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Everything You Need to Know About Jewellery Making
Before ending up as part of our overall wardrobe or an addition to our list of accessories, the necklaces, bracelets, or pairs of earrings that we wear go through the process of jewellery making.
Putting together pieces of gemstones and other attractive materials may seem intimidating.
As an enthusiast, you may have thought about how artisans breathe life into their jewellery creations. Or perhaps, you are someone who aims to be like Louis-Francois Cartier, Sotirio Bulgari, or any other jewellery craftsman. This article will help you learn more about jewellery making.
The History of Jewellery
Jewellery making has a rich history, dating back thousands of years. In fact, archaeologists have discovered the world’s oldest jewellery in Morocco—a set of snail-shell beads aged 150,000 years old. In the early days, jewellery making supplies consisted of teeth, bones, shells, stones, wood, and other objects from the surroundings.
Classic Jewellery Making Techniques
Artisans have been practising various jewellery making techniques for centuries, and most industry professionals still use them up to this day. Here are some of them:
The Cloisonné method originated in Egypt (1800 B.C.) and also landed in China (early to mid-14th century) and Japan (mid-19th century onward). In this ancient technique, a jewellery maker solders flat metal strips made of brass, silver, gold, or copper into the surface of a metal object. This process creates small, thinly-walled cellular compartments. These tiny compartments are filled with inlays of cut gemstones or other types of precious materials or colourful vitreous enamel paste. The last step is that the jewellery is heated at a high temperature and fired in a kiln to give it a smooth finish and polish.
Lost Wax Casting
One of the oldest jewellery making methods is the lost wax costing which is believed to have originated from the 3rd century B.C. Also known as cire perdue, the process involves a jewellery maker using a wax mould to produce metal alloys. Through this technique, one can use gold, silver, bronze, brass, and other common metals to create jewellery. It can also replicate as many similar pieces of jewellery as possible. In addition to making jewellery, the procedure is used for building sculptures and ornaments. The oldest known produced jewellery through lost wax casting is a 6,000-year-old amulet created by a society in the Indus Valley.
A relatively modern technique is the Filigree method. This became a popular jewellery making procedure in the Art Deco era of the 1920s and 1930s. It involves twisting thin metal threads and converting them into lace-like patterns. To create a larger piece, the jewellery maker combines the fine wire pieces using solder, with or without gemstone accents. The entire process can be time-consuming as it is repeated by hand until the desired look is achieved.
Jewellery Making in the Present Days
The above-mentioned methods are still being practised by artisans up to this day but we are now living in a modern era. Jewellery making techniques are constantly being upgraded to adhere to the latest technology.
In jewellery designing and production, professionals combine the application of computer-aided design (CAD) software and a 3D printer. This technology is beneficial as it helps a jewellery maker respond to corrections easier and produce creations faster. It also assists them with detailing.
3D printing also allows customers to be more involved in the jewellery making and designing process. With this modern technique, the prospective buyer can quickly preview different ideas and produce a piece that matches the customer’s specific wants and needs.
Laser technology is also bringing new solutions to the jewellery industry by using a computer-controlled programme to identify precise movements in cutting, welding, and decorating to create high-quality items.
Laser cutting allows for makers to easily create complex designs and produce deep metal engravings. A jewellery maker can engrave any type of font, even calligraphic lettering, into the crafted piece. Plus, it can microscopically carve identification numbers or other ID markers into the gem of the jewellery, fulfilling security and anti-theft features.
Furthermore, a lot of finishing machines are already being used in the jewellery making process. This includes centrifugal planetary barrels, vibratory bowls, roll-burnishing machines, centrifugal discs, magnetic pin machines, and barrel tumblers.
These machines can produce several pieces of jewellery simultaneously and can operate continuously even with minimal worker interaction.
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Dig deeper into the world of jewellery making while getting to know aspiring jewellery designers at the Jewellery & Watch Show Abu Dhabi. The event’s very own Ebda’a Awards features upcoming local talent and their unique creations.
9-13 Nov 2022, ADNEC, Abu Dhabi
Steps in Jewellery Making
Jewellery making involves a lot of intricate processes. If you are an aspiring jewellery maker, be ready to take several steps before producing your final masterpiece.
The first step in creating jewellery is coming up with a concept. Sometimes, this can be the most difficult part, unless you have already envisioned a jewellery design for a long time.
In jewellery designing, you must conduct research to determine whether your concept will sell in the market and is unique from retail stores.
If it’s viable, you also need to consider its potential and appeal to people. You may also want to check if your jewellery concept is safe and cost-effective.
Designing Your Piece
Once you have determined your desired jewellery piece, it’s time to start breathing life into your idea. You can start by doing a simple sketch on paper. You can experiment with various colors and shapes, as well as the types of materials you would like to use for your jewellery.
As you label each part of the jewellery, you will also be able to get an idea of which tools you will need.
Acquiring the Necessary Tools
Jewellery making supplies will depend on what type of jewellery you are trying to create. For instance, wire-wrapped jewellery can easily be produced even with simple tools at home.
If the jewellery piece contains precious metals, it may require a torch and soldering equipment. You will need a kiln to make fused glass or metal clay jewellery pieces, while a centrifugal casting machine is required for casting precious metals.
In the professional jewellery making world, the approved design will be handed over to the artisan for moulding and casting. Jewellery moulding is a process done by hand wherein the artisan forms a jewellery design into a master mould.
Meanwhile, jewellery casting is a complex process that involves placing a wax mould into a steel container, filling it with investment powder, and heating it in a heat chamber. After moulding and casting, the artisan will work on the jewellery’s finish through matte, satin, hammered, brushed, and high polish techniques.
Embellishing and Setting
The next step of the jewellery making process is selecting the stones that are required for the design. Craftsmen will consider which stone weights and sizes are suitable for jewellery. Once every item is finalised, the setting specialist will carefully add each gemstone to the cast material under the lens of a microscope.
Entering the Final Stages
The second to last stage is the deburring, polishing, buffing, and cleaning of the jewellery piece. These processes will achieve the jewellery’s highest degree of shine and smoothness. The jewellery then goes through an electro-deposition process or plating. It increases the jewellery’s wearability and durability.
Going Through Quality Control
Like any other industry, the final item needs to undergo quality control. A specialised team inspects every part of the jewellery for any possible defect. A chief artisan does this job in some companies.
Some Jewellery Making Tips
So, you want to be a jewellery maker? Jewellery will always remain strong in the market and can be a good skill to invest in.
Fortune Business Insights is forecasting that the global jewellery market size has the potential to reach $266.53 billion by 2027 at a CAGR of 3.7%.
Developed countries of the Middle East such as Qatar, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates will significantly contribute to the growth of the jewellery industry.
Kickstart your jewellery making career with these tips:
1. Choose specific jewellery to focus on
With the wide selection of jewellery, it can be overwhelming to decide what you should create first. It’s unrealistic to try creating every piece, especially when you are just starting. That is why it’s advisable to focus on a specific type of jewellery first and go from there. This will allow you to learn a certain technique, which you can later use for another type of jewellery.
2. Learn the basics
As a jewellery maker, you need to possess several sets of skills and responsibilities. For one, you need to stay updated with the latest assembly techniques, as well as global jewellery fashion and trends. You also need to be knowledgeable about different types of metal, gems, and stones that can be used for jewellery.
Gain the skills necessary by being a jeweller’s apprentice. Aside from learning from the experts, joining an apprenticeship programme can also give you exposure to the jewellery industry. Joining local amateur jewellery making classes is also beneficial.
3. Invest in tools and supplies
Get your hands on the tools necessary to make the jewellery making process easier. Some of the jewellery making supplies you should have as a beginner are wire cutters, a crimping tool, bead stoppers, and round, chain, or flat nose pliers.
But before ordering a jewellery making kit, make sure to familiarise yourself with the items. Knowing the different purposes of each material saves you money, as you only buy what you need and prevent spending on unnecessary items.
4. Have your own workspace
An open area can lead to distractions and disorganisation, which is why having a dedicated workspace for jewellery making is ideal. Set aside a certain room or space in your house where you can spend timedesigning or making jewellery.
Sort your jewellery making supplies and label each one of them for easy access. Furthermore, develop a crafting schedule and stick with it. Keeping things organised will help you make the piece of jewellery you have envisioned.
5. Check the web for inspiration
If you still have no idea what type of jewellery you want to create or you’re simply overwhelmed with the selection, the Internet has you covered. You can browse around on Pinterest or even look at jewellery for sale in your favourite stores to get design inspiration. You can also get some ideas just by watching techniques on YouTube.
Start your Jewellery Making Journey
Take your first steps on your jeweller making journey and before you know it, you’ll be making exquisite items for friends and family. It’s also a perfect chance to start a small business and sell your creations online.
Be Inspired by the Creations at the Jewellery & Watch Show
Get the inspiration you need by attending the Jewellery & Watch Show Abu Dhabi. The event showcases creations that are not available in any other retail store. Join thousands of other jewellery and watch enthusiasts and revel in the exhibitors’ diverse collections. Plus, be the first to witness the magnificent masterpieces especially made by local Emirati talent at the Ebda’a Awards. There’s so much in store for you at the Jewellery & Watch Show Abu Dhabi.