Saturday, 19 July 2014

Manufacturing Processes for Jewelry

For centuries, jewelry has been used for personal adornment. Jewelry is a symbol of status, power, love, friendship and romance. The finished piece of jewelry that we take utmost pleasure in wearing comes to us as a result of elaborate and intricate methods of manufacturing.

Jewelry manufacturing is an art in itself, right from conception of an idea to its execution. As a designer or even as a consumer it is essential to have knowledge of how jewelry is manufactured. From the point of view of a designer it is extremely important to ensure that designs sketched stand true to the test of practicality. A good looking design might not be a practical one! And from the point of view of a consumer it is important because of the price variations that come in due to the method of manufacturing. For example if a piece of jewelry is hand crafted it will demand a higher price because the process is very laborious and slow. Whereas, a casted piece of jewelry will demand a lower price because casting is a method used for bulk production.
Further listed below are various methods of manufacturing jewelry.

HAND FABRICATION/BENCH- MADE: it is the most ancient method which is used to make jewelry. In this method the piece is manufactured manually using various techniques such as sawing, filing, annealing, soldering, setting and finishing. It is a dying art because it takes the most skill and time but it yields the highest quality of finish possible.
  • It promotes creativity as design options are unlimited.
  • It is able to exhibit the skill and work of each craftsman individually.
  • It requires less cleaning and finishing.

  • It is a very time consuming process.
  • The cost of production is high.
  • It is a laborious process.

LOST WAX INVESTMENT CASTING: this method is believed to be more than 5000 years old. In this process a duplicate metal sculpture is casted from the original piece.
First and foremost in this process a master piece which one wishes to replicate is needed.
The master is then sandwiched in between two silicone sheets under extreme heat and pressure.
In heat silicone becomes hard and rubbery. After cooling, master is cut out and the mould is separated in two halves.
Melted wax is then injected under pressure in the mould.
After cooling wax model is removed. Various such models are created.
These are then attached to a wax tree. Many parts can be casted on a single tree wax.
Then a flask is fit over this tree and then investment (plaster of Paris) poured into the flask. The POP mix before being put in the flask is put in a vaccum to remove all air bubbles. It is then left for setting which takes about fifteen minutes.
After pouring the POP mix, the flask is again put in the vaccum. Then the flask is put in a furnace. As a result wax melts out creating a cavity in the plaster.
Then the flask is inverted and with the help of the hole at the base of the tree molten metal is poured in the flask. Then the flask is cooled by plunging it in cold water.
Once the flask is out solidified metal pieces are clipped from the tree and are cleaned up. Next step is filing and polishing



  • It is relatively a quick way of making identical pieces. Thus, it is a time saving process.
  • It turns out to be economical when many pieces are produced from the same mould.
  •  It provides unlimited design possibilities.

  • Cast metal is less suitable for fine engraving because of porosity.
  • It requires more cleaning and finishing than other methods.

ELECTROPLATING: electroplating process originated in 1830’s. This turned out to be an accurate and convenient method to reproduce antique objects. This method originally required a very high Karat of gold, which was about 23.5K. But with technological advancements it was done with 18K and 14K gold. From then this method became very popular.
Electroplating can be defined as a process of depositing precious metal over another less expensive metal. It is usually used to produce light weight jewelry.
For electroforming firstly, the metal which is to be electroplated is thoroughly cleaned and dipped in distilled water. Then this piece is attached to the negative cathode.
Then in a container the electroplating solution is filled which is called the electrolyte. In this electrolyte the metal to be deposited is put. Now the negative cathode and positive anode is immersed in the electrolyte.
The current is then switched on. The whole apparatus is connected to a rectifier which changes the alternative current from a normal plug to direct current. This conversion is important since alternating current is stronger and it might burn the metal.
From here on, the deposition process begins. Slowly the metal piece is coated with a thin layer of depositing material.
  • This process is helpful in creating costume jewelry.
  • Electroformed pieces are able to exhibit fine details and minute engravings.

  • Electroformed pieces dent easily. Once such pieces are dented or broken it is not possible to repair them.
  • Cost of production is high due to expensive equipments.
  • Electroformed jewelry is not suitable for stone mountings.

STAMPING: it is a procedure in which the metal is pressed between steel dies in a hydraulic press at very high pressure for industrial purposes. This method is ideal for large scale production and is widely used for manufacturing coins, pendants, earrings and shanks. On a smaller scale it can be taken up individually and with the help of stamps, hammer and other tools.


  • Cost of production is low.
  • It gives consistent quality and uniformity.
  • Pieces produced require less cleaning and finishing.

  • In this process design options are limited.
  • It is not suitable for stone setting.
In-depth knowledge of methods of production always yields good results. It gives one the confidence to design jewelry as it makes one aware of the practical aspects of production. 

 To have a clearer understanding of the processes one must visit a factory site.

*The Author is a Colored Stone Graduate from Gemological Institute of America, Mumbai and a Diamond Graduate from Solitaire Diamond Institute, Bangalore. She also holds a Diploma in Jewelry Designing & Manufacturing from Jewelry Product Development Centre, Jaipur. She also blogs at 'The Jewel Affair'

*Picture Courtesy: Google Images

Friday, 11 July 2014

Doodles and Jewellery

Article by Rakshan Zoya
Jewellery Designing Instructor, SDI

The first thing a person does when handed with a pen and paper is autograph their names. And the next thing would be to sketch  random images and figures..
These random drawing are called doodles
A huge source of great artistic creations comes as a result of this impulsive and impromptu doodles and  Jewellery is no exception.. A random sketch on paper can be improvised and converted into a beautiful Jewellery piece.
The following rendered jewellery sketch  is inspired form doodles, made with Emeralds, Citrines and Diamonds set in yellow gold and screaming elegance in its style.

Jewellery design: Rakshan Zoya 

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Tuesday, 8 July 2014


Nature’s one of the most scintillating creations is Diamonds. They are truly a symbol of breath taking beauty, rarity, durability and of never ending love.
These sparkling beauties have traveled a long way in the history. When a diamond is set into an ornament it is believed to be at least billions of years old. Diamonds endure enormous pressure when they are being formed under the structural layers of the Earth under precise conditions. If we look at the chemical composition of diamonds they exist in the simplest forms of carbon but they make the world’s biggest treasures.

In this post we explore the journey of the world’s greatest diamond
  • Weight: 105.6 carats (21.6 grams approximately)
  • Cut: Oval brilliant
  • Color: Colourless
  • Current location: Tower of London
Koh-I-Noor literally means the “mountain of light” in Persian. The first account of this beauty is believed to be in the early Sanskrit script which goes back to almost 5000 years. It is speculated that it was mentioned as the syamantaka in the texts. Hindus believe that this diamond was obtained by lord Krishna from Jambvanth whose daughter he had married.

It was discovered in the Golconda mines of Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh, India. The next reference dates back to 1304 where it was in the ownership of Mahlak Deo, the Raja of Malwa. Mahlak Deo then lost it the Kakatiya dynasty and then it further went on to the Lodhi dynasty.
According to the memoirs of Mughal Emperor Babur, Babur Nama in 1526 when he invaded the fort of Agra he acquired the diamond which then weighed around 186 carats. It was presumably presented to him as peshkash or tribute by Sultan Ibrahim Lodhi. Thereafter the gem was known as Babur’s Diamond.

There exists an alternative theory regarding how the Kohinoor came to the Mughal dynasty. It is believed that Mir Jumla a reputed diamond merchant from Persia, who was employed by the ruler of Golconda, got into an alliance with the ruler’s mother. To prevent a scandal he was sent to the mines where his fortune took a turn and he acquired the prized diamond. Around 1656 he then presented it to the then Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan who got it set in his famous Peacock Throne.

Babur’s Diamond for two centuries went into the hands of many rulers and subsequently was inherited by Mohammed Shah, the corrupt Mughal Emperor. At this time the strength of the great Mughal Dynasty was decreasing and in the skies of Persia a new star was rising, Nadir Shah. By 1739 he had conquered Delhi and made Mohammed Shah his prisoner and seized the crown jewels. But to his dismay he could not find the diamond anywhere. On one fine day a lady informed him that Mohammed Shah wore the magnificent diamond in the pleats of his turban. So Nadir Shah invited him for a royal feat and in the course of his meals he proposed an exchange of their turbans in the spirit of brotherhood. Seeing the gem Shah exclaimed ‘Koh-I-Noor’ and that is how the famous diamond acquired its name.

In 1747 Nadir Shah was murdered in his sleep and then the diamond was inherited by his grandson Shah Rukh Mirza. He then awarded it to Ahmad Abdali, his loyal supporter. Abdali then went on to become the ruler of Afghanistan. After several years his brother Shah Shuja escaped to Lahore due to war for his brother’s throne. He took refuge with the Sikh ruler Maharaja Ranjit Singh who was known as the ‘Lion of Punjab’. Ranjit Singh in 1813 managed to take away the diamond from him as a payment for the protection he was providing Shah Shuja and his family.
After Ranjit Singh’s reign weak rulers reigned over Punjab. In 1843 Duleep Singh became the new Maharaja, who was still a minor. In 1849 the British annexed Punjab and included it in their empire. He then signed the Treaty of Lahore which was brought to him by Lord Dalhousie, the British Governor General. The treaty had a clause which stated that the Koh-I-Noor must be handed over to the queen of England. In 1850, the East India Company presented Queen Victoria with the celebrated diamond. 
But when the diamond was presented to the queen she and her reigning monarch, Prince Albert was disappointed with the lack of brilliance of Koh-I-Noor. They ordered the diamond to be re-cut. This difficult task was given Voorzanger- the foremost cutter of the reputed Dutch firm Coster. Unfortunately the re-cutting did not increase the brilliance greatly. However, Queen wore the diamond for 5 years. In 1902 it was set in the Imperial Crown for her daughter in law Queen Alexandra and again in Queen Mary’s crown in 1911.


Koh-I-Noor is said to be unlucky for male Emperors and in England has been worn only by Queens. Its current weight is now estimated to be 105.602 carats.
Ownership of Koh-I-Noor is a controversial issue due to its unclear history. India after attaining independence tried to claim the diamond, but in vain.
Britain claims to be the owner of the celebrated Diamond and it is kept open for public display in the Jewel House at the Tower of London as a symbol of British National Heritage.

Koh-I-Noor’s journey is a reflection of its awe-inspiring beauty. It has seen the peaks and valleys; betrayal, romance, loyalty & royalty. Although Koh-I-Noor accounts to half of the entire World’s daily expenses and the fact that it was used by some of the World’s most imposing historical figures makes it priceless.

*The Author is a Colored Stone Graduate from Gemological Institute of America, Mumbai and a Diamond Graduate from Solitaire Diamond Institute, Bangalore. She also holds a Diploma in Jewelry Designing & Manufacturing from Jewelry Product Development Centre, Jaipur. She also blogs at 'The Jewel Affair'

*Picture Courtesy: Google Images