In Gold We Trust: How Goldsmiths Make Jewelry

Goldsmiths working at an old small scale gold jewelry industry in Dusun Seneng, Banyurojo Village, Mertoyudan District, Magelang Regency, the Province of Central Java.***


By: Sahrudin@SahrudinSaja

ARE THERE any other substances on earth have captured our hearts and minds more than gold?

How was it decided that gold are worth so much money?

Rarity is definitely one point. Gold is very scarce and relatively expensive to produce, so the base price must be reasonably high.

It doesn’t tarnish or decay, and therefore, gold became a key component used in making of jewelry.

Pure gold is generally too soft for use in jewelry. It is fairly well known that if gold is alloyed with other metals such as silver and copper.

Making gold jewelry takes time and craftsmanship.

I watched carefully how two goldsmiths making bracelets in an old small scale gold jewelry manufacturing near my home, in Dusun Seneng, Banyurojo Village, Mertoyudan District, Magelang Regency.

THE JEWELRY designs started with detailed drawings, and from there an actual size wax model is carved.

Steel wax carver set, heat, drills, are among many tools (and also techniques) are used to create a wax to acquire a finished model.

Pure 24 carat gold bars (ciok kim gold), and stocks of pure silver and copper are the basic materials.

The 24 carat yellow gold is mixed with exact percentages of other metals.

The resulting gold bars are then spun by presses to different thicknesses for different types of jewelry.

Component parts are carefully stamped, one at a time, out of the rolled gold sheets using patterns and dies.

The solid gold patterns are then ready to be added to a cast jewelry base, created using lost wax casting method.

Lost wax casting starts with an original metal model, often silver, of a jewelry item.

A vulcanized rubber mold is made from the metal model and is recyclable for making a design over and over.

A wax model is then made when hot molten wax is inserted into the mold.

The wax model is removed from the mold and mounted to a wax stem called a sprue, which creates an airway for casting.

Many designs mounted to this sprue create a tree, place inside a stainless steel cylinder.

After the plaster hardens inside, the cylinder is placed in an oven and burned for several hours, melting the wax away.

The space inside the hardened plaster gives an exact duplicate to be shape and is filled with molten gold.

The cylinder is extinguished in cold water, breaking the plaster and uncovering the gold jewelry.

The cast pieces are then polished by traditional method, hand polishing using a wheel.

Many castings at one time are placed in a tub with different sizes and shapes of metal, rubber or other materials in a liquid solution,then rotated until they have been polished smooth.

These smooth, cast pieces are then ready for the stamped components to be mounted on them.

The jewelry makers use the traditional method, where the stamped components are individually hand-soldered to the cast gold frame using torches and carat-gold solder.

The jewelry is cleaned in a mild acid bath, then, each piece is electroplated with 24 carat yellow gold.

Each piece is refined in several different stages to make more apparent its brilliant luster.

Finally, the gold jewelry making process is complete!***


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