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Cast verses fabricated


#1

Hi all,

I make jewellery for a hobby, so I don’t really know the answer to
my following question:

They say that fabricated jewellery is worth more than cast
jewellery. Therefore if I take a ring or a piece of jewellery to a
Jeweller for a valuation, how can the Jeweller tell if it’s cast or
fabricated?

Regards Allan.


#2

Try
https://orchid.ganoksin.com/t/can-a-cast-piece-match-handmade


#3

I would agree with relative values only in the case where there is a
compelling reason to fabricate. If one fabs an item that can just as
effectively be cast, I see no justification for a higher value
because the fabbed is competing with the cast, and THAT determines
value (which should be differentiated from asking price)…
alternatives within the parameters. Usually one would fab because
some attribute of fabbed work is desired, or the piece cannot be made
any other way. This does not consider goodwill which is a different
matter entirely. Make your name, make the item the way you want, make
the price you want.

Therefore if I take a ring or a piece of jewellery to a Jeweller
for a valuation, how can the Jeweller tell if it's cast or
fabricated? 

By looking. There are usually telltale signs. The most obvious would
be parting lines in the case of some castings. Solder seams other
than major component assembly suggest fabbed.


#4

any jeweler worth his or her salt can identify a casting from a
handmade (fabricated) piece. Castings are often more detailed and
heavier than hand fabricated jewelry.bangles may be the exception
though a quick spray of solder join revealer can identify the join
in handmade bracelets.Valuation requires a working knowledge of
modern metalsmiths and art jewelers and their marks - as there has
been a" boom", so to speak, in the sheer number of jewelers working
over the past say, 30 years some now deceased or no longer producing
that to identify all would be near impossible. Also there is a lot of
student art out there as well and copies of both professional and
student work from manufacturers without scruples, mostly from [],
where the laws are in the businesses favour and they are given free
reign to steal often un-copyrighted but clearly original and
identifiable ( or traceable ) designs makes it hard in some instances
to identify a true art jewelry piece from a fake/copy…even Tiffany
NY designer lines of sterling are being sold as originals worldwide-
they are castings by the way- ( and are in litigation that has been
going on at least 5 years stemming from eBay sales losses Tiffany&
Co. NY,has dealt with).Nonetheless, castings are easy to spot with a
trained eye. valuing a piece is another matter and one should always
get a couple of estimates particularly if you are thinking of
selling, the insurance estimates should be closer from one jewelr to
another and stone weight, cut and clarity as well as weight of
precious metal and/or non-precious metal as well as who the designer
is are all factors that would come into consideration in appraising
any piece.If you care to send me a picture of a piece off list I will
be happy to identify it for you and if possible name the maker ( if
you do send a picture try to get any maker’s mark in the shot or just
describe or draw it for me).I can sometimes go from a description if
you can’t send a photo but its far easier to look at the piece
through an image… rer


#5
They say that fabricated jewellery is worth more than cast
jewellery. Therefore if I take a ring or a piece of jewellery to a
Jeweller for a valuation, how can the Jeweller tell if it's cast
or fabricated? 

Perhaps the geometry/morphology (is that the right word?) of the
piece? If you look at many pieces, you can often tell if a piece is
fabricated, as you can identify the various elements used in its
construction, ie various profiles of wire and sheet soldered
together to form a 3D structure. They range from very simple, to very
complex constructions (see Leonid’s eternity ring). Then there are
some pieces, which are so organic in nature, that they look as though
they couldn’t possibly have been fabricated, so would more than
likely have been cast. Then there are other pieces which have been
fabricated and then carved, like carving in wax, but carved directly
in metal, so they might not be so easy to tell apart. But I would
think that a very experienced eye would be able to tell the
difference between cast and fabricated.

The above is just my interpretation of the answer to the question. I
may be off the mark and sure someone will tell me if that’s the
case.

Helen
UK


#6

Allan,

Things are not that simple. Cast jewelry can be as if not more
expensive than forged pieces.

Each method has its optimal application and some sculptural pieces
will always be more delicate and expressive by carving and casting.
A classic prong setting will always be both stronger and more
beautiful if properly hand forged to give obvious exemples.

Good quality Renaissance jewelry, Art Nouveau jewelry as well as some
Faberge, Belperron, Boivin or JAR pieces are among the most expensive
jewelry that I can think of if you consider workmanship prices for
equal amount of metal. Most of them include cast elements or are
fully cast pieces.

If you go to Christies’ or Sotherby’s website you might get an idea
of the prices realized by some of these pieces. I have seen some Art
Nouveau pieces for instance with an intrinsic value of less than $
10,000.-- bring up prices way over $ 1,000,000.-- They were
partially cast pieces.

Quality is the the determining factor here, not the fabrication
method. I actually see a lot of mediocre and poorly forged pieces
every day that are true eye sores and I would pay more for a quality
cast piece that has been well cleaned and finished.

I also see “hand made” pieces in well known jewelery stores that are
good castings in my opinion but castings nevertheless…

Cyrille


#7

somethin’ else to consider, if fab was so easy or the same as cast
nobody would cast. Fab is one at a time, cast is many at a time.


#8

But is not a piece “cast” having a LOT of “hand made” activity in
them??? Maybe not for mass produced cast items, but for something
of dozens or even some hundreds of pieces, there is still a LOT of
"hand made" within them. Fabricated items still “use” lots of “mass
produced” items and/or materials. Ditto with cast items… So where
does one draw the line and call an item one or the other???

Once you figure out where your work is/your are, using/working
via either method can produce absolutely fantastic pieces but either
method can also be used to produce absolute JUNK. It is the artist/
maker/produces/what ever you want to call it/them that actually
"MAKES" the art or the junk. It is NOT the method/process that makes
a piece be “art”, it is the skill/knowledge/capability/artistic
ability that makes the piece a piece of fine art…

John Dach


#9
Quality is the the determining factor here, not the fabrication
method. I actually see a lot of mediocre and poorly forged pieces
every day that are true eye sores and I would pay more for a
quality cast piece that has been well cleaned and finished. 

Yes, quality is the overriding factor. We do having this discussion
from time to time. Casting vs fabrication is meaningless, unless the
same design is compared.

The insight can be gained if we look into motivation behind the
choice of technique. Problem with casting is not some built in
inferiority, but improper application. Most of the time, casting is
used to save on labour cost, without any regard to the effect on
quality and it is this practice that gave the technique it’s bad
name.

On another hand, we should not assume that price and quality goes
together. I have seen very expensive pieces with atrocious quality,
so price is not an indication of anything, except that in some cases
it is in inverse relationship with the intellect of a prospective
client.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#10

While excellent work can be made by casting it is important to
remember that the prime reason to cast is to make something faster,
easier and cheaper than the similar item fabricated. Most mass
produced jewelry goods are made by casting and the whole point here
is to make it for as little cost as possible.

James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


#11

It’s always a matter of using the appropriate techniques to make
what we choose to make and express what we wish to express in our
work. Although I have made, and will again make fabricated pieces
most of my work is made using investment casting because it suits
the organic style of much of my work. Although I use some rubber
moulding make repetition elements, most of my work is firstly
sculpted in wax and then cast from the original pattern so that each
piece unique.

I agree that casting is used for a lot of mass produced jewellery
but forging, rolling, stamping, die cutting, soldering, welding,
riveting and jig fabrication is also used because casting does not
suit all forms or stages of mass production either.

It is rather tedious to put a value judgement on a particular
technique. The only relevant questions whether it’s appropriate for
purpose it was used and integral to the integrity of the work.

BTW The rubber mould I made using the LiquaGlass worked just fine
with the wax injector after a few handfuls of hot wax. The castings
will make a set links for a silver necklace I expect I might make one
or two other pieces from the mould and then move on to something
else.

All the best
Jennny


#12

Casting can also produce an object that cannot be made by other
means. The casting in metal (or other materials) of organics–replica
casting-- can yield wonderful objects.

While using cast organics as the total end product may by some be
considered dated, incorporating cast organic elements (or any cast
element) in a fabricated piece can produce a powerful effect.

Even beginning with a replica casting, say an invested, burned out
and cast twig, and then forging portions of that cast twig can be
great: Using the cast element as a starting point and extending the
basic form without adding anything to it.

I have used cast organics-- prickly pear skeleton, for instance-- as
an element in many pieces. Casting the organic in gold and
fabricating the bulk of the piece in bronze or sterling.

Like PMC, CAD/CAM, spinning, water jet cutting or welding with a
lazer casting is part of the tool box and can be an effective
component of a more extensive piece. It need not be only a means to
faster and cheaper production.

Take care, Andy


#13

Hi Leonid,

Yes, quality is the overriding factor. We do having this
discussion from time to time. Casting vs fabrication is
meaningless, unless the same design is compared. 

I’m still working on replicating your design, turns out that I’m
having a few technical difficulties.

My software is not talking nicely with their software, it’s a pain,
and I have to work it out for future projects. I sent them a test
model (that someone else had made), but when their software read it,
there were holes all over the place. Possibly just a design error on
the original modellers part, but I haven’t ruled out software
incompatibility yet :frowning:

The guys now have a 16 micron wax printer, which is okay, and the
wax models they have presented to me are quite fine with high
detailed, very interesting stuff.

A single ring would cost around the $50 mark, however a double ring
goes over $200… for the wax alone.

Definitely a learning experience. I’ll keep you in the loop.

Regards Charles A.


#14

Hi James,

While excellent work can be made by casting it is important to
remember that the prime reason to cast is to make something
faster, easier and cheaper than the similar item fabricated. Most
mass produced jewelry goods are made by casting and the whole point
here is to make it for as little cost as possible. 

I will agree with you that a lot of castings are done for mass
production reasons, however there are always exceptions to the rule.

I was thinking about this today as I was going over the works of one
of my favorite artists, Geiger, and thought it would be nice to have
a bio-mechanical style ring. I considered carving a ring out of metal
to get all those intricate shapes, but thought that I could do a
better job carving a wax model by hand. If I cut off too much wax I
can just add more, whereas if I cut off too much metal, that would be
a minor inconvenience.

I think for one off sculptural type jewellery, casting is a very
good option.

Just another thing, I saw a skull ring fabricated by hand, and
another cast… the hand made piece was more abstract, and the cast
piece was more anatomically correct… both looked great :slight_smile:

Regards Charles A.


#15

Another for reason for creating items by casting is to produce
textures and designs that would be difficult if not impossible to
create with fabrication.

It takes too long of a time cycle for an artist to cast their own
work. It takes a long time to create the wax, sprue it, investing
it, go through the burn out cycle, cast it, remove the investment,
cut the sprues, grinding the sprues down and polish it.

If a design can be made by fabrication it should be fabricated. If a
piece is to be mass produced a mold and future production pieces can
be made from most fabricated pieces.

Improper casting processes can destroy a fine wax creation. However
there are mold compounds that can be use to make a mold from a wax
piece before casting it.

Lee Epperson


#16

I guess I really don’t get it. As a person who fabricates silver
jewelry and often also casts jewelry when it seems appropriate, I
can’t understand why you would not consider a cast piece as hand
made. The wax model I “fabricate” requires design time as well as
hand time. It also takes a unique set of skills. Then the cast piece
must be cleaned and finished by hand. I have more fun with direct
fabrication but casting is one of my modes of work. Perhaps the “down
the nose” look at cast pieces is because people make multiples or buy
ready-made waxes. I don’t do that (or haven’t to date). The value of
a work should be determined by its unique design and excellence of
execution. Yes, I know. This may seem naive to you but it is what I
believe and how I work. gv

N. B. versus not verses


#17
I will agree with you that a lot of castings are done for mass
production reasons, however there are always exceptions to the
rule. 

Oh yes you can always construct exceptions to rules. But if you got
to any mass market retail outlet for jewelry over 90% of the jewelry
there will be cast with the remainder assembled from die struck
components. You will be highly unlikely to find anything fabricated
from sheet and wire it is just too expensive to train people to
fabricate and too slow a process. Yes you can find work from places
like Bali that is production fabricated but that type of work is
getting harder and harder to find. It is just so much cheaper to
make a master, mold and cast it.

The creative craft jeweler and artist can use the ease and freedom
of carving wax to greatly speed the production of unique and
beautiful items. But a sufficiently skilled craftsperson can do
exactly the same thing directly in metal. Even those organic shapes
others have referred to, even extremely accurate recreations of
organic living objects can be done directly in metal. The reason it
is not often done is it is way slower and takes a level of skill that
is very time consuming to acquire. So I again contend that the main
reason to cast jewelry is that is is cheaper and faster. Is one
better than the other? that is a value judgement.

James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


#18

I guess I’m going to wade into this one…

I suppose that if you wanted to compare the technical superiority of
fabrication over casting, you could do so. Using test equipment, you
could determine that fabricated metal might be denser and stronger
than cast metal, but that distinction is not always so important to
the finished result.

As Andy Cooperman just wrote, casting, as well as any other means of
creating jewelry, should serve as one more valuable technique in our
ever-evolving vocabulary as metalsmiths.

We all have our preferences as to what techniques we find the most
valuable, and how jewelry should look, in our own opinion.

If we have an idea of what we would like to see envisioned
3-dimensionally, we hopefully have the skills we need to achieve that
goal. If we need more skills to build what we design, then we try to
learn those skills, and practice, practice, practice. That is why we
hunger to know what others in our field are doing, and how they are
doing it. We attend conferences and workshops, and buy books about
technique.

Guiding students to create a finished product of their own design,
using their own hands, decisions need to be made on the best methods
to help them realistically achieve their goals.

Sometimes a design calls for fabrication, and they can create their
own sheet and wire stock in our studio for that purpose.

If the design just cannot realistically be created by fabricating,
then casting, or other methods are employed to get the best result. I
have a student who was formerly a concept car designer with a
Detroit car company. Her work is so evolved and complicated in the
forms she designs, I just can’t conceive of how her complicated
curvilinear designs could be achieved any other way than by carving
wax components and casting them, and later soldering them together.

I never feel as though fabrication might be “better” than casting,
just that one or the other( or a combination of techniques ) might be
better for this one particular project…

Jay Whaley


#19
The value of a work should be determined by its unique design and
excellence of execution. Yes, I know. This may seem naive to you
but it is what I believe and how I work. gv N. B. versus not verses 

Or, as I like to put it, “CAST VERSUS FABRICATED, THE MOTION
PICTURE!”

There is no conflict, there is no (useful) discussion to be had,
really. As many have said - notably Andy, lately - they’re just ways
of making things. We do special order, and it’s my job on a daily
basis: “This gets cast, that gets fabricated.” Often they are cast
and then fabricated - there is no line, there is no black and white
or right and wrong. The re is only optimization of time and labor -
getting the best product to market in the best way.

You have an order to make a custom tennis bracelet with 40 units
hinged together. The ~right~ way to do that is to make one or two
links, mold them and then cast the whole bracelet from those molds.
Saying, “But I can make 40 links all identical if I want to” is
laudable but profoundly foolish at the same time. They ~cannot~ be as
identical as molded parts, not to mention the 1000 solder seams it
will have. And the wasted 200 hours while you tinker with it at the
bench. And that you can make another one next week, if you want to.
And, And, And.

There is no black and white - only gray.


#20
But a sufficiently skilled craftsperson can do exactly the same
thing directly in metal. Even those organic shapes others have
referred to, even extremely accurate recreations of organic living
objects can be done directly in metal. 

Sorry, Jim. I think that you are just plain wrong on this. There is
a quality to a replicant casting that isn’t really translatable, I
think.

There may be a person out there who can replicate the
microstructures and micro-surfaces of cast organics but that would
indeed be the exception to the rule.

Andy