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Casting in a silver model first

Hi everyone, this may be a novice question, but I read an article
about a jeweler who gets her stones custom cut, each stone is
uniquely shaped. Then she draws up the designs and makes the
first-round piece in silver and then the final piece is cast in 18k
gold. Does she do the first -round piece in silver in order to make
tweaks and modifications to make sure it’s perfect before it is cast
in gold? I’m just curious. My first reaction after reading the
article was that it seemed like a waste of materials (i.e. silver),
especially since it would be cast only once and then the silver would
have to be re-melted or whatever in order to use again (??).

Also, it seemed to me like a waste of time, especially if it is for
a unique piece not intended to be made in the same way for the same
shaped stones again. But, I suppose it is better to make
modifications in silver rather than gold…

Maybe I have already answered my own questions here, but I’d love to
hear your thoughts.


Jennifer-When I am fabricating something complicated, I’ll make a
silver or copper model first. If I want to make multiples, like say
a pair of earrings that have to match perfectly, I’ll make a silver
model and mold it and then cast in gold or platinum.

Have fun and make lots of jewelry.
Jo Haemer

Jennifer, I often make my masters out of silver, pop a mold and drop
the master into a box marked MASTERS. If at some later date I loose
the mold or want to modify the piece I have the master to work from.
It also allows you to discover any design flaws or casting problems
that might develop. The cost is just a few dollars (at today’s
prices) and can always be recovered at a later date if necessary.

Hi Jen,

She’s probably making a vulcanized mold from the ‘first round’ silver
piece. Brass/bronze react with the vulcanizing rubbers and give a
slightly cruddy surface to the mold walls, while silver doesn’t. When
I was doing a lot of production work, I did the same thing: rough it
in wax, cast it in silver, then clean the silver so that it’s
perfect, polish & etc. Then make a mold, and cast it in the final
metal. Doing it that way lets you get a much crisper look than you’d
normally get by going straight from wax to the final casting.

It’s partly a factor of what material the person is most comfortable
working in. Some people work on nailing the wax, and go from there,
some people (like me) would rather get it into metal where we can get
our hands on it, and then clean it up. Having it in metal also lets
you do things like soldering on sheets, plates and wires, in ways
that (to my mind) are much quicker than fussing with trying to fake
it in wax. But then again, I’m a metal smith, so it stands to
reason that I’d prefer metal to wax.

For whatever that’s worth.


I’ll make a piece two, three, six, seven times until I know it is
the very best I can make. I know a jeweler who makes a model for
everything she makes. It seems to be this is a common practice for a
unique piece.

Best, MA

Thank you everybody for your answers. I appreciate it!