Since ancient times, jewelers have been creating rings and other pieces of jewelry by pouring molten metal into molds. What methods did they use? Have any new methods have come along? It’s a fascinating subject that you should understand if you invest in precious metals. In today’s post, we’ll take a closer look.
Ancient Casting Method: The Lost Wax Method
In the lost wax method, the jeweler shapes a piece of wax into an exact replica of the piece of jewelry that he or she wants to create – a ring, a brooch, whatever. That piece of wax is packed into sand (or a similar powder made of material with a very high melting point). The jeweler then creates a small channel that runs from the edge of the mold to the wax model, then pours molten metal into it. And here’s the magical and brilliant part of the process . . . the liquid metal melts away the wax and replaces it. Then the sand is washed away and the jeweler discovers a new item of jewelry that has taken on the exact shape of the wax model.
Here’s a video that shows how a modern jeweler uses this method to make gold rings:
This technique has been used by great goldsmiths through the ages. It was used by an Italian named Benvenuto Cellini (1500-1571), one of the most famous jewelers in history, and it is still used today.
Ancient Casting Method: Sand Casting
Sand casting, which is similar to lost wax casting, has also been used since ancient times. It offers a brilliant way to reproduce any kind of item – coins, seashells, anything – in gold or silver. How does it work? As you will see in this video, a jeweler creates a two-part sand mold that has a cavity that replicates the item that he or she wants to reproduce:
In this video, this jeweler also creates a number of small channels that run out from the ring he is modeling; they create areas for excess metal to flow into, which helps assure that the ring-shaped cavity is filled completely when molten metal is poured in. (The jeweler will trim off those extra pieces later on and return them to the melting crucible.)
A New Wrinkle: 3-D Printer Polymer Casting
Because jewelry makers thrive on innovation, it was only a matter of time until they found a way to apply 3-D printing methods to create of beautiful jewelry items. And they already have. This video shows how Golden Century Casting, a modern jewelry manufacturer, uses a computer to create jewelry designs that are then printed out using a 3-D printer and then used to create jewelry using a variation of the ancient lost wax method that uses modern polymers. Fascinating!
A Valuable Leftover from All Three Methods: Karat Gold Scrap
The castings that are produced by these methods are not perfect and ready to sell, because they still require hand polishing, hand working of decorations, and the fitting of diamonds into that gold jewelry. As a result, small bits and pieces of gold or silver can be left behind when all three of those methods are used. This is the kind of valuable stuff that usually falls under the category of “Karat Gold Scrap” or “Karat Gold Jewelry Scrap.”
If you invest in gold or silver, how can you find those pieces and cash in? If you ever have the opportunity to acquire a jewelry factory and liquidate its holding, small quantities of gold (or silver or other metals) could be hiding under floorboards, under machines and in other places.
If you acquire an old site or business that made jewelry, give us a call at 800-426-2344. We’ll be happy to explain where to look. There is no point in allowing even small quantities of precious metals to slip away undetected.
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