Mass-Producted vs Handmade Jewellery
Of late, we have had some confusion as to what can be expected of handmade jeweller vs mass-produced casted Jewellery so we thought it was about time we touched on this.
Let's start with Casting:
Major jewellery stores mainly sell mass-produced cast products, largely from India and China. Cast production includes:
1.hand carving a design in wax, casting it and polishing. It is obviously not handmade.
2. Buying cast components and soldering them together.
3. Designing a ring using CAD (Computer-Aided Design program), printing a wax ring from that design, and casting it.
A model is made in wax, a mould is then made and molten gold is poured into the mould. Upon cooling, the mould is broken open and you have gold in the shape of a ring. It is then sanded back and polished. However, since it is all in one finished piece, areas that are indented prove difficult to reach, leading to a poor quality final polish in those parts.
The downside to casting is the gold is softer and lighter because it has been heated to a liquid state, cooled quickly and not hammered. Also, it may have bubbles – tiny holes in the surface or just under the surface – known as porosity. This softer gold does not hold a good polish and scratches far more easily than a quality handmade product. With time, cast rings start to lose their crisp shape and wear badly, thinning on the underside of the ring.
Hand made jewellery is made by jewellers using rolling mills, hammers, files and heat – all traditional craftsman’s techniques. The rolling and hammering cause the gold to become denser, stronger and therefore more durable. It holds a better polish, lasts longer and resists bending or losing shape.
As with everything that is hand made, there may be evidence of its handmade crafting, solder joins, tiny burrs, these are just a few, they were made with human hands and eyes after all.
The last stage of creating handmade jewellery is the final polishing. Though all pieces of the ring are given a perfect finish and are highly polished before being soldered together, the complete ring gets a final high-quality polish once all pieces of the ring are together.
If you desire the highest quality ring, a handmade, high-quality Palladium-rich, nickel-free gold ring is the only way to go. Palladium rich 18ct white gold is purer, whiter and causes no allergic reactions. Nickel is often included in cast items and may cause skin irritations.
So what are the Pros and Con's to mass-produced cast products?
- You can often see a three dimensional model of the piece you are having made in wax, unlike when a piece is fully hand-made.
- If a piece is being made using 3D printing, you will be able to see a 3D render of your design, which is usually more realistic than a hand-drawn sketch. You can see it from all angles.
- Casting the whole piece, or even just using cast components such as settings, is cheaper than producing the whole piece by hand as it is less time-consuming. This can mean you have more budget to spend on perhaps a more expensive metal or larger, higher quality or a larger number of stones.
- The piece you end up with will be exactly the same as the design you have seen as a model or rendered image as casting produces the same piece every time, unlike hand-making.
- It is often easier (and quicker, therefore less costly) to cast an intricate design. It is also a good method to produce a fitted wedding ring to sit nicely alongside an engagement ring.
- There is a small risk of porosity within castings – this means there may be small air holes within the metal, which particularly when in the claws of settings, can cause weakness and potential breakage. Casting techniques have improved greatly over recent years so this shouldn’t be an issue but is something to be aware of as a potential risk.
- If you’re after a one-off, completely unique piece, casting usually means the piece or component is not unique. This is not always the case, but it is worth checking with your jewellery designer how they are going to make your piece and whether it will be a true one-of-a-kind piece.
- If the piece is cast in one piece, the piece of jewellery can only be made from one metal, meaning a mixed metal design is not possible. That is unless the piece is made from separate cast components, for example, a yellow gold cast setting which a goldsmith could then solder into a white gold ring shank
When a jeweller produces a cast piece of jewellery, they start by a model of it in another material. When making a piece from scratch by hand, they will work in metal from the very beginning.
- to most people is that the piece of jewellery is truly unique. A lot of people will enjoy knowing a skilled goldsmith has created a piece from scratch. It may have small ‘imperfections’ but this is part of its charm.
- Handmade jewellery is inherently stronger. Working the metal by hand hardens it, making for a stronger end product.
- You can easily have a mix of metals within one design because it is put together by hand.
- it is easier to make small changes to design while it is in production than with a cast piece.
- It can be quicker to make a piece by hand as often fewer people and processes are involved.
- Handmade jewellery tends to cost more as there are more complex processes involved.
- You won’t see a 3D model of your design before the piece is made, so you will have to rely on your designer’s sketches and descriptions to envision the final piece.
The same goes for your resin stones, they are also handmade and will at times show evidence of this, like most DNA companies, an imperfection under 2mm of size is considered acceptable and is classed as evidence of handmade, this includes air bubbles which resin is prone to and sometimes even with years of experience just can't be helped.
Handmade vs Cast Jewellery, https://www.jodiegearing.com/handmade-vs-cast-jewellery/.