How Our Handmade Rings are Created
using certified recycled gold, we create unique Handmade Gold Rings for our customers
The first step in making any of our handmade rings is design, and it’s no different for our handmade gold bands. Using Computer Aided Design we create a 3D rendering of what your ring should look like. This 3D ring design is then tweaked until perfect in width, size, and style.
Next, our design is printed in wax using a special 3D printer for jewelry design that prints in a special wax that can be melted and burned out in our lost wax casting process. Each layer of the ring is printed in microns thin layers. A 6mm wide ring can take up to 280 layers and 12 hours to print depending on the detail!
Sprueing and Wax work
Once the ring has printed we then need to remove the outer support wax in a special solution. The red wax dissolves and leaves a perfect, mostly smooth, wax model of the ring ready to be cast.
From here rings in the same gold type and color have sprues added by hand and are attached to a wax ‘tree’. A sprue is a conduit (or pipe) made of wax for gold to flow through and into the design during the casting process. The tree is a long central and thicker ‘trunk’ of wax with the rings branching off by their individual sprues. This tree is then weighed on a jewelers scale to determine how much gold will be needed during the cast.
Large manufacturers have machines that can cast many rings on one tree, but at Northwood we are an artisan shop and our trees usually consist of only 3-8 rings at one time. These smaller batches allow us more control over our handmade rings, but also increase the work needed to keep up with orders.
lost wax casting - melting the wax
Once the ring trees are made, they are carefully placed in metal flasks and a slurry of casting material (investment) is made up and gently poured into the flask to cover the tree, with a small amount of the base of the ‘trunk’ left out. The casting material is then vacuumed to remove all the air bubbles and left to harden.
Once hardened the process of melting out the wax begins. The first step in melting the wax for our handmade rings is done in a lobster pot over the stove (in true Nova Scotia fashion!). The flasks are placed upside down into the pot over steaming water and the wax begins to melt out, leaving a cavity where the models, sprues and trunk once were.
Once most of the wax has melted out, the flasks are placed in a kiln and allowed to heat up until the remaining residue of wax is burned away.
lost wax casting - metal pour
Several hours after the flasks have gone into the kiln they are ready for casting. The wax has been entirely removed and the investment is hot enough that molten gold will be able to flow through the trunk and sprues into the empty model spaces.
The weight of the initial wax tree is converted based on the type and color of gold, and grains (small balls of gold) are carefully measured out to the perfect amount.
An oxy/propane casting torch is used to melt the gold in a small crucible until it is molten and flows easily around when swirled.
The flask is removed from the kiln and set on the vacuum table. The gold and torch hover above the flask until the gold is at the perfect temperature and then, quickly, the gold is poured into the flask.
The heat of the investment, the vacuum suction of the table and the temperature of the gold when poured all need to be perfect for a successful cast.
lost wax casting - Quenching, cleaning, and de-sprueing
When the button (a small bulb of gold remaining at the base of the trunk) is no longer glowing hot, it’s time to quench the cast. The flask is plunged into a bucket of water where the investment material dissolves, leaving our new metal tree behind.
The rings will need to be rinsed several times to remove the last of the casting material from all of the crevices, but once clean the success of our cast can be inspected and our handmade gold rings can finally be seen taking form.
A pair of heavy-duty metal clippers and some upper body strength are then needed to clip our handmade rings from the tree. This will leave a small nub behind that will be cut off with a rotary tool and then ground down to be flush with the rest of the ring.
handmade artisan rings
The cleaned and de-sprued rings are still a long way from being finished. In the final steps the inside of the ring will be polished to a high shine and checked for size.
Depending on the style, wood, gemstones, and other additions will be completed. For the wood portion, a piece of wood will be cut to the right width and steam bent to fit around the ring, then placed, glued, shaped and sanded to a smooth finish.
A clear, acrylic coating is applied to any wood portions in multiple layers and left to cure between coats. Once all the coats have been added it will be sanded, buffed and polished to a glass-like finish.
Any gemstones are added last and are set carefully by skilled owner and goldsmith, Allan Hill.
The handmade ring, when completely finished, will be inspected by each artisan that worked on it’s creation and by our office staff before being packaged and sent to its final destination.