The 'Joy' Pendant and Earrings are the final pieces in the 'Sentimental Collection' and they are now in the shop. For those not familiar with the process of making jewellery, I thought I would run through the various stages of creating these pieces. If you are anything like me, you may enjoy a peek behind the scenes of a jeweler at work.
Initially, there were several designs sketched in my sketchbook as I slowly built on my ideas for a doily inspired collection featuring drilled and punched details. I developed a set of stacking rings, a pendant and necklace, a pair of hoops, and of course the 'Joy' pendant and earrings.
The next step is to start realising these drawings in metal. This means sketching out the designs on sheets of metal and saw them out, filing and shaping them, and then in this case, drilling and punching them. Because I planned on making more than once of each piece, and in order to keep each piece identical and lower production costs, I made 'Masters' for each piece from copper. These masters were then sent away to be professionally moulded and cast in Sterling Silver and 9ct Rose Gold, before being returned to be hand finished.
This is how the castings return. They have the remains of the sprues on them, where the metal was poured in to the moulds, and a slightly rough textured finish. The next step is to saw and file off the sprues, emery (jewellers sandpaper) the surfaces and hand make the findings necessary to complete each piece - such as the ear wires and jump rings. These fittings are then soldered on and the entire piece is polished - first using a goats hair polishing wheel with tripoli compound to remove the scratches remaining from the emery, then a cotton polishing mop with rouge compound to create a high shine finish.
You can see the pieces in the middle have had the sprues removed and have been emeried. They have also been stamped 925 on the reverse - which is the standard mark for Sterling Silver and means that the piece is 92.5% pure Silver. They are now ready to have their ear wires, jump rings and pearl posts soldered on.
Wires, posts and bails in place, the Silver pendants and earrings are ready for another touch of emery before being polishing. First though, I check that the pearl posts are the right length and trim them down to size to fit the half drilled round Freshwater Pearls.
Ta-dah! The finished product. Polished, a satin finish applied with a fine emery, and pearls glued in to position on the posts with a two part epoxy.
I hope that gave you some insight in to the process of a piece of cast jewellery from start to finish, and that you enjoyed this peek in to the workshop. I'm more than happy to answer any questions you might have.
If you have ever fancied trying your hand at making your own silver and gold jewellery, there are some great courses out their run through private schools, TAFE's and Universities. For me, nothing beats the satisfaction of designing and creating a piece of jewellery.