Metalwork – Wax Carving

We are continuing our how to series with wax carving, which we use for many of our commitment rings. Wax carving is a very interesting and delicate process.
When we carve a ring in wax, we first decide which type of wax is best suited for the design. Blue wax is the softest and therefore best for more organic shapes, the purple wax is the medium and best for intricate designs, and the green wax is the hardest and most brittle which makes it best for for more architectural and machine like designs.
Once you decide on the wax you are going to use, you can start by measuring the width you need. Using a divider on the tube of wax you can mark the width. Then you saw off the smaller piece which will become your ring. Continue to file off the rough edges to refine your ring design.
Once you have taken off some excess material on the top, you can take a ring sizer (with a blade on the inside) and adjust the size of your ring by taking off material from the inside. After taking off the rough edges and adjusting it to the size you want, you can start refining the design by filing and carving the wax into the shape you desire. As you can see in the video, Rebecca is creating a simple half round band. In order to create the half round band she starts filing a bevel and then softens the edges by connecting the two bevels to create a smooth round finish.
It is important to make the surface of the ring as smooth as possible. This way you will have less work to do once the ring has been cast in metal. In order to do so, you can use sandpaper as well as Rebecca’s nylon stocking tip.
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Quartz – Stone of the Month

Considered the “Universal Crystal” all over the world because of its transparent and colorless nature, Crystal Quartz is the perfect alternative to the diamond, the traditional birthstone of April.

The word “crystal” comes from the Greek word “krustallos”, meaning ice. Quartz was believed to be ice formed by the Gods. Since the Middle Ages, crystal balls made of clear quartz have been used to predict the future. The English word “quartz” comes from the German word “Quarz”.

Another theory, by Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder, was that quartz is ice that has been permanently frozen after a great length of time. Pliny supported this idea by the fact that quartz is mostly found near glaciers in the Alps, but not on volcanic mountains which were formed more recently in the geological history of the Earth.

The ancient Japanese theorized that quartz is formed from the breath of a white dragon, and therefore represents perfection.

Pure crystal quartz, which is often referred to as rock crystal, is found abundantly all over the world. Natural quartz can have inclusions and traces of other minerals in it, which is why larger stones are often synthetically enhanced. Because of its hardness (a 7 on the Mohs scale) and its glass-like properties it is often used for hard stone carvings. The crystals of quartz are generally six-sided and can grow either singularly or in groups taking on different shapes according to the temperature at the time of their formation. They can also come in a variety colors that are considered to be gemstones on their own. These include citrine, rose quartz, amethyst, smoky quartz, milky quartz, and many more.

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While quartz isn’t permanently frozen water, God’s ice or an object to predict the future, it has been said to have strong healing powers. Quartz is known to give its wearer power, energy and clarity. Quartz can help rid you of negative energy, clear your head, feel harmonious and give you new strength to carry on. The crystal quartz is simply an all purpose stone when it comes to natural healing properties.

Photo Credit: Flickr.com – cliff1066

Metalwork – Forging

Today we will share with you some insight on one of our most important processes – forging. Forging is the process of shaping the metal using force. Forging can be done either hot or cold, depending on the metal. For our silver and gold jewelry, we use the cold forging process after annealing the metal. Meaning, we hit the metal while it is cold after heating it up to loosen the molecules and then cooling it off so we can hold it while hammering it. Hot forging is when you hit a portion of the metal while it is hot, traditional blacksmithing is done this way with steel.

To forge the metal all we need is a hammer and an anvil. It’s a very “old-school” process, employed for centuries by metalsmiths from all over the world. Now, often times, the forging process is done by big machines that can put a lot of weight behind every strike. However, we love the preservation of the ancient techniques, so for our jewelry we use only the force of our arms and the weight of the hammer. An interesting fact about forging is, that it actually makes the metal stronger. While you might think that hammering metal would make it thinner and therefore more prone to break, it does exactly the opposite. Forging refines the molecular structure, which results in better and stronger physical properties of the metal.

When we forge the metal to create our signature hammered texture, it is important to stay consistent. That means we try to put the same amount of weight behind every hit, and we move the metal carefully, so the hammer hits each part evenly, creating a very nice texture and refined flow.

Watch Rebecca create her signature texture in our ‘How To: Forge’ video below.

For more detail, also check out this video we did with Mark Shale Stores last year.

Jasper – Stone of the Month

An alternative birthstone for March is Jasper, a gemstone known for its many colors and its beautiful and unique patterns.

Jasper is often thought to be part of the chalcedony class of gemstones. However, it can contain up to 20% foreign material, which results in the beautiful patterns. This makes Jasper considered a group of its own. The Jasper is a 6.5 on the Mohs scale of hardness, which makes it a fairly hard gemstone.

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The Jasper rarely comes in one uniform color. Most of the time these gemstones have streaks or spots of other colors, which results in many names for the varieties of the gemstones, including my favorites “picture jasper“, “ocean jasper” and “nebula jasper“. Because the jasper is an opaque gemstone it tends to be cut as cabochons with a smooth rounded surface. Some versions of the stone can be very inexpensive while other more rare deposits can be very expensive. The patterns and colors are what makes these stones so beautiful, many jewelers go for larger cut stones, making sure to showcase the best aspects. Most jaspers do not need to be treated or enhanced, however some are color-dyed.

Just like most gemstones, the Jasper is also believed to have healing and protective powers. In ancient times, parents often put a jasper in their children’s room in order to protect them from nightmares, snakes and spider bites. Jasper has also been said to instill confidence and courage when touched. This is why some people like to wear a necklace with a small Jasper pendant, so they have the stone close to them at all times.

Photo Credit: Flickr.com – rockman836

Wedding Parties!

We has so much fun at Indie Wed! Held at the Ravenswood Event Center, a giant loft filled with 50’s and 60’s porsches, mercedes and ferraris, it was the perfect space for an event of this kind. Every booth was fun and unique, making all of us want to get married (again). Great music made the day feel more like a party than a show and we are still dreaming of the amazing food. We were so lucky to be next to Uptown Brownie…our waistlines still haven’t forgiven us:).

Our cozy Indie Wed booth!

Our cozy Indie Wed booth!

We also met Poladora, a really cool new company that provides a combined wedding registry from local shops.  They are having a launch party in which we will be attending on Thursday, February 28th from 6pm – 9pm. Click here for the free registration.

Poladora-vertical-invitation

Not only were the vendors wonderful, but the couples walking around were fabulous too. We met a lot of new couples and are excited to share our upcoming projects with you so please stay tuned. In the meantime, we’ve uploaded some of our newest wedding and engagement rings to our website, check them out here.

Metalwork – Soldering

Creating jewelry is a much more technical process than most people think. To create certain pieces, we use chemicals, wax, and precious metals or processes such as forging, filing or soldering to create a certain design and effect. We solder almost everyday. It is the process of joining two metals together with a filler. In simple terms, soldering is the process of gluing metals together through heat.

Soldering has been around for over 5000 years. There is evidence that the ancient Egyptians knew how to solder gold. The Romans also used soldering and did an impressive job by soldering together approximately 249 miles of lead water pipes, which were able to withstand a 18 ATM.

The process of soldering differs from welding, because when you solder, you aren’t melting the actual metal of the piece, but instead you melt a separate piece of metal which will then go between the two metals you want to join together. The filler metal (solder) is a mix of different metals and needs to have a lower melting point in order for this process to work. Lead solder is often used with small electronics because of it’s extremely low melting point, but we use silver and gold solder to create our jewelry. Through melting the solder using an open acetylene flame over the joint of the pieces we want to fuse together, we form a permanent bond that will only cracks under extreme pressure.

While the solder has a different color when it is applied, it will look identical to the original metal after being polished. An untrained eye cannot detect the solder.

In order to solder jewelry, the piece of metal you want to solder needs to be completely clean of coatings, patina, oil etc. The hardest part of soldering is to not overheat the metal, which will destroy the solder and make it unusable. It is also important for the two metals you want to solder to touch, because solder is not supposed to fill gaps, it is just a glue bonding two pieces of metal together.

Watch me solder a piece of jewelry in the video below:

New Blog Series: HOW TO…

Me at my bench...

Me at my bench…

Happy New Year!

We have exciting news to share! Next week we will be introducing our brand new “HOW TO” blog series! We are very excited about this blog series, as it will not only feature many new and exciting pictures but also videos featuring how the magic happens!

We want to give you a better insight on how we make our jewelry, how we take care of it and many more insider tips and tricks. Also, we would love to hear some ideas from you! So if there is something you want to see or if you have a question that you have been burning to ask… leave us a comment or shoot us a quick email at info@rebeccazemans.com

We are excited to hear from you!