On the Making of Jewellery using Traditional Techniques

On the Making of Jewellery using Traditional Techniques

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I am not much of a writer. I prefer to communicate one on one with people, preferably face to face so please bear with me.

Life is too short to wear department store jewellery!
Life is too short to wear department store jewellery!

I am writing this blog in response to requests from people who have asked me to explain how my jewellery is made and to explain the differences to the mass produced jewellery that is sold in most jewellery retail outlets.

Well it is really simple. My jewellery is entirely made by hand without investment casting techniques. The only casting I do is to make ingots.

My jewellery starts out as an idea in my mind and is then transferred to paper, never to a computer. A copper or brass mock up is often made to work out the design kinks. When I am happy with my design, I move to the fabrication stage.

I first melt the appropriate precious metal, usually casting grain, in a crucible and pour the molten metal into an ingot mold. Then I roll the ingot into sheet or wire. If it is wire, I “draw down” the wire until it is the thickness that I need.

I then set about laying out the design on the sheet with a needle and then saw out the rough shapes that will be used. I may also be forging, with heavy hammers, thick sheets or wire into shapes that are needed for the design.

The pieces are assembled and soldered together, then a preliminary polishing is carried out. After that, any required jewels are set and the piece is given a final polishing and the client is contacted.

This was an abbreviated  version of the reality of making handmade jewellery – in reality there is much annealing and pickling involved throughout the various processes.

Hand made jewellery has intangible but real qualities that are not to be found in mass produced pieces. Anyone who has had a quality artisan made item and used it regularly understands what I am saying. There is something special and comforting about owning and wearing handmade items.

Dan Taylor's Jeweller's Bench
Dan’s Jeweller’s Bench

I use specialized tools to make my jewellery, starting with my jewellery bench. My bench weighs hundreds of pounds and is designed to make jewellery by hand. This basic design is centuries old and benches much like it can be found in ancient drawings and etchings of silversmith and goldsmith shops.

I use the traditional tools at this bench: hammers, files, dividers, vernier calipers, drills, rulers, scrapers, sanding sticks,  etc.  As well I use some of the newer conveniences: a foredom flex shaft, modern polishing equipment and oxy-propane torches. But the techniques I use are the same as have been used for the last thousand years.

More to come about the improved metal that I prefer to use – Argentium silver, the ultra low tarnishing silver.

If this is the kind of jewellery that interests you, then please contact me via email or telephone.

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