The World's Most Useful
Gem & Jewelry Monthly Newsletter
Written by Carolyn Doyle for customers of
The Dorado Company
and other visitors to the azgem.com website who subscribe.
Share this newsletter with friends and co-workers by printing or forwarding it to them in its entirety.
Sign up for a free subscription to the AZGem Gems monthly newsletter.
Usable Gems... and a little opinion.
Wax carving, or jewelry model
making, is probably the most used method of designing and executing a jewelry
There are multiple ways to design
and make a piece of jewelry.
Some designers fabricate a piece
from pre-made metal components called findings.
Others may fabricate their pieces
from gold or other metal wire and sheet stock.
Some make sand cast jewelry by
creating a negative image in sand and then pouring molten metal into the
depression. Indian silver bracelets are a popular example of this method.
What is to be made often dictates
the method used.
Most rings, and many other jewelry pieces are made by
creating a model of the design
from wax and then casting it in metal. The process is called "lost wax
One thing to keep in mind throughout
our discussion today, the wax model that is so carefully created is made to be lost...
that is to say - melted, destroyed.
In this month's newsletter I'll
discuss this method of designing a ring. Next month we'll go over the process of
turning that bit of wax into a gold ring.
As with other arts, jewelry model making
has its own terms, specialized tools, and materials.
Model Maker's Terms
- Build up - The process of adding wax to
create a model
- Carving - The process of removing wax to
create a model
- Casting - Injecting molten gold or other
metal into a cavity
- Fabrication - The process of forming a
model from wax components
- Investment - A non-flammable gypsum-like material that
makes a slurry when mixed with water
- Sprue - A wax tube that creates the path
the molten metal will follow
- Wax - The model medium
- Wire - Wax in a long, thin shape
Model Maker's Tools
Model maker's tools range from a simple
nail-in-a-wooden dowel to tiny milling machines.
Common shaping tools include knives, saws,
files, and dental tools.
Tiny milling machines, lathes, and table
saws that are powered by a flex shaft machine are on the market.
Various tools to melt wax are
also important to the modeler. Alcohol burners, kilns, extruders (picture
a hot glue gun), and even candles are used for a variety of tasks.
The most important design
tools the modeler employs are the sketch pad and pencil.
The piece is conceived in the
imagination and tested on paper before picking up the wax.
Model Maker's Materials
Blue wax, pink wax, and more
wax is the primary material modelers employ.
Wax comes in a large variety of shapes and
sizes. There are blocks of wax, sheets, tubes, wires, and pellets.
Waxes are engineered and manufactured with
specific attributes. Some are softer, some harder, and some in between.
Some are sticky, and used to adhere wax
components together. Some carving waxes are designed to not stick to
Some are made to be shaped by spatula and
fingers. Others can be sawed, filed, and carved without chipping.
Some waxes have higher or lower melting
points. Manufacturers color code their waxes by these attributes.
Here's a couple of links to
tool and supply catalogs for you to see some examples. Alpha
Supply Tools Wax
Wax in the shape of wire comes in several
diameters. This wax is flexible and can be bent and shaped. It's handy for
making prongs and galleries among other uses.
Whether purchased or extruded from a
modeler's wax gun, wax wire seems to lend itself best to the fabrication
method of modeling.
Wax in tubes come round or flat on one
side. It's used to carve rings.
The actual creation of the wax model is
both an art and an acquired skill.
The carving method can be compared to a
sculptor carving a statue in marble. The old saying here is that you
remove everything that doesn't look like the statue or piece of jewelry
The build up method can be compared to a
sculptor using clay. You add and shape the clay (or wax) to get the
The fabrication method can be compared to a
craftsman building a piece of furniture from sheets and sticks of wood.
The pieces are sawed, shaped, drilled and fastened together to make the desired
Sometimes nature provides the model... and not in wax. The
lost wax casting process is also used in dentistry.
It seems to be a tradition that dental school students make a
casting of a honey bee in dental gold.
No matter which method is used to create
the model, the next steps are to prepare it for casting.
A wax tube or wire called a sprue is
adhered to the model. The other end of the sprue is attached to a funnel
The model is suspended in a can-like
container and the investment slurry is carefully poured in.
The invested model is placed in a kiln and
super heated to burn out the wax. This destroys the wax, but (if all goes
well) leaves an exact negative image inside the investment.
If all doesn't go well, the modeler must
pick up a new piece of wax and start over from the sketch!
Now I hope you can imagine the talent,
training, skill and effort that goes into creating the wax model that must
be destroyed in the next step of the process.
Next month we'll talk about how the
model is transformed into a beautiful piece of jewelry.
The jewelry dealer's program is rolling right along.
New people are joining every several days. More than a few have expressed
amazement at the amount of information and practical guidance in the New Jewelry
Dealer's Resource information each new dealer receives.
is a great time to join the program and jump start your new jewelry
business. The holidays are coming soon!
Check out the new traffic
building feature we're experimenting with. You can buy featured gems at
or below our cost.
All you dealers... these featured gems are a great buy. You can increase your
profits even more with these gems.
To unsubscribe, send an e-mail to email@example.com and let me know you want to be taken off the mailing list. Be sure to give your e-mail address.
AZGem.com is the Web presence of:
The Dorado Company
P.O. Box 8232
Scottsdale, AZ 85252-8232