Don’t Buy Hand-Made Engagement Rings
There is a romance in buying a hand-made engagement ring. But when it comes to quality, you can be paying a lot more and getting a lot less.
And while there is a strong association between ethical and hand-made jewellery, this is definitely not the case. Ethical jewellery is about supply chain and labour conditions. How an engagement ring is made is to do with its method (cast vs hand-made).
What is cast jewellery?
Modern cast or ‘Lost wax cast’ jewellery is designing and making a piece of jewellery with the support of computer software and 3D printers.
First, specialist jewellery designers create a 3D CAD model of a piece of jewellery. Then the model is then 3D printed in a special wax. The wax is taken, covered in plaster, and heated in a furnace. The heat melts away the wax and the plaster becomes a mould to pour the molten metal into. Once the metal is cooled, the plaster is removed and the metal is cleaned up and polished by a jeweller and the gemstones can then be set by a stone setter.
This technique of lost wax casting has been around for thousands of years! The only difference is that previously the wax was carved by hand, whereas now the wax is 3D printed from a computer model.
What is the difference between cast and hand-made jewellery?
The process for making handmade jewellery is completely different. It starts with a jeweller working with the metal without models and moulds. The metal typically comes in wires or sheets. And through the process of cutting, hammering and shaping, the ring starts to take shape. When the ring is considered complete, it is polished and the gemstones can then be set.
Why is cast jewellery better than hand-made jewellery?
There are so many reasons why cast jewellery, especially for engagement rings is better than going for handmade.
You get a better finish with cast jewellery
If you are designing your own ring, you are much better off getting your engagement ring done via casting. This will ensure you get *exactly* what you want. And because it is first designed digitally, you can manipulate millimetres for it to show on the final product. This is less likely to be the case with hand-made engagement rings.
Hand-made jewellery can be inconsistent
People make hand-made jewellery. And when you are dealing with millimetres, there is a propensity to make mistakes. And fair enough. Being able to pick up on little design flaws at such levels is extremely difficult. But this can have a large bearing on how much smaller gemstones jut out from ribs, especially with pavé (small diamonds that typically run down the band of a ring). This is easy to spot with the naked eye and can leave you disappointed.
Cast jewellery is more affordable
Casting makes the process of making jewellery a lot easier. Hand-made jewellery is complex and requires a lot of hours and skill. Time and skill come with an associated price. Depending on the complexity of your design, hand-made jewellery can be a lot more expensive than getting it made via casting.
The finish of hand-made depends on the jeweller
Getting hand-made jewellery requires placing a lot of trust in your jeweller. And if you are buying an engagement ring, you want to make sure you get it right. Using cast ensures that you get a perfect finish every time.
Should you consider hand-made jewellery?
At Four Words, all of our rings are casted for the reasons above. There are some supposed limitations of cast jewellery that are no longer true as technology has become better over time.
Porosity within castings is a solved problem
In the early days of casting, there was a tendency for air bubbles to form as the molten metal was being poured. When this happens at the claws, it can create a weakness. This increases the likelihood of them snapping. But the technology around casting has improved dramatically and this is now seldom the case, especially when using modern techniques like at Four Words.
Hand-made is stronger, but cast rings are strong enough
There is an argument that hand-made rings are stronger than cast rings. This is true. But this does not mean that cast rings are weak. Hand-made rings are only relatively stronger and considering everyday wear, the likelihood of a cast ring breaking is incredibly low. Hand-made is marginally lower. At Four Words, we don’t believe it is worth the cost or decrease in consistency
Why do boutique stores push hand-made engagement rings?
If you do a quick Google Search on casting vs hand-made, you will come across lots of articles that have a bias toward hand-made jewellery. Why? Because the jewellers can charge you more. Many jewellers claim rarity and craftsmanship. But casting still requires design and craftsmanship, just in a different way — like around the design of your piece and ensuring that it is exactly what you want. There is also a romance of using casts. Even Michelangelo used castings for his most famous sculpture — David.
Does hand-made jewellery make it ethical?
The question of ethics is separate from the method of making a piece of jewellery. At Four Words we are painfully aware of this. It is, for this reason, most of our jewellery is cast in New Zealand. We also only work with lab grown gemstones and we are climate positive five times over.
Working with Four Words
We want to make sure your ring is absolutely perfect. It is, for this reason, we run a bespoke service where you can design your engagement ring and leave all the technical work to us. We only work with the top 2% of diamonds in the world and pick the best diamonds that the eye can see. We only move to make your ring until you are happy with the designs.
So if you are ready to get started on your journey, reach out to us to get your designs started.
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