Goldsmith techniques of Kristen Jones
There are three main ways that I produce my jewellery.
My training is with hand fabrication. According to European goldsmiths, this is the preferred method of gold smithing. The gold is alloyed, melted to molten metal and poured into ingot moulds —either in thick rods or rectangular ingots — to then form into wire or plate.
The wire is drawn, which means it is drawn through progressively smaller holes on a draw plate. The plate is rolled through a rolling mill until the desired thickness is achieved. The wire and plate is then formed using forging or hammering techniques, bending with pliers, cutting out shapes or lengths with a jeweller’s saw, sculpting and shaping with files. These pieces are soldered together using a torch and solder. This hand work is both painstaking and time-consuming, but is the only way to achieve the unique hand-crafted results that my clients are searching for.
Carved Wax Work
I use this method when I want a piece that is very detailed. Wax is much easier to carve tiny details into than metal. These pieces are made one at a time by hand. There is no reusable mould to reproduce many identical pieces. The carved wax original is placed in a mould material; heated to melt the wax out; then the molten metal is poured into the mould. Once the metal has cooled and hardened, the mould is broken to reveal the casting. This method, known as lost wax casting, is worthy of the expression “They broke the mould when they made you”!
Computer milled wax models
Like carved wax work, these pieces are also made one at a time, but once there is a computer file another identical piece can be made. I only occasionally use this method, but It has its uses and can be invaluable. Laser welding and computer-generated waxes are the only really new innovations in gold smithing in centuries.
Handmade jewellery and finishing work is done the old fashioned way — by hand. I am a dinosaur!
I do not cut gemstones. I have spent years developing connections with gem dealers who bring me goods from India, Brazil, Sri Lanka, and Africa. I work with an award winning local gem cutter, Lisa Elser, whose work is in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Museum. Lisa sources ethical rough material and also will custom cut gems for me as well as buying from her inventory of beautiful and unusual cuts.