Gemstone jewelry is made through a wide variety of manufacturing processes. And most of these processes are designed to mass manufacture the jewelry. This is why the jewelry you see in most retail jewelry stores, chain stores, and e-commerce stores is not described as handmade jewelry. Have you ever thought of what basically happens to metal ore and gemstones as they are mined out of the earth, and how they make an exquisite piece of jewelry? We will answer the entire gemstone jewelry manufacturing process step by step, so buckle up as you read this blog.
How is Gemstone Jewelry Manufactured?
The process of making jewelry is magic in one sense. The entire process of manufacturing gemstone jewelry involves multiple steps, from designing, caming, gemstone polishing, CAD designing, and jewelry plating, to the final steps of jewelry quality check. Now, we will be illuminating the processes that go into making a beautiful piece of gemstone jewelry. So, let's begin with the first step – Mining and Lapidary.
Mining and Lapidary
The process of manufacturing gemstone jewelry begins from the mines, where the gemstones are freed from their matrix, and the metal ores of precious metals are extracted from the earth. Although most of the precious metal that is used in making jewelry and is under circulation is refined and recycled, we can say that at some point in time, it was mined from the depths of this earth. The same thing stands true for gemstones as well – they may trade hands multiple times, but first, they were mined from deep inside the earth.
Once gemstones are mined, they are sent to lapidary. Why? Well, the gemstones that come out straight from the earth are in their original crystal structure, and you require the art of lapidary to bring out the beauty of the stone. Gemstones can be cut in cabochons, faceted, shaped, and polished in this process. Because of lapidary work, they end up losing a large chunk of their carat weight, but they end up becoming exponentially beautiful. Basically, in Lapidary, the stone department turns the raw stone into a finished piece through gemstone polishing.
Crafting a design of your desired gemstone jewelry is the second step of jewelry manufacturing. At the designing stage, the jeweler or jewelry designer develops an idea of the jewelry design, thinking of what the jewelry would look like, and evaluates whether his idea is realistic enough using further analysis.
This stage is just after the designing stage. In the CAD/CAM stage, CAD software is used, which is a 2D and 3D computer-aided software that creates an accurate design of the jewelry. Designers also use it to improve dimensional accuracy and quality of design. When the concept of design is completed by the jewelry designer, the same is created in the system. In this process, the ‘concept on paper’ is converted into the ‘system’ through the CAD software. The CAM or Computer Aided Manufacture software takes care of machining and manufacturing, or in simple words, automating the manufacturing process.
In the process of model-making, the resin output from CAM is converted to a silver model (which is a master design that can be used to create multiple jewelry pieces that look similar using rubber mold) through the process of casting.
This stage plays a very important role in jewelry production. The rubber mold enables the artisans to create multiple pieces of the same designer jewelry, with the design remaining safe and well-protected. Many materials can be used for making the mild, such as natural rubber, silicone, or metal. The process of making mold is called “Vulcanizing.”
The next stage involves the production of wax pieces. From the rubber molds made of the silver master, the wax pieces are produced. This process involves placing the rubber mold in a wax injector machine where wax is injected via pressure into the cavity to create wax models. These wax models are used in the process of casting.
Prior to casting, wax pieces are soldered with a wax stem which is known as ‘treeing’. When spruce is attached to every wax piece in the process of treeing, the wax piece makes an angle of approximately 45 degrees with the stem. Heavier stems are placed at the very bottom of the tree whereas the lighter stems are placed at the very top of the tree.
This step involves the casting stage, which is believed to be the most complex process. For the process of casting, you need skilled and experienced casters. In this process, the wax tree is placed in a steel flask. In this steel flask, a slurry of chemical power is placed which takes about an hour to solidify. Post this, the flask is placed in an electrical furnace where it is heated. Because of the heat, the wax melts down and thus leaves a cavity of the wax tree. Then, molten metal, which is generally 925 sterling silver or gold, is placed in the metal flask and allowed to cool off. After the molten metal cools down, the remnant cast is demolished, thus leaving the jewelry in the form of casting.
In the grinding stage, polishers are used to grind off the nub. A motorized grinding machine, which is also called the polisher, is utilized to smoothen the surface of the silver piece of jewelry. The grinding involves the polishing process. This process is carried out by holding the jewelry piece against the spinning grinding wheel, resulting in a smooth surface.
Filing/ Assembly and Pre-Polishing
The next stage involved in the process of gemstone jewelry manufacturing is filing. In this process, the excess metal is removed from the jewelry piece. In order to remove the casting layer and create a smooth finish, a variety of files and burns are used. Once the filing is over, the task of assembling is done in which two or more components of the same design are joined using the laser technique or soldering technique.
Post assembly, polishing is carried out to give the jewelry piece a neat and fine finish look. In the polishing stage, three steps are involved, which are as follows: polishing stage (which includes tumbling), pre-polishing stage, and ultra cleaning. One thing you must note is, that in the case of faceted gemstones, and especially diamonds, before they are set, the jewelry pieces bearing gemstones or diamonds require pre-polishing.
The 10th stage of gemstone jewelry manufacturing is stone setting. The process of setting or attaching gemstones, such as diamonds, Rubies, sapphires, and emeralds into the jewelry is known as stone setting. It's not necessary that only a single stone setting will be used in the entire jewelry; even a combination of different stone settings might be used to give the jewelry a captivating look. If you go online and search for the different types of stone settings available, you will find a long list of settings such as plate prong, prong, pave, pressure, bezel, bead, invisible, flush, fishtail, miracle plate, and channel.
In the final stage, the polishing of jewelry takes place, once the stage of stone setting is completed. Polishing is mainly done to make sure that the jewelry shines better. Your jewelry can be polished by two means – either manual or by some machine. Tools such as soft buff, solid buff, hair buff, coin buff, etc. are used by artisans to polish the jewelry manually.
Jewelry quality check or Quality control is the ultimate stage of gemstone jewelry manufacturing. In this stage, it is ensured that the final product meets all the defined set of quality guidelines and adheres to the standard requirements. Quality control can involve 3 methods – measurement, mechanical inspection, and visual inspection.
That was it all about how gemstone jewelry is manufactured. We hope that you liked this informational blog post. Are you a jewelry retailer, looking for wholesale gemstone jewelry or sterling silver jewelry for your retail establishment? If yes, then browse through the official website of Rananjay Exports – India’s top wholesale gemstone jewelry manufacturer and supplier, because they deal in a wide variety of jewelry, such as designer jewelry, handmade jewelry, casting jewelry, as well as customized jewelry. You can get all your jewelry needs met at Rananjay Exports – so don’t wait, order the jewelry you need and take your retail store to new heights.