|THE PROCESS PAGE|
When we get an image of a new badge to be created, either from an individual or from a department, we send it to the "art" department, better known as Dave's Cave.
We get the actual badge image, and begin to create it from scratch, or modify an existing similar badge, to recreate the ordered badge pendant as near to the original as possible.
Before any work is done, we take either a deposit or payment in full.
It takes anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours to create a badge in this format.
The machine cuts with detailed precision. This technology and detail wasn't available to us just a few short years ago. This machine is what allows us to make your miniature badge pendant or ring with such intricate detail.
Once the cutting is complete, each individual wax is cleaned closely to be sure the final casting is smooth on each edge. Steve trims each wax by hand.
He can "trim & tree" up to 10 badges an hour.
Once the artwork is finished, David and Raul transfer a "tool path" to the Model Master CNC Milling Machine where the badge is precisely cut into a wax block. What is left is a very detailed master wax. Each cutting can take anywhere from 45 minutes to 9 hours per wax depending on detail and size of piece.
Each wax is then sprued to a wax tree so it can be cast together in a flask that contains either all silver or gold pieces. It is important to allow adequate space between each badge so the liquid gold or silver can flow freely. Each tree usually holds up to 12- 15 badges depending on size.
The "tree" is then set up in a flask tightly. The air tight seal at the bottom can be the difference between a perfect badge or a melted mess.
The investment must be carefully calculated and weighed then added to precisely the right amount of water to make the perfect setting solution.
The investment is poured into the flask and vacuumed to remove any possible air bubbles. Even a tiny air bubble could cause badge details to be unreadable and force the process to begin all over again by cutting a new wax.
The flask is then ready to be placed into the oven for "burnout", or the wax elimination process. The oven must stay at 1350 degrees Fahrenheit for several hours causing the wax to be fully removed from the investment. Then the burnout is completed with another few hours of "setting" at 1000 degrees and then 900 etc. It must be done in the right order for the right duration of time, or else... you guessed it back to step three! The burnout process takes up to 8 hours and is often done overnight.
The metals have to be carefully weighed and calculated then blended with metal alloy to be sure we manufacture in the correct karat; either sterling, 10Kt or 14Kt gold. Nobody would want a 12kt badge when they ordered 14Kt gold!
The metal must be heated carefully and kept at the proper temperature the entire time so that it can easily flow into the vacuum centrifuge casting flask.
The metal is heated to precisely the right temperature causing it to liquefy so that it can be poured into the burned out mold flask. This takes several minutes using a torch heated to over 1600 degrees Fahrenheit. Many customers have used sentimental pieces to melt & create another new piece with even more sentimental value.
The flask is then lowered into a cool bucket of water for a "super cool" quick set. This is called the QUENCH. The remaining investment is washed away, leaving only the badge pendant tree seen below.
The cast tree comes out of the investment in a "rough" dull finish form. Each badge must be carefully cut by hand from the tree so as not to damage the other badges that are still remaining.
Each rough badge is polished by hand with tripoli and then rouge to bring it to a high polish. This step can take 1-2 hours per badge piece. It takes an experienced eye & a steady hand, because too much pressure could polish the details right off a badge, and we would have to go back to step three. This step in the process is what makes a jeweler's fingers look so dirty all the time. They really do wash their hands several times a day, promise!
It is a mark of pride for a jeweler to have the blackened nails.
Each polished badge goes to Norma to get a bail soldered and possibly a diamond or birthstone set in the badge as well.
The last step in the manufacturing process is the inking. We use a standard antique ink. It is brushed on by hand, allowed to hard set for 2 hours and then carefully removed by an experienced hand.
The badges must be deep cleaned in our ultrasonic machine which guarantees no polishing rouge or gold dust is left in the grooves of the details. They usually soak for several hours to assure they are fully cleaned before moving on to the next step in the process.
Once the badge is finished, we mark it with our manufacturers stamp. Our mark is an Alamo outline which includes the karat stamp inside (.925 or 10Kt, 14Kt) You may need a microscope to see it, but by law, it is there!
Once a badge pendant is completely finished out, the piece is pictured for our inventory catalog. The pictures are then added to our website for a current listing of all available badges.
|The last step is shipping, or local pick up for our San Antonio customers.|
|What else could you want to know?|
If you have any questions about our pendant and ring manufacturing process, just call our toll free number and we will be happy to help!
Use your old gold to create a new badge!
We can use scrap gold you no longer wear (necklaces, earrings, rings etc.) to melt and create your badge or custom made ring. Just mail us the gold via USPS insured for the approximate value and with delivery confirmation. We will only charge you a "cast charge" that includes the wax cutting, casting and refining, polishing and bail.
In order to use your gold, we need the correct karat to match your badge order and a base cast weight total. (Usually 8-10 grams for an average 1" badge.) There will also be an additional gold charge if needed.
CAST CHARGE - ONLY $245.95
(No matter what size badge or karat metal you order)
Sometimes your scrap gold comes to us with a varied mixture of alloys in the gold, especially if your gold comes from a sentimental heirloom piece from 50+ years ago. This is especially true when rose gold or white gold are added to the "mix". To allow for the best cast finish possible, we prefer to "trade" your gold for our purified properly alloyed gold, however, we can use your actual gold. When your gold is used, we cannot "guarantee" proper color, mix or finish throughout the piece. If a re-cast is required due to an inadequate gold quality, the customer is responsible for the cost of the second casting charge. ($235.95) Customers can choose to keep the piece "as is" or re-cast for a proper finish.
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