Anyone who understands the difference between hand forged and wax cast jewelry knows that in terms of quality, cast based production brings some compromises into the process. Hand forged jewelry, made by a master craftsman has a lot of things going for it. Wax cast jewelry is by far the most common method of creating custom rings and works fairly well for the majority of jobs. But the art of hand forging jewelry still is reminiscent of the craftsmanship reserved for royalty.
There are several marked differences between wax cast jewelry and hand forged jewelry. With hand forged jewelry the master craftsman has control over each individual part of the design. Wax cast jewelry tends to be susceptible to a collection of minor problems. There can be cases where wax cast jewelry may have one or more of the following deficiencies: porosity and pinpoints from air bubbles, less precise joints, imperfections in cathedral openings or in underside baskets, have more of a wavy surface (from the cleaning of the casting mold), and can also result in a heavier yet weaker piece. None of these are disastrous problems but if the piece is affected to a noticeable degree the jeweler will have to have the piece recast. However these problems can be avoided altogether by employing a master craftsman who hand forges the jewelry.
The technological improvements in automation and mass manufacturing have still not dethroned hand forged jewelry as a method to produce jewelry of the highest quality. An expertly hand crafted piece of jewelry has a smoother finish, and is surprisingly lighter while being stronger than an equivalent piece made by wax casting.
One of the finest craftsmen who not only produces remarkable pieces, but who also stocks the finest cut diamonds imaginable is Victor Canera.
Victor Canera is an atelier studio in California that physically produces jewelry. With decades of accumulated knowledge in creating jewelry, they can provide sound advice based on their extensive experience producing jewelry as to what is possible with handmade jewelry.
An example of Victor Canera’s work is shown here. The above video is of the Emilya Halo Solitaire, which has a U-Cut pavé used throughout. This feature, accomplished by using the special tools at the Victor Canera atelier, maximizes the size of the pavé diamonds while at the same time minimizing the amount of seen metal. This hand forged ring in precious platinum features a 4ct Canera Ideal Hearts & Arrows Round diamond. A halo of Single Cut pavé surrounds the center stone. The name used to describe the way the shank is adorned is “shallow U-Cut” Single Cut pavé otherwise known as cut down.
What about cost?
Yes hand forged jewelry will not be in the same price category as wax cast jewelry. But there are ways that you can avoid extra costs by carefully choosing the right options as to how the ring is to be made.
Victor Canera has the following advice:
Labor Costs within the Context of Hand Forged Jewelry Hand Fabricated and Hand Forged Jewelry is extremely labor intensive as compared to other forms of jewelry manufacturing such as using CAD\CAM and casting. We feel very strongly though from our decades of experience in jewelry production that hand forged jewelry is superior in craftsmanship and quality to CAD\CAM and cast manufactured jewels in almost every aspect. It is not unusual for just the base metal work (hand fabrication) of a ring to take many days to complete. This time consuming nature of hand fabricated jewelry means that a significant portion of the cost of a jewel are made up by labor costs. Any changes in a ring design therefore that reduces manufacturing time would in turn decrease the cost of a ring. This can apply directly to Intricate and Ornamental Ring Profiles of some designs that feature “filigree” or “ajour” which substantially add to the time it takes to manufacture a ring and therefore its cost (Fig. 2). Many shoppers aren’t aware of this fact and we believe it’s important for a consumer to do a cost to benefit analysis of intricate profiles by asking for a break down of the added cost of these profiles. In summary, simplifying the profile of a ring by eliminating ajour (with or without pave), filigree or other designs can lead to significant cost savings without effecting the top down view of a ring.
Pavé Set engagement ring designs have been very popular in recent years. One option, if you’re trying to reduce the overal labor cost is to consider decreasing the amount of pavé from parts of a ring. This reduces both diamond carat weight which would be a significant part of the overall cost and also reduces labor costs. Victor Canera passes those savings on directly to the consumer. Eliminating pavé on the band of a ring can substantially reduce costs. Aside from cost reduction, omitting pavé on a band produces a glossy beautiful appearance. Other small ways of saving costs would be foregoing pavé from the stems of a ring design or the donut. In summary, any time pavé is decreased there is a net cost savings to the consumer.
Other cost saving tips:
With Trilogy Engagement Rings, otherwise known as three stone rings, the carat weight, measurements and quality of the side diamonds are a major part of the cost, and selecting smaller and lower grade diamonds for the sides can result in considerable cost savings. For example, selecting E-VS1 side diamonds with a total carat weight of 1.00ct would be costlier than choosing 0.80ct stones that are H Color and VS2-Si1 clarity. It is safe in most instances to simply use “eye clean” clarity for the side diamonds while going a shade or so lower in color than the center stone. The difference in color would be very difficult to distinguish especially if the center diamond and side diamonds employ different facet patterns. Trilogy designs that use tapered baguette side stones or trapezoid shaped side diamonds are also priced out in millimeter lengths. For example, tapered baguettes that measure 6mm long each are priced higher than 5mm tapered baguettes even if they theoretically had the same carat weight. See this example: