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Easy way to make graduation rings

I have just received an order to make 100 graduation rings. However, I
am having difficulty carving the lettering on the wax model. Is there
an easy way to do this? Or is there any machine which can make this

Jewello Ltd.
Curtis Duhaney JAMAICA

     I have just received an order to make 100 graduation rings.
However, I am having difficulty carving the lettering on the wax
model. Is there an easy way to do this? Or is there any machine
which can make this easier. 

There is certainly an easy way: Make a cad/cam or 3d design of the
ring, have it output on a rapid prototype machine. Cast it, make a
mold then recast as many copies as you need. It easy, fast, accurate
and cost-effective.

Fady Sawaya

Aloha Curtis,

I am a Technical Representative / Trainer for Model Master. Our
advanced 3D modeling software and machinery solutions, can do the
job. Please contact me directly and I will do what I can to help.

Best Regards,

Christian Grunewald
Precision Modelmaking Technologies
(808) 622-9005
(808) 224-1115
Model Master

CAD/CAM is the easiest way to go. Not the less expensive though.

If the words are on a flat plane, or can be formed from a flat plane,
you might be able to get the words photo etched and make waxes from

A trick I developed a few years back for wording was to plot the
words on silver and etch them out. I had an old HP plotter that I
used. I took a ink pen, removed the tip and filling, and then
replaced it with an engraving point. I then used a drawing program,
in this case an old version of Freelance. to design the words. Once I
had the design down, I was ready to transfer it to a piece of silver.
I took a small sheet of silver that was big enough to contain the
words and coated it with black fingernail polish. I used black just
for the contrast. I then put the silver on a sheet of card stock that
fit the plotter using double sided Scotch tape, making sure it was
aligned over the area where the plotter would print. Then using the
special Ink Pin that I had made, I plotted out the words on the
silver. I had to change the default program settings to get a very
fine line spacing so it cut off all of the fingernail polish. I then
took the silver and did an acid etch. The results were great. I then
cut out the piece and formed it to the ring. In my case, this was a
one off. This would be a long process for 100 unique pieces.
However, if the wording was the same on all rings, it might work for
you if you could form the flat piece into the shape you needed. You
could do one and then make a mold from it.


Class rings can be easy or difficult to make and reproduce, depending
on the design. The models of such rings can be created using a cad/cam
system with a 4 axis milling machine. The top and bottom of the ring
are usually created as seperate parts depending on the depth and
complexity of the design.The type of design that is associated with
this process of model work and molding is rings that have very deep
letters and design .

If the design is deep and the lettering is deep with fine lines (
depth measured between the fine raised letters and lines)Then you are
most definitely looking at making the 2 parts in 2 metal molds .
These type of molds are injected on special machines developed
strictly for metal molds and cost about $4000 ( this is the cost of
the machine)The model and mold cost is not determinable without
seeing the artwork.

If you want to make a design that can be reproduced in a rubber mold,
then make sure to make the lettering and design shallow and with wider
lines and letters as wide as possible on the surface.The depth and
thinlettering are what is difficult to get out of a rubber mold for
many school,military and college rings.

If the top of the ring has a bezel for a stone as well as
lettering,then a model may not be neccessary to create as it can be
cad/cam or pantographed directly into a plate of aluminium ( flat
aluminium) then a back plate is created to fit the aluminium mold so
that when the top and back plate are assembled and a wax is injected
into the mold, the interior of the top is now hollowed out by the back
plate to reduce weight. In many cases, the rings are made in 2 parts
and usually done in metal molds. The shank which often times has deep
detail in the cavities is done in a metal mold, unless the detail is
not deep and complex.

It is easier to produce a school ring in a rubber mold system than
metal molds if certain parameters are carefully considered from the

We use both methods in our general production of such rings. If you
are trying to achieve the same results as seen in rings made by
Balfour company and Jostens, realize that these rings are done usually
with very deep lettering and are always done in metal molds.

I hope this is helpful in your projects.

Daniel Grandi Tel: 401-461-7803
from 10 am to 5 pm eastern standard time We do casting & finishing in
gold, silver, bronze , brass and pewter for people in the trade.

Fady, If the order you have for 100 class rings is a one-shot sale,
you may be better off having a trade shop which specializes in this do
the work. If you want to do it in your own shop we can put you in
touch with the proper people to buy the molds from, and teach you how
to carve these molds using CAD-CAM . Please call us and we’ll discuss
it further in depth.

Jack Van Dell

I have a company here in the Seattle, WA area called JewelTech. I
have two CNC mills, one set up for 4th. axis, and also a Solidscape
(previously Sanders) MM2. I have done quite a few Class Rings.
There are several ways to approach making these. If you want to
actually carve the ring, then you can have a detailed plate made with
the lettering on it that can either be attached in the wax and then
cast or cast separately and then soldered on. You can make a metal
mold and then have plastics injected (finest detail) and then cast
them, or you can totally have the ring designed in a 3-D CAD program
such as Solidworks, Rhino, or JewelCAD, see the ring before the model
is made on your computer screen, and then give the go-ahead or make
any modifications before it is ever made in the wax. Another way is
if you already have a ring, to have it 3-D scanned and a model made
from that. I offer these services if needed. Let me know if I can
be of any help. I am a Service Bureau for those needing this type of


Hello Curtis

You could also make the ring in metal in the shape you want and send
it to a hand engraver to engrave the designs and lettering you want
and then you can mold from that with a rubber mold. If you know a good
enough engraver, that is. It’s not quite as good as a metal mold like
the big companies all use and the lettering and designs won’t come out
as sharp, but it will work for you and a lot of jewelers use this
technique. These rings are usually made with a rotary pantograph
machine, by the old way or by CAD/CAM, which is the newer technology.
Usually these masters need to made in different sizes to accomodate
all of the different finger sizes, so there is also that to be
considered when looking at this issue. There is a class ring company
in New Jersey named Zolner or Zolnier although I don’t have the number
at hand. They are an independant company and one of the very few not
owned by Town and Country/ Talisman/Balfour and their prices are
pretty good. I used to do business with one of the sons who had a
class ring company here in Houston at one time. You could also get
someone like these guys to possibly make you one ring which you could
then use as a master, something I did once upon a time which worked
out well for me and my customer at the time. HTH

Best Regards-

Ricky Low, Hand Engraver
6222 Richmond Ave. Ste #783
Houston, Texas 77057-6220
ph.- 713.974.3710


I just saw your post on Orchid. I do wax carving with a 4 axis CNC
milling machine and might be able to help. If you could provide more
details of what you need I’ll be able to tell if it’s within my

Jeff Demand

Hello Fady,

By all means,this is intead really easy, but I think that most
amongst us do not have a CAD/CAM (so am I!!). For this reason I would
of chose for making one example and then duplicate this one with the
rubber (or others) mold technic. Another consideration would be by
making the example first and then get a hold on this low temperature
casting rubber.Follow the description on how the make the mold and
then make your duplicates out of pewter.From that point you can cast
them and recollect the pewter for further use.However, this kind of
work is related with some experience but everything is difficult
before it gets easy.

Regards Pedro

Curtis , John Zolnier can be contacted at


I waited awhile for this suggestion because it seems unusual. If it
works, it uses “easy” technology, not 3D CAM set ups.

I have been amazed at the detail that can be obtained from rubber
stamps. Crisp little letters floating on a nicely curved and textured
matrix. Could this technique be used to create the lettering required
for the graduation ring? It would mean laying out the lettering
accurately [I’d suggest a computer program that can manipulate text into arcs]. The image could be photo reduced and reversed so the
lettering on the ring would read correctly. Obviously a regular rubber
stamp uses a reverse image to do its job. This system would also allow
the original image to be reduced into the separate sizes that might be
required for a man’s or lady’s ring.

I say rubber stamp but I find that getting a true rubber stamp can be
costly. Rubber seems to be now reserved for the food trade [you
know-stamping USDA Prime on meat]. The current stamps are clear,
maybe a latex. Whatever, I believe it should burn out in the kiln.
This would allow the stamp to be cast as the original. That metal
original could then be used to create the 100 required rings.

Closely related to this technique would be to have the original
"stamp" fabricated in zinc. I believe this is the metal of choice for
images that are to be embossed or debossed in the stationery world.
The price would be greater but possibly more detail could be obtained.
Whether using rubber or zinc the whole process shouldn’t be costly and
you will be using people that deal with the techniques every day.

So…Has anyone tried this? Do you know of a reason why it
wouldn’t work?

Orchid Rules!..Karla

Karla, I don’t know if it will work for rings, but the concept is
valid. My father owns a laser engraver that he uses to engrave on
wood, plastic and glass. It is the same type of machine that custom
rubber stamp/ trophy shops use to make their wares. He has a very
good friend who is a jeweler and they experimented with a process very
similar to what you describe. At first they tried to engrave the
waxes directly, but the laser proved to be far to powerful even on the
lowest power settings. It just blasted right through it. However
they were able to make masters from laserable sign plastic. This is
the plastic used to make signs where the thin top layer is a
different color than the lower layer. This plastic burned out in the
kiln with no problem. They were using this technique to make hatpins
and ear rings with some amazing detail. If you were to use the
rubber stamp rubber I am sure that you could achieve curves very

Shane Morris

I do this when I want to have a piece with lettering or a picture in,
it is important to ask for a "right reading "otherwise you get a
reverse suitable for printing off. if you want to bend the shape ie a
ring or bangle you have to make a mould and cast into silver because
the zinc will crack if you try to bend it too far, you can also have
it etched into one of several different thicknesses. The company I use
are now doing etched plastic but I havent tried it yet.

Tim Blades.