Step 1 – Consultation (No appointment necessary – 1 to 2 hours)
When visiting the studio to begin a custom design, we often tell our clients that physics is the only limitation. If it can be imagined, we can create it! During the consultation phase we begin planning out types of metal and gemstones to be used in the piece. Sometimes we are creating a new piece of jewelry for a proposal or special gift, and other times we are incorporating sentimental diamonds & gemstones into a new design. Whatever the circumstances, we are happy to offer suggestions and concepts. Clients are invited to bring in images and artwork they find appealing to help us narrow down elements they are drawn to that can be incorporated into a design. At this phase we create a few rough sketches to lock-in a general design idea to prepare for moving forward.
Step 2 – CAD/CAM Design (Completed by our designers – 3 to 8 hours)
Working from the initial sketch, our CAD/CAM designers prepare a digital design incorporating the elements our clients wish to see. We create a 3D representation of the custom in an interactive program which digitally builds the architecture of the design. Each client receives a rendering of their design which looks like a photograph of the finished piece. Often clients may know what they want their design to look like, but can’t decide what metal they want. We are able to render the same image displaying different types of metal or colors of gemstones to help the client make their final decision.
Step 3 – Wax Creation (Digitally carved in-studio – 2 to 6 hours)
When a rendering receives final approval, we move the design to our wax prototyping unit. This in-house technology exactly interprets the digital design into a casting wax. The machine utilizes a precision carving needle to shave down a block of wax and carve the design. The process is slow but captures every finite detail from the rendering. The process is almost hypnotic to watch!
Step 4 – Investing (Completed by our jewelers on scheduled days – 1 hour)
After a client gives final approval on a wax, we schedule a day and time convenient for their schedule to watch their design being cast (and they are welcome to invite friends and family to the event). Our jewelers go to work attaching the design to a wax “tree” in preparation for casting. In this process, we connect small bars of wax to the design that create channels which later allow the molten metal to flow into the design and fill in every detail. The tree is placed into a flask, then surrounded by investment (a heat resistant putty similar to plaster-of-Paris). We put the flask under a bell jar in a vacuum, then draw out every particle of air we can. Through this process, the investment suspends the wax in every finite detail so that the design casts flawlessly.
Step 5 – Burnout, Casting, & Quenching (By appointment)
Clients have the option to schedule a specific day & time to watch their design being cast. The burnout process takes 12 hours, so we begin by placing the flask containing their design into a kiln overnight to “burnout” the wax and create a void of the ring design. One hour before the client’s scheduled casting time, we melt the metal in preparation for pouring. As our clients arrive, we pull the flask from the hot kiln and place it onto a vacuum unit that pulls air through the pores of the investment, ensuring minimal air exposure for the molten metal and creating a solid casting, free of porosity. The clients then watch safely from our observation window as a crucible of molten metal passes by (with heat you can feel through the glass). The metal is poured into the void of their design, and within a few minutes we quench the casting, boiling away the investment and revealing the raw casting of the piece. Clients get to touch & feel the rough casting just a few minutes after it had been molten metal.
Step 6 – Finishing
The raw casting is clipped from the tree and placed into a tumbling unit overnight to brighten the design and begin the finishing process. Depending on the intricacy of the custom, our team will complete the finishing process in typically 10-15 business days after casting. We polish the piece, set the gemstones, then clean and inspect the finished design. The custom is then ready to go home and be cherished for many years to come!