I recently watched a TV program about the Roman conquest of Britain and was not at all surprised when the narrator displayed a gold coin from that era. I wasn’t surprised because other cultures even further back, e.g., pharaonic Egypt, used gold extensively in their jewellery, ornaments, sculptures, and sarcophagi.
Maybe because I have no such knowledge, ability or talent I can honestly say I am totally in awe of those ancient craftsmen who devised this technique and passed it along to present-day goldsmiths who continue to use it. But, what was the technique or method those ancient goldsmiths used when working with liquid gold? The answer: the lost wax process currently used by the goldsmith at LL Private Jewellers.
In case you’re wondering how this lost wax process works, I’ll try to explain it. The first step is to carve the design from wax. This is not candle wax but an extremely hard wax that will stand up the artist’s carving.
Once created to the designer’s vision or customer request, the design is then put into a flask surrounded by more wax (investment). When the investment hardens, the flask is put into a kiln or burnout oven and heated until the wax can be poured or melts off leaving a hole that is the exact size and shape of the design. A crucible is then mounted against the flask and the gold inserted and melted to the right temperature. When that temperature is reached the gold is flung into the flask by centrifugal force or vacuum sucked, and hardens into exactly the shape and size of the original design. This truly is an amazing process and maybe, in ancient times, was perceived to be alchemy.
An interesting thought, don’t you think? And, once again referring to ancient times I must tell you that this process even pre-dates paranoiac Egypt because a bronze sculpture was excavated from the Indus Valley in the N.E. region of India. This is significant because those ancient goldsmiths knew that 24 carat gold is soft and therefore requires some other element or alloy so it holds its shape.
So, if you have the opportunity to see this process for yourself I highly recommend it as it’s well worth your time. And if you’re having a custom designed ring or other piece of jewellery from LL Private Jewellers you’ll be in the perfect place for an education in the art of goldsmithing.
Please, contact us at 604-683-3918 or on our website at LL Private Jewellers.