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Casting vs. handmade in luxury jewelry


#1

I have been asked a question that I cannot answer. This has been
asked by a local publication doing an article about jewelry.

Here’s the question - For luxury jewelry what is the percentage of
cast vs. handmade jewelry?

I know these processes are not necessarily exclusive, so I would
consider it one or the other but name it by which processes are used
most in the making. I am having trouble finding this answer and can
only guess at this time. Where might I find this answer? If you
know, where did you learn it?

Megin
Megin Diamond Designs
Baltimore


#2

perhaps 90 % of regular retail outlets sell cast jewelry that is
stone set on site, more commonly than “jewellery stores” reselling
pre- finished pieces: that is cast jewellry that comes set and
polished, Leaving only inscriptions to be added in the store (
although I would venture that if that is the sort of “jeweler” is
operating a store selling those products, they probably didn’t
invest in the engraving equipment either, outsourcing that service
too. These stores operate on a triple key pricing plan and the
jewellry is the costliest.

Independent jewellers are more likely to completely design and
fabricate all their inventory. though some pieces are cast, this is
usually done in house, or potentially models are made and sent to a
casting service, but in smaller lots. Complete handwork ( i. e.
forged, fabricated, stone set and finished by a metalsmith/ jeweler
) is done for collections, design lines, and one-off custom made
pieces are ususally taken on by commission or as art jewellery. It is
clear when one looks in chain jewellery retailers case’s; all the
stores have the same pieces as they come from the same major
competitors catalogues, and/or are purchased in great quantity at the
same wholesale or industry trade shows that cater to that type of
reselling. Many of the higher end jewellery retailers, like locally
owned enduring businesses with a widely known reputation may make as
much as 40% or higher of their own inventory. Many add in some of
their own custom work ( particularly bridal jewellery as work of
that type alone may generate enough income to validate a “real"
goldsmith/metalsmith’s salary or else they utilise a goldsmith or
jewelry design and fabrication house for this service ), or have an
"exclusive” contract with a designer for pieces of a specific line
or collection that is not available anywhere else in a clearly
defined radius to the locale. This allows for some variations to be
requested in the pieces such as materials, stones, finish, etc. which
can generally be accommodated by the manufacturing jeweler
/metalsmith and help that store owner meet the price points he or she
finds sell best in that location. If you want to be dead on in
quoting facts on independent vs. retail jewellery sales there are a
number of industry websites you can research to find out the details
you want to present to the publication that sparked your question ion
the first place.

I believe this is the general gist of you are looking
for - not whether the argument that even all cast jewellery starts
out handmade from a designer’s model to be further cast by the
millions, or fabricated as a one- off (that is a unique, and
one-of-a-kind piece) made solely at the bench by generally, one
person of mill products connected either hot or cold, and embellished
in “x” way… If I can be of further assistance please feel free to
contact me off list. regards, rer


#3
Here's the question - For luxury jewelry what is the percentage of
cast vs. handmade jewelry? Well, Megin first you have to define
luxury jewelry..... Modern casting - centrifugal or vacuum - dates
from 1900 or something. 

I recall that Jim Binnion once pinned down a date, but I don’t
remember it. Work dating from before that time was mostly all
fabricated. (I’m not going to use the term “hand-made”). So there’s
that. When you talk about the likes of Cartier and Boucheron, well
they are neither snobs nor fools when it comes to jewelry making.
Look up “Cartier stomachers” which is the original Cartier garland
style.

They look like sheet metal but most all of them were cast and then
extensively worked. They just don’t LOOK cast, but they were because
it was economical. A friend of mine showed me some earrings he made
for Boucheron in platinum - “Well, I made one original setting,
molded it and cast them…” So they are one piece, no solder,
and absolutely identical in every way. Cast the casting work,
fabricate the fabrication work and don’t get all nervous about
it…

Another friend is now a salesman at Graff but he was at Cartier
before. “It’s boring, everything’s computerized and it all looks
like car parts…”. But a great deal of it is fabricated,
nonetheless. It depends on what’s right for the job. Percentages?
Who knows? I’d guess about 50-50.


#4

Could we please have R.E. Rourke’s post on this as the last word on
the subject and move on ? Maybe the moderator could step in and put
this thread to rest ? The archives are jammed to moon and back with
opinions and points of view about what “hand made” is. For pity’s
sake, by now everyone has had the opportunity to get their two cents
in.


#5

This whole argument that has been discussed many times on this group
just cracks me up.

I do both, hand carve waxes and cast as well as hand fabricate and
have been doing both since the 1970’s. I think each application has
its place and both deserve respect.

If you go into an Art gallery and view bronze statues that have been
cast in limited production the creator is considered an Artist. View
an equally wonderful carving that has been cast as a ring, pendant
etc. and it looses respect by those that only do hand fabrication
work…

The only thing that this argument accomplishes is to put some types
of jewelry in a bad light for the very people that purchase our
work. Why not praise good design, technique and finish to the buying
public and elevate all well made jewelry and jewelers to the status
of the sculpture artist in the publics eye.

Greg DeMark
natureinspiredjewelry.com


#6
The archives are jammed to moon and back withopinions and points
of view about what "hand made" is. For pity's sake, by now
everyone has had theopportunity to get their two cents in. 

Yeah, Goo. This particular thread about luxury jewelry has some other
merit, maybe. The other one about hand-made I don’t even read. At
all…