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Cost Of making Master Patterns


Hi All

A couple of posts about what to charge for making master patterns
missed the point I think.

when making a standard hand made piece of jewellery there are a
number of hopefully obvious things to consider regarding form and
quality. when making a master pattern the specifications require a
more technical approach. Only experience and a lot more training can
help you understand this. You have to take into account shrinkage of
the ring and settings so that your stones will still fit and finger
size will be correct. A higher level of skill and understanding of
manufacturing process’s is required if you want your end result to
be of good quality. i’ve seen a lot of master patterns that are a
pain to clean up, polish and set because the pattern maker did not
use his brain. A clever pattern maker can decrease the labour content
and increase quality of a casting by the way they construct the
master. Even simple things like putting locking pins on settings
where they contact a ring so you dont have to fiddle around trying to
hold them in place while you solder them. Some masters I make I put a
very slightly convex surface where i want a flat one because a flat
surface often casts slightly concave. The placement and even the
shape of a sprue can make a lot of difference to how the metal flows
into the flask. Some patterns i’ve seen have a very untidy join to
the sprue. If you have jagged edges on a master you will have the
same on the investment when its cast, this can result in very thin
pieces of investment(a bit like flashing on a casting) these can
break off as the metal flows in and they end up near the top of your
casting embedded in the metal. For those who still have not got it
Good Masters can save large manufacturers 100s of labour hours per

Phil W


I’ve only seen one message in this thread, but I can tell you that I
quit making models for other people years ago. It’s very simple -
they don’t want to pay for them. If you make an engagement ring with
a little flair thing as a special order, it might take 6 hours or
something - even 2 hours. It will take the better part of a week, as
a model. If there’s a little dip in the shank of the special, you
can just fake it - if it’s a model you have to repair it - every
little thing has to be perfect, and measured, and straight, and then
the customer sees it and says, “Oh, nice - You want $500 for a SILVER
ring?!?!” That is, they think it’s a silver ring, when it’s actually
not, it’s a model - theoretically perfect. Blaaaaaaahh!



To me that’s a “custom” job- which gives the customer a “one-of-a-
kind” piece. Which is what I tell the customer when they start to
balk at the price. I also recommend that they go with gold for a
custom piece unless they have their heart set on silver. If you’re
gonna pay for a custom piece, you might as well go with gold. I price
a lot of people out (custom starts at $250, and that’s only for
altering a current design from a mold), but I can’t work for
peanuts! Some customers just don’t understand the cost of a “one-of-
a-kind” piece, and many do. So I treasure the ones that do and treat
them like gold.