Real handmade jewellery vs machine made hand assembled jewellery

You may hear me talk about how my work is hand fabricated, handmade, artisan, or handcrafted. I will sometimes throw in the most overused and possibly misunderstood word in the industry “ bespoke” for good measure.

I have always handmade my work, from start to finish, from the design sketch to the final item.

For me, the making or journey is just as important as the final product and gives connection and grounding to the end result, not to mention greater control over the end quality.

Personally, I feel the jewellery industry needs to be more transparent in its processes, so you the customer is aware of what you are actually purchasing.

I often see large jewellery companies on social media talking about their “handcrafted jewellery”, when in reality it’s only hand-assembled and more often than not entirely designed and manufactured on a computer then a long assembly line, or sent overseas for cheap labour and final construction.

In truth, their jewellery is not even made in Australia or New Zealand but rather only ‘designed” ( trust me I know many well-known designers and jewellery labels that get everything churned out in Bali. They will try to keep it under wraps, but it’s often on the small print of their websites.)

To me, that is so sly and dishonest. If a couple are buying a handmade wedding rings, they should be that, made by hand.

And yes, occasionally we ourselves will outsource a local setter to set the gems into our pieces if they ( the gems) have challenging cuts and are slightly above our skill set because I want to supply the best product to you the customer I possibly can!

But apart from using a highly experienced diamond setter, everything is created in-house using traditional techniques mixed with lost wax casting.

I use casting in my work as it enables me to build solid, organic, feminine pieces that have a warm flow – crafting each piece individually in wax and then casting only one time ( so everything is a “one-off” ) .

I or we ( Dean and I, my Hubby ) then hand finish each piece by hand, filing and polishing – and if it’s a ring making the centre as buttery smooth as humanly possible!

Dean then carefully drills the gem placement using various burrs, setting the stones carefully and methodically in one by one using a microscope.

He then carefully checks everything is secure and using a graver ( a very sharp pointed tool ) finishes each stone in every piece.

So what is CAD?

CAD (Computer Aided Design) is a process where you can design a jewellery item on a computer and send the file that has been created off to a 3D wax printing machine or company.

The machine will print layers of wax on top of itself until it has created the whole piece of jewellery in wax.

The new CAD wax will then be placed into investment plaster to create a mould of the jewellery, let us say a ring.

Once the plaster has been set hard, the wax is burnt out and another machine heats the mould up and then pours the melted gold or platinum into the mould which then creates a piece identical to what was on the computer.

This is known as CAD casting or mass-production jewellery.

This means a company can produce large volumes of work in an ongoing process, and create identical pieces – or pieces that look the same apart from say a different coloured gem or different coloured metal.

All the jeweller needs to do is clean the casted jewellery, and set in any diamonds or other gems.

So why choose handmade over CAD?

Apart from the cookie cutter look of CAD jewellery, it often holds deeper issues such as pitting in the casting due to poor quality control, settings that are too thin to hold stones in properly, ring bands that use so little metal or are so hollow they buckle and break with everyday wear.

By choosing a handmade piece of jewellery from an Artisan jeweller you will never have the same as everyone else, because even if a design style is replicated it will never be EXACTLY the same due to our methods.

It will be made with methodical care, time and love.

It will hold its value and be a cherished future heirloom.

I have never used CAD and never shall, my work is truly handmade “imperfectly perfect” solid, durable and always made with the utmost care and skill.

This is jewellery to last a lifetime, not just a season.

“While creating jewellery, there is a very intimate relationship with my work. I know every curve and line (is) put there with intention. As a maker, your energy goes into the piece.”

                                                                  DEBRA FALLOWFIELD