Step-By-Step Style: A Guide to the Jewellery-Making Process
How is Jewellery Made?
How jewellery is created, produced and manufactured is heavily influenced – first and foremost – by the type of material the jewellery is made out of. Popular materials that jewellers can select from to produce their jewellery pieces will often include gold, silver and precious metals, crystals and gemstones, as well as diamonds and precious stones, glass, or even pearls and freshwater stones. Needless to say, each of these materials has a different production style and manufacturing method involved when creating jewellery from them, and of course, each material will produce different results and aesthetic styles in terms of the jewellery pieces they are crafted into.
Of course, regardless of the material chosen to produce a jewellery piece, there also are different types of jewellery that precious metals and stones of any kind can be made into – the most popular style being earrings, followed closely by necklaces, bracelets and rings, and also, cufflinks and brooches. Additionally, there are different categories of jewellery. These categories play an important part in defining and identifying the quality, and price point of a jewellery piece. Jewellery quality categories include fine jewellery (the highest quality available on the market), semi-fine jewellery (mid-range, often slightly more budget-friendly pieces), and fashion jewellery (which is also referred to as costume jewellery, and is often made from low-quality, metal-plated pieces, or even plastic).
However, while the quality and type of jewellery do both play a role in the production and creation of a jewellery piece, for the purpose of this article, we will be exploring the different manufacturing methods that exist in relation to the material chosen to produce the jewellery in question.
Gold, Silver and Precious Metal Jewellery
One of the most popular ways to make jewellery from precious metals such as gold or silver is using the ‘casting’ method. This method involves using a wax mould into which heated gold, silver or precious metal is poured. Once the molten liquid metals have hardened and cooled inside the mould, the piece is removed, and it then will need polishing and finishing to make it shiny and complete.
Crystal and Gemstone Jewellery
Crystals and gemstones can be fashioned into various types of jewellery. More often than not, crystals or gemstones are simply set into gold or silver pieces to make unique, colourful jewellery. However, crystal and gemstone jewellery pieces can also be crafted purely from gems – in the form of either crystal chips or tumbled stones. These types of polished rocks and stones are most often made into bracelets, to be worn around the wrist.
In terms of method – after the crystal chips or tumbled stones are cleaned and polished, they are usually strung onto elastic, string or twine to form a bracelet. Similarly, crystal chips and tumbled stones can also be fashioned into anklets, using the same method.
Diamond and Precious Stone Jewellery
The full process involved in creating diamond jewellery is quite intricate and refined. Traditional production methods in particular take a great deal of skill, patience and time. To make a diamond ring, for example, the cut and polished diamond must be inset into a gold or silver ‘claw’. The claw is painstakingly crafted according to the diamond’s specific cut and meticulously formed to fit the diamond. This can take hours. Like gold, silver and precious metal jewellery, the ‘casting’ method can also be used when working with diamonds – again, using wax as a mould.
Pearl and Freshwater Stone Jewellery
While crystals and gemstones can be threaded onto string, elastic or twine – most often, pearl jewellery is made by stringing the pearls onto pure silk thread. This is due to the strength and quality of the silk-making it the preferred thread of choice to use with delicate pearls. Stringing pearls is a meticulous process, as they can chip easily and require gentle handling. However, the result when executed well is stunning – a simple, refined and classic look for the wearer of the piece.
To make glass jewellery, sheets of glass are purposefully broken into shards to be melted down in a kiln. Once molten, the liquid glass can be fashioned into various shapes, and crafted into a multitude of types of jewellery – including necklaces, bracelets and earrings. Venetian Jewellers in particular are well known for their glass jewellery, thanks to their traditional methods passed down for generations.