A brief description of metalworking techniques

When we say we make our jewelry by hand, we mean it. This is the primary detail that makes our creations unique. Most of the jewelry today is made by machines in places like China or Thailand. Many of the remaining artists have resorted to using computers to draw and cut their designs in wax, from which their pieces are cast. These pieces are easy to spot: you have seen them at vendors’ booths in fairs of all kinds. They are all of even depth, lifeless and look so similar, you would think they were made by the same person. Ah the joys of autonomy, the ability to clunk out identical piece after identical piece. Why, were it not for this situation you would not have the same “elven ring” as the grubby stranger at the fair….and he would not have anything to talk to you about.

There are actually very few artisans that still hand-fabricate their work. The smiths and artisans at House of Dubhrós are proud to be among them. We believe that the more educated a customer is about the composition, construction and meaning of their jewelry, the more likely they are to enjoy it. That is why, along with a description of the jewelry, we also tell you the processes used to make your new heirloom. The following is lists of descriptions to help you better understand these processes.

Fabricate – To make from raw materials; to cut, hammer and shape the metal. Many who claim to hand-make jewelry simply finish machine-cast pieces or slap some components together. We actually work in metal.

Forged – This is where an ingot or blank is drawn out using a hammer and anvil. This gives the piece several unique properties. It work hardens the pieces so much so that even silver will start to take an edge. Thus this process is ideal for letter openers and certain cold created pieces, as heating the metal anneals it once more. In addition, since every blow of the hammer alters the shape of the piece, it will always be unique.

Cast – Casting involves pouring molten metal into a mold. We will rarely cast an entire piece. Usually these methods are used on individual parts of jewelry, where fabrication would not be feasible. We use several casting methods, a few of which are listed below:

Lost Wax - The mainstay of the jewelry industry. A wax form is created by hand, and then set in investment to create a mold that is heated. The wax evaporates, leaving a hollow filled with metal. Each piece is unique because the mold is completely destroyed in the process. Since we did it by hand, rather than machine, that exact mold can never be duplicated.

Garnet Sand – One of the most unique methods; I know of only two other people who use this technique, using pulverized garnet as the basis of the mold. Since bronze, like titanium and platinum, must be cast, most of our small bronze items are created in this manner.

Cuttlebone – One of the oldest techniques, the bone from a cuttlefish is carved and shaped. Then metal is then pored into the depression. The cuttlefish is not endangered, and the bones are a byproduct of food manufacturing.

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