All of our designs are created by our founder right here in our shop. The artistic process begins with the production of a "master" from which all future castings are made. Depending on the design, Pat might choose to sculpt a model in wax (which is then cast in silver), cut it from sheet silver or carve it from a metal blank. Once she is satisfied with her work the master is rubber molded and the piece is now ready for production.
Lost Wax Casting: we use an ancient process called lost wax casting which earliest evidence suggests was first used in the middle east around 3700 BCE. The process has changed little in all that time. We start by filling the cavity in the rubber mold with molten wax. Once this wax has cooled and solidified, it is removed from the mold and allowed to come to room temperature. When enough waxes have been created, a hot knife is used to connect them to a candle (large wax stick known as a sprue). This process is called setup and the end result is a tree of wax models all attached to a large central wax rod.
Investment & Burnout: the tree we just created is then encased in a stainless-steel cylinder called a flask and investment plaster is poured in. This plaster is specially formulated to withstand the pressures and heat of centrifugal casting. Once the plaster has cured overnight, we place it in a burnout kiln that will steadily step the temperature up to 1350°F which melts and burns out all of the wax created in the early part of the process. This creates a negative space into which the metal will later flow and is also where the name lost wax casting is derived.
Casting: casting grain of either sterling silver or 14 karat gold is added to the crucible and heated to melting temperatures (1640°F for sterling and 1615°F for gold). Once at the appropriate temperature, centrifugal force is used to throw the molten metal into the cavity vacated by the wax.
Finishing & Polishing: the cooled pieces are individually inspected for defects and any that did not cast properly are melted again during the next cast. Each piece must now be hand ground and filed to clean up its profile. They are then added into a tumbler for a two-step polishing process that first involves silicon cones and then quartz crystals, leaving the pieces very smooth. Finally, they are added into a rotary tumbler that uses steel shot to further burnish the pieces to a high shine. Your jewelry is now ready to be purchased and worn!
Hand Hammering: any pieces that require hammering go through a slightly different process. Many jewelers will hammer the master so that the hammer marks are cast, meaning the jeweler will only have to hammer one item. The result is subdued hammer work that does not dazzle the way ours does. Our hammer marks are applied after casting, but before the pieces enter a vibratory tumbler. This process leaves crisp hammer marks that really catch the light!
Gold Vermeil/Plating: we partner with W.F. Scott & Co. Inc. for all of our plated items. We have worked with them for over 20 years and the quality of their work will speak for itself when you receive your jewelry. FTC law mandates that all vermeil items be plated with 100 millionths of an inch of 10 karat or purer gold. We use 22 karat gold (91.6% pure) and adhere to the aforementioned regulations to the letter.