Husband and wife team, Jana Reinhardt and Ross Cutting are janareinhardt.com creating handmade jewelry in the South of England. They specialize in bespoke, or commissioned pieces, and fine jewelry.
Jana and Ross have over 40 years experience in jewelry design and micro manufacture between them, long regarding jewelry making as an art form, eschewing CAD/CAM (computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing) in favor of the old methods of fabrication and wax carving.
While customers are largely concerned with the materials that constitute the finished article of jewelry they want to buy, Jana and Ross know the making process involves a much wider host of materials than you would first think.
Every item of Jana Reinhardt jewelry begins its journey when Jana carves the master pattern in hard green casting wax – this can take hours depending on how intricate the piece is. “Our brand is famed for its stylized animal pieces, which means Jana needs to use a wax that gives excellent strength, even when carved into extremely fine shapes. It is very crisp and clean to work with,” according to Ross Cutting.
“She uses soft pink wax for sprues (the channels that the metal will later pour down during casting), or if she wants a softer, more organic, putty-like feel to the surface of the piece she is creating. The wax is carved with dentist tools and joined with a heat pen. To clean the waxes, she normally uses a soft make up brush and paraffin on cotton wool. This removes any filings, or fine dust and leaves the carving with a smooth, even, polished surface.”
Once Jana is totally happy with the carving, it is sent off to an external company to be cast.
Occasionally, if something needs to be made in a hurry, Jana will carve into Fine Milliput – an air drying clay. It is super fine and trickier to work with, because you only have limited time before it starts to harden. It has the advantage of setting very hard, making it strong enough to use as a master pattern that can be cast from in the studio, using casting sand. This is a quicker process, as it can all be done in house – rather than being sent off for lost wax casting.
Once the pattern is finished and depending on whether we are making a bespoke ring, paperweight or a simple silver design, it is cast into gold, silver, platinum, palladium, bronze or brass.
The casting comes back and is processed to a fine finish, before being combined with different materials, such as semi-precious or precious gemstones, glass enamel, wood, or fabric. We sometimes use chemical patinas or plating solutions to change the color of the metal, if this is what the design requires.
A very complex piece might combine several of these materials, and would require a whole range of different processes to be applied to it to create the finished item. The metals and precious stones you see in a piece of jewelry are not the full story, many other materials must be used to create every item we make.
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