Seawear® Jewelry is made in the USA
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The Seawear line is hand made in the USA using the lost wax casting method. We are not sending it out to Mexico, India or Asia. There is no child labor involved. No forced labor. No prison labor. No POW labor. Customs from any country can ask for further verification or stop by.
First a wax is made (shooting a wax) of the item needed. In this example, it was a sand dollar.
After many of the waxes are made, they are assembled onto a 'tree' and you can see why it is called that! In this example, the tree is actually upside down as the melted (molten) silver or gold is poured from the bottom and flows down the tree to all the branches and then to the models. This was a twelve ounce pour to get 30-40 pieces.
After the cast, this is what you are left with. Some work, some are scrapped due to defects. Many people are surprised by how 'rough' they look as they are not recognizable as precious metal jewelry! This was a cast of Argentium sterling silver.
This is a close up of one of the shark teeth as it is 'clipped' off the tree trunk. It will take hours and hours of polishing, finishing, sanding, detailing, buffing, waxing and heat treating to be ready for sale.
Remember the first wax model at the top of the page? This is after sand blasting, hand polishing the edges and star, fabricating prongs for a 1/3ct diamond and setting it. 18kt yellow gold
And, finally completed with a complimentary 18kt chain to match and ready for a 25th Anniversary gift!
More details of the Argentium silver
Ok, to answer a few of your questions let's follow a few pieces in finishing. This may be of more interest to students than customers, and of course, fellow Ganoskin members!
These are three 4x6 inch casting trees of fish, lighthouses, sailboats and propellers. Each tree is 330-360 grams of silver. Rather than quench them in cold water to break away the investment quickly, I let them cool overnight and break away the investment by hand. It is my belief that this results in a denser crystallized piece of jewelry. As the crystals are allowed to cool, they shrink back into position tightly packed rather than being shocked into cooling oversized and not allowed to settle. I believe this is one of the contributing factors to brittle jewelry. Sharp students or experienced casters are already smiling as they know I mixed up the weights on the tree on the left and the middle. One has a button too large and the one in the middle is too small. I'm not as sharp at midnight as I am at 7AM with half a pot of coffee!
Here the trees have been further cleaned in a hot ultra-sonic bath. It gets most of the investment off, but not all. It could be cleaned further with a high pressure jet. At this stage, I prefer the magnetic disc finisher to get all the nooks and crannies.
Our test subjects. These have been tooth brush cleaned of all eye visible investment. The scratch over the side fin and some surface imperfections, will almost disappear.
This is 200gms of stainless steel pins. A fraction of a millimeter thick. They can stick into you like a needle. A magnetic disc is under the bowl and spins. This in turn causes the pins to swirl in the water striking the jewelry. This makes tiny pock marks that pack in and smooth the finish without removing metal. I prefer to finish as much as possible by burnishing rather than removing metal. Hand finishing a piece from start to finish can remove 10-20% of the metal. Burnishing removes 1-2% but takes a lot longer.
Loaded with pins, jewelry, water and burnishing compound. I also like to add a little baking soda as it keeps the pins clean.
These guys are swimming upstream and being bombarded with stainless steel pins.
After one hour of magnetic centrifugal finishing at 1,800rpms
1-4mm ceramic media
After two hours of ceramic centrifugal wet finishing at 360rpms. You can see we are getting more shiny without losing detail.
After two hours of porcelain wet centrifugal finishing at 300rpms even more shiny and the little scratch behind the eye over the fin is still visible. I did that while breaking away the investment with an awl in the beginning.
This is after 48 hours of DRY tumbling in fine walnut shells! Much jewelry is sold and considered finished at this stage.
So far, for the two pieces we have only lost 1/10th of one gram in metal weight. They have been work hardened to resist scratching on the surface and hardened within. They have withstood 53 hours of tumbling and wet centrifugal finishing. Any weak pieces have showed up and parts broken off.
Now, for the hand finishing which involves various grades of impregnated polishing discs, rubber wheels, rouge compound buff and a final Picasso blue wax. It was here I had to remove the scratch as the tumbling does not really remove so much as displace. The only way to remove the scratch was by removing metal. I could have tried a carbide burnisher that would have moved the edges in, but it shows up more under high polish.
It is too polished now to see any detail as it acts like a mirror. On the left you can see my reflection with the camera and the leaves of trees in the background. On the right are several trees behind me and the clouds! I am obviously outside to take this under natural daylight on a cloudy day.
We lost 7/10ths of a gram in the final 15 minutes of hand finishing! So we started out with 5.9gms of Argentium 935 silver and ended with 5.1gms. 8/10ths of a gram disappeared into microscopic silver dust! Another reason USA labor requires a strong ventilation system and wearing a respirator. Do note that with the tumbling the fins had no loss of detail and very little rounding of the edges.
If it were only these two pieces for a customer, I could have done them from start to finish in less than an hour or two. Maybe lost another gram in metal. The three trees had over 200 pieces and most can be finished now in a few minutes. And 200 grams of metal gets passed along to the customer rather than in my filters, buffs and lungs. If you are just learning, after a few hours of hand buffing with your Dremel or Foredom without a mask, your can feel it in your lungs. It can take several days to clear. Get the best filter mask you can find. It is your most important piece of equipment.
This was a 4x6 14kt gold tree, #146 rich gold from Stuller. 420gms yielding 204gms of clipped jewelry and 216gms of sprues and button. After polishing maybe 180gms of finished jewelry. I hope! Gold comes out in the most fantastic soft natural gold color imaginable. Almost ready to wear. Most people want it brightly polished!
A tour of the lost wax casting process
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