.

MOST faceting machines are quite high tech and do all the work for you, gem cutters are not free hand faceting stones.

There are NOW faceting programs on the market, that allow you to take a standard facet, and "modify it" any which way you please. You can see in the program how it would look on your stone and THEN decide if you want to do it. You then program the parameters into your faceting machine, and it goes to work FACETING IT FOR YOU. According to GIA, there are hundreds of "new" facet designs each day. And it's literally impossible to trademark or "copywrite" them (like SLC claims with the Portuguese cut or the asschur cut).

So while there ARE still small ma and pa shops that might cut by hand and eye, MOST places are taking advantage of advancing technology to streamline their work. And yes, it's still considered "hand cut" as you are still operating the controls somewhat ;)

So let's do a cost breakdown for those of you who, like me, are trying to get into all this:
CAD program for design: $1,000
Gem Scanner: $10,000-$30,000
3D printer for wax: $300-$30,000
Decent computer to run everything: $1500-$2500

If you don't want to cast your items yourself (or like me you already take on too many new skills), you can send your completed wax forms to various casting companies. They can cast them in a wide variety of metals (some you've never SEEN before!). Some will even polish the setting and mount your stones for you, others only will cast.

I don't know that a gem scanner is a "MUST HAVE" item, but certainly if the gem is a custom shape it might make designing your setting far easier!

And while it seems like one art form is slowly dying, another is taking it's place (although you might argue it requires less talent).


And in regards to COST, these programs can TELL YOU how much material will be used and ALLOW YOU to thin it down and save $$$. There's now no such thing as saying one design is "harder to make" than another. They all print and cast exactly the same way. And those small stones are cast into place. I cannot speak on setting 50 stones into prongs, but I'd dare to guess they have some sort of machine to handle that too. But in regards to metalwork, all designs are pretty much equal with labor.
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colljoe
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Re: How Jewelry is made NOW vs 10 years ago . . .

Post by colljoe » 6 months ago

Wow! Awesome info. Thank you for this. Very interesting.
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WTFarmGirl
Posts: 129
Joined: 8 months ago

Re: How Jewelry is made NOW vs 10 years ago . . .

Post by WTFarmGirl » 6 months ago

Also for anyone looking to "take the plunge" Anycubic has their Photon Mono M5s on sale on their website for $399 with promo code. It's a top of the line "hobby" line printer, but Elegoo makes some nice ones too that are a bit smaller and cheaper.

I finally took the plunge and ordered up my 3D printer (it JUST went on sale an hour ago) . . .I guess it's becoming official :lol: :lol:

So you have been wondering what to do with all those loose SLC gemstones? here's your answer!
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TerryTalk
Posts: 111
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Re: How Jewelry is made NOW vs 10 years ago . . .

Post by TerryTalk » 6 months ago

Well I have had a few of my loose gemstones set by two local jewelers/artists in 14K and 18K gold and I have been thrilled with their final products! Of course, I met with some jewelers and researched various prices and the jewelers themselves. The pieces weren’t inexpensive, yet they were reasonably priced and it was really fun to be involved with the designs and give final approval for the creations! If I was really wealthy I would choose to go this route probably all the time 😂👍. I like being involved in the actual design input, but I don’t want to actually make the piece myself! As I said, there are small jewelers out there that are reasonably priced and definitely do masterful work and creations—-you have to do your research and choose carefully! BTW: I REALLY like supporting small local artists (and shops!) when I can and the owners and artists/jewelers are extremely grateful for their customers and the referrals! 👍😁
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WTFarmGirl
Posts: 129
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Re: How Jewelry is made NOW vs 10 years ago . . .

Post by WTFarmGirl » 6 months ago

@TerryTalk Did they mention how they do their casting? I know some places out here cast their own (our local guy) but others send it out. Personally I'd prefer to do it all, but there's only so much time in the day ;)

We took our tanzanite to a slightly larger local jeweler, and they wanted $8,000 to set our own stone in 14k gold with 2mm diamond halo :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: Which was crazy because the high end jeweler quoted $5,000 to set it in platinum!

Not sure what they were on, but the actual out-the-door cost to make that exact ring would be closer to $1500 in materials (if buying the catalogue parts and assembling) and maybe $200 in labor. Less than that if modeling and casting directly :roll: :roll: :roll:

I think they just were trying to scare us away . . . tanzanites are easy to shatter (perfect cleavage) so many places won't touch them.

Hopefully yours was much more reasonable!

**Our local jewelers are VERY well supported by the community thankfully! They are TOO busy and it can be difficult to get any work done :(

But I agree, I love the small town feel and chatting away and not feeling like I'm wasting their time by being there ;)
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Spinoza
Posts: 261
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Re: How Jewelry is made NOW vs 10 years ago . . .

Post by Spinoza » 6 months ago

Great informative post, WTFarmGirl! Thank you! 😁👍

(FWIW, I try to support local businesses as much as possible, even if they take a little longer to get things done. Big companies are fine most times but there’s such a nice personal touch when you deal with local shops and help keep your community going strong as well! 😁👍✌️)
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TerryTalk
Posts: 111
Joined: 4 years ago

Re: How Jewelry is made NOW vs 10 years ago . . .

Post by TerryTalk » 6 months ago

WTFarmgirl the two different jewelers did their own castings. I had one loose tanzanite set in 18K gold and he did a beautiful job and I am over the moon 🌝 about how well we worked together on the design and how well it turned out! He didn’t charge anything close to what you were quoted—-the other few designs that I have had done and helped to design were with other gemstones that I have purchased over the years. I haven’t used most of my loose gemstones in jewelry creations. One, I can’t afford to do that with the tons of gemstones that I have purchased over many years 😂 and two some I will probably always keep as loose stones! I have had rings and a pair of earrings and two pendants created from my gemstones. I am saving up and thinking about a bracelet design and possibly a similar matching (not too matching, but similar) ring in 2024! I truly LOVE thinking of the design(s) I want and I sketch out what I am thinking about and take that and talk and work with one or two of the jewelers that I mentioned! My sketches aren’t artist quality, but they denote what I want and what I am thinking about having done. Sometimes my design is tweaked and a couple of times we have gone with what I have designed. The whole process has been really fun and very interesting for me! Thanks 🙏 for listening!
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WTFarmGirl
Posts: 129
Joined: 8 months ago

Re: How Jewelry is made NOW vs 10 years ago . . .

Post by WTFarmGirl » 6 months ago

TerryTalk wrote:
6 months ago
WTFarmgirl the two different jewelers did their own castings. I had one loose tanzanite set in 18K gold and he did a beautiful job and I am over the moon 🌝 about how well we worked together on the design and how well it turned out! He didn’t charge anything close to what you were quoted—-the other few designs that I have had done and helped to design were with other gemstones that I have purchased over the years. I haven’t used most of my loose gemstones in jewelry creations. One, I can’t afford to do that with the tons of gemstones that I have purchased over many years 😂 and two some I will probably always keep as loose stones! I have had rings and a pair of earrings and two pendants created from my gemstones. I am saving up and thinking about a bracelet design and possibly a similar matching (not too matching, but similar) ring in 2024! I truly LOVE thinking of the design(s) I want and I sketch out what I am thinking about and take that and talk and work with one or two of the jewelers that I mentioned! My sketches aren’t artist quality, but they denote what I want and what I am thinking about having done. Sometimes my design is tweaked and a couple of times we have gone with what I have designed. The whole process has been really fun and very interesting for me! Thanks 🙏 for listening!
Oooooo, what type of setting did you pick? I think I want some sort of unique halo around mine, with it slightly raised up, but not too much so it's not at risk of hits that could break it.

My hubs just bought me a rare, padparacha 11.7ct tourmaline yesterday! I had seen it on auction sitting there for YEARS and dreamed of getting it when I reached certain career milestones. But then suddenly a lady bid it over reserve and I was about to lose my dream stone forever, but my husband was kind and bid it to winning for my "possible" Christmas present. I have thousands of gemstones for mounting, but none this quality (except the tanzanite!). I know I'll set it into a ring, possible rose gold, but that's about it! It's "round" and brilliant cut, with a sunset array of pinks, yellows and oranges flashing in all directions. I honestly never dreamed I'd own it. I don't buy gems for myself unless I get a heck of a deal, haha!

What is your favorite loose stone you own?

You know, you should look into designing stuff on the computer. If you really enjoy it, you could become quite skilled at it and maybe the local jewelers use you as a resource for design work :) Look into the program called "Blender", it's a 3D program and I think free to download. "Rhino" is the big program most places use, they DO have a free 90 day download period so you COULD play with it a bit (and LOTS of good videos on YouTube plus a help forum on their website for tips and tricks). Heck, tell the hubby you want a 3D resin printer for Christmas, and get rocking those designs! If you design and print your work, you'll save a heck of a lot of $$$ and be able to make stuff to sell (just check state laws as some require special licensing to sell gold or silver).
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WTFarmGirl
Posts: 129
Joined: 8 months ago

Re: How Jewelry is made NOW vs 10 years ago . . .

Post by WTFarmGirl » 6 months ago

Spinoza wrote:
6 months ago
Great informative post, WTFarmGirl! Thank you! 😁👍

(FWIW, I try to support local businesses as much as possible, even if they take a little longer to get things done. Big companies are fine most times but there’s such a nice personal touch when you deal with local shops and help keep your community going strong as well! 😁👍✌️)
I agree Spinoza! I love supporting local whenever I can :D
4 x

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