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Special Jewelry Techniques

 
 
 

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Special jewelry techniques enable the jewelry designer to go beyond normal design parameters, and explore creativity to the fullest. Special jewelry techniques include enameling, etching, casting, and stone setting.

ring with enamel and diamonds

Enameling

The enameling process uses a mixture of silica, lead oxides, salts of soda, potassium, and boric acid to add color to jewelry. These materials are very finely ground, then mixed with a base, such as lavender oil, to form the enamel. Enamels, which can be transparent, opalescent, or opaque, are either painted directly on to copper, steel, gold, or silver surfaces, or are layered on top of each other for a watercolor-like effect. Once the enamel has been applied, it is fired in a kiln at a temperature of 750 to 820 degrees C.

etched silver bracelets

Etching

Etching is a process that uses an acid solution, known as "mordant," to remove specific parts of the metal on a piece of jewelry. Metal can be removed to make a design, or to prepare a surface to be enameled. Before beginning the etching process, a “resist” needs to be painted on to areas of the metal that need to be protected. Then, the jewelry is dipped into the mordant using tweezers. The longer you leave the metal in the mordant, the deeper the depression will be. As a general rule of thumb, designs require less of a depression, while surfaces to be enameled require more of one. Remove the jewelry from the mordant to test the depth of the etching, and rinse it in cold water when satisfied.

jewelry casting process

Casting

The casting process enables jewelers to create shapes with wax molds, and is ideal for those looking to reproduce identical pieces. There are four different casting techniques: cuttlefish casting, sand casting, and lost-wax casting can be done at home, while rubbing model casting requires a large workspace and special equipment.

gemstone setting on a necklace

Stone Setting

To add interest and beauty to a piece of jewelry, a stone or cluster of stones is often added as the focal point. In order to set stones, jewelers must be adept at making collets, mounts, and settings. The process can be so intricate, especially when setting smaller stones, that jewelers seek out specialists in this art, or become specialists themselves.
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Special Jewelry Techniques