How Are Engagement Rings Made?
At J.M. Edwards Jewelry we get many young men who come in our doors asking this question. We are one of the few jewelry stores in the Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill area that specialize in producing high quality engagement rings and custom jewelry in house. Engagement rings can be made a number of ways, but here is a brief description of the main methods of construction….
Hand Fabricated Engagement Rings….
This is what we often refer to as an old world technique, hand fabrication is hand forging. This is the same way that jewelry has been made for centuries. The goldsmith will take a raw bar of 18kt gold or platinum and through hammering and annealing, he will shape the metal into the desired design for the engagement ring.
This method of creating an engagement ring requires a large number of hours for labor, and is one of the most expensive methods of manufacturing an engagement ring. That being said this method produces a truly superior piece of jewelry. Through the forging process the goldsmith hammers the gold or platinum into a very dense and therefor durable engagement ring. I like to tell customers, that if you imagine an engagement ring that you would pass down through generations of children and grandchildren, that would be a hand fabricated platinum engagement ring.
At J.M. Edwards Jewelry our talented goldsmiths specialize in hand fabricating engagement rings and any other jewelry that our clients request, a statement that not many jewelry stores in the Raleigh area can make.
A Hand Fabricated Engagement Ring is not the same as a “Hand Made” engagement ring. Every piece of jewelry is hand made, but only a few engagement rings are hand fabricated. Due to the level of craftsmanship that is required for hand fabrication most of the mass produced designer engagement rings you will see are not going to be made this way.
If a customer’s budget and design allows for it we always try and encourage them to have their engagement rings hand fabricated, especially if it is going to be made in platinum, because platinum does not cast very well (porosity issues can arise). But unfortunately many times a customer wants a certain look and has a certain budget so we end up using following method instead.
Cast Engagement Ring…
Probably the most common method of engagement ring manufacturing is casting. The act of casting an engagement ring begins by either hand carving a wax(or white metal) model or using a computer to create a CAD/CAM model, from there a mold is made and molten metal is poured into that mold creating a rough finished piece. This process allows many different designs and more detail than most people will realize.
This is a great method for many designs, and often it is a great alternative to hand fabrication for a customer with a budget that want a micro pave engagement ring.
CAD/CAM software has changed the jewelry industry by allowing an unbelievable amount of detail to be made into these models, therefor reducing much of the labor required in the finishing work and setting process that used to have to be done.
Casting does have some down sides, because there is not any work being done that compresses the piece, these engagement rings are not as dense as a hand fabricated piece and therefor not as durable. Also depending on the casting equipment being used, many times very small air bubbles will form in the metal while it is molten causing porosity in the finished piece, this is particularly a problem with platinum because it is not easy to cast.
Die Struck Engagement Rings…
The final method we will talk about is very similar to hand fabricating engagement rings, the difference is that instead of an individual person doing it, large machines are doing it. Die striking is the method of starting with a bar of either gold or platinum and using dies and presses to punch and form the metal into a ring. Pressures of around 50 tons are often used. With this you get an extremely dense and durable engagement ring.
The down side of this process is that because of the tools needed, the design options are quite limited. This method is best for creating diamond solitaries, three stone anniversary rings and simple engagement ring designs.
Each method of creating and engagement ring has its advantages and disadvantages. When you are ready to make one of the biggest and most important purchases of your life make sure you know what is the best method for your ring. Feel free to call and schedule an appointment to take a tour of our full jewelry shop to see in person what I have described. As always J.M. Edwards Jewelry is proud to serve the Raleigh Durham and Chapel Hill area with the highest quality custom made jewelry and engagement rings.