We are so accustomed to having jewelry in our daily lives that we forget how is its manufacturing process, and if we ever think about it the first thing that comes to our mind is the design work, people sitting at their drawing tables full of sketches, pencils, precious stones to inspire them... We seldom stop to think about the manufacturing process of those pieces that we wear and that define us, will it also define us its origin?
When we think about jewelry we imagine a great deployment of media, infrastructure and money, and it is true, most of the big jewelery companies have factories capable of producing thousands of pieces (very different from small artisan jewelry workshops). Its production is done through casting process, that is to say, that a piece is made and from it a mold is made of which they will be able to produce thousands and thousands of units, all exactly the same, and that is the reason why that you can buy jewelry at such good prices: a large production reduces sales prices, the greater the number of pieces, the lower the cost per unit for companies, always concerned to obtain the greatest benefits.
The process consists in the elaboration of wax models from a prototype already manufactured using a rubber mold.
Once the replicas are made in wax, are all assembled together in what is called a "wax tree", and a plaster coating is used as a filler for the cylinders where the trees are placed, which will make it possible to form negative models of each one of the pieces. It is the method of lost wax smelting , the wax melts and leaves a gap so that it can be filled by the metal cast into the cylindrical matrices.
A few years ago the first unit was crafted by an artisan jeweler, but, in recent years, 3D printing is gaining more ground, and now the jewels are designed by computer and sent to 3D printers that manufactures the replicas in wax to be able to later cast them in gold, silver ... skipping even the process of making a mold, there is no hand that comes to touch anything metallic, the errors are corrected with ctrl+ Z, very different from what it is to make a jewel directly in metal. Even, as seen in the photograph below, the stones are placed in the wax and come out already set from cast.
With this type of processes it is easy to have a great homogeneity. But the ease of maintaining an exact model is also which dehumanize the jewels. Using the cast you lose the special touch that the hand of the jeweler brings to the jewels.
On the other hand, the process of artisanal creation is very far from the large-scale casting, everything goes through the jeweler, each process is manual, the errors are not corrected with a key and may imply start again with the whole process.
Sawing, welding, shaping, texturing... in each and every one of the steps to create a jewel we leave part of us, a personal impression as a painter leaves with his brushstrokes or a sculptor with his hands, something that makes each jewel something unique, is the original painting that you would like to have, not the poster of which there are hundreds or thousands of copies.
Surfing the web and visiting different pages and marketplace, it's incredible, and rightly so, the amount of handmade jewelry that you can find, the offer is really high but ... Really everything we see is made in an artisanal way? Well, the truth is: NO. Practically more than 90% of jewelry items that include the words "handmade" are not really handmade. It is very easy to write it to sell your product better by offering the exclusivity that the category offers, but by the simple fact of joining together two casting rings purchased in China or by giving the finish to a cast jewel, doesn't means that you can say that the piece is handmade.
There should be a category of "hand-assembled" or "hand-finished", since for all who, as me, have spent years of their life training in jewelry and many other years of practice to produce quality pieces totally handmade, it's very frustrating to have to compete with items that go against everything we work for, that are labeled "handmade" and that make our work lose among thousands of ads that make consumers think that artisanal is the norm, when the reality is that only a minimum percentage of jewelers work entirely by hand without the help of cast, 3D printers, computers ...
We claim the value of an artisan craft with thousands of years of history that go back to times before the Egyptians, we want to continue working with our hands even though everything leads to the mechanization of processes, we wish to continue treating the jewelry as an art capable of reflecting who we are, so, Who are you?