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Articles from CAD / CAM EQUIPMENT (103 Articles), CAD / CAM SERVICES (65 Articles), CASTING SERVICES (27 Articles)

Casting is a crucial part of the jewellery industry
Casting is a crucial part of the jewellery industry

Casting a spell on jewellery

While the demand for customised jewellery remains constant, behind the scenes the casting industry has moved forward rapidly. Emily Mobbs asks a cross-section of jewellers about the crucial role of casting.

Technological advancements have influenced heavily the way bespoke jewellery is produced and sold. Increasingly, jewellers
are transferring their bench skills to a digital environment while consumers are finding their dream, customised piece even more affordable.  

Mikel Gashi, co-owner of family-run Filigree Jewellers, says modern technology has made it easier for jewellers to offer a customised service at a competitive price.

“I’ve got a feeling the demand [for bespoke jewellery] is probably only going to get stronger because Australia has unfortunately, in the last 10 to 15 years, ventured very much into importing massively from countries like Thailand, China and India,” Gashi says.

“So I believe there is going to be a fairly high demand where people will come in and say we love that design but we want to custom-make it because we want that slightly heavier feel, we want better quality, and to be able to talk to the person that made it.”

Head of operations for casting house Palloys, Manuel Kalergis, echoes Gashi’s sentiments and says bespoke jewellery places emphasis on the manufacturing process rather than pure retailing.

“Put simply, people like to be part of the process of the construction of what they wear – be it designing a piece from scratch with their jeweller or getting their names stamped or engraved on a piece from a jeweller’s standard range,” Kalergis explains.

Most retailers contacted by Jeweller commented on the popularity of the use of white gold for customised pieces.

Jeweller David Newman says 95 per cent of young couples entering his Bowral-based store looking for bespoke engagement rings ask for white gold.

He also says platinum has had a surge in popularity in recent years, but provides a poorer casting success rate compared with white gold.

“You get a better cast from premium white gold because platinum is very hard to melt. It has a very high melting content and you can get bubbles in the casting or what they call porosity.”

Similarly, Tishé Fine Jewellery owner Anthony Bates says his customers generally ask for “white gold and anything that Tiffany makes”.

From an outsider’s perspective, producing a white gold Tiffany & Co-inspired engagement ring may look like a simple task – the jeweller will create a design, which then gets cast and presented to the customer within a matter of weeks.

But what goes on behind the scenes to produce a customised jewellery piece?


But in most cases, a retailer will outsource a manufacturer to “cast out” a customer-approved design. Essentially, casting is the process of making a piece of jewellery by pouring a molten or liquid substance into a mould until it solidifies and takes on the impression of the mould.

Bates believes a lot of people forget that casting is a crucial part of the industry and that casters are skilled technicians.

“I think jewellers just think they can drop off the jobs and expect it to be perfect without understanding that a lot of technical knowledge and experience is required for them to do their job. I think they’re underappreciated myself,” he says.

The casting houses contacted by Jeweller all mention the positive impact modern technology has had on the quality, efficiency and cost-effectiveness of their work. Many are investing in new machinery, research and development to improve the casting process and provide a point of difference.

Chemgold, for example, says its research and development department has worked hard to combine controlled fluid dynamics and controlled flow solidification to produce a high-quality platinum.  

Bates claims that quality consistency and finding a company that can be trusted is key when looking for a good caster. He says retailers and casters need to work as a team to remove inconsistencies, improve processes and deliver the best results to customers.

Filigree Jewellers commissions Lenrose to provide wax printing and casting as well as CAD services for its customised pieces. Gashi also stresses the importance of forming a good partnership with a caster.

“If there’s a problem, they’re always sorted without any questions or doubts on what each party is saying. It makes that part of the whole relationship easier.”

For many custom jewellery retailers and suppliers, the introduction of computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) systems and how they have transformed jewellery production cannot go unnoticed.

As winner of both the 2012 JAA CAD/CAM and Jeweller of the Year awards, Martin Linning from Jewellery By Design could be considered an expert in this design technology. The winning computer-designed bangle featuring free flowing diamonds was co-designed with Linning’s colleague and moulded and cast by Rapid Prototyping Services. Linning believes it can take a while for jewellers to identify what new technologies can add value to their work.

David Newman has 40 years’ industry experience and has witnessed a range of developments in the jewellery-making business, but perhaps not one as pertinent as CAD/CAM.

“Now we’ve moved into a different form of jewellery-making by using computerised design,” Newman says. He adds CAD – which is used in 80 per cent of his work – has made producing customised jewellery much easier and has dramatically reduced labour costs. Newman says he outsources the services of Pure Casting for both complex CAD/CAM and casting work.

Tishé Fine Jewellery’s Anthony Bates believes this technology – which basically eliminates pen and paper design – is essential when dealing with the modern-day customer. “The person buying jewellery now is different than the person who was buying it 20 years ago. They’re a lot more accepting of technology."

According to Bates, customers now want to see 3D imagery of designs and look at them in greater detail.

Jeweller Safari Lee has used CAD to her advantage, claiming she now has greater scope to produce unique pieces.

“My rings and pendants that I do for some of my production pieces have my logo on the side and they have pieces that are etched into the top,” Lee says.

“If I didn’t use CAD, the engraving wouldn’t have been as neatly done because it was previously all done by hand.”

As mentioned, not all retailers use in-house CAD/CAM, and instead, outsource a third party for the design process. Rapid Prototping Services production manager Ben Farago believes its offering gives retailers improved efficiency as they’re able to focus on design and finish while leaving the “lower-value” production of CAD/CAM and casting to them.

Outsourcing or not, bespoke jewellery is becoming increasingly faster and affordable to make. The process is not a simple retailing situation but rather a strong relationship between customer, retailer and caster.


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