Making jewelry calls on skills other than the creative. Jewelers require a knowledge of math, science and technology combined with visual arts to create beautiful pieces. In fact, many jewelers use the same tools and technology that can be seen in STEM fields.Jewelers require a knowledge of math, science and technology combined with visual arts to create beautiful pieces. In fact, many jewelers use the same tools and technology that can be seen in STEM fields.
For instance, jewelers use CAD/CAM (computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacturing) to design wedding and engagement rings and all their intricate cuts and patterns. Sometimes we also use casting to create molds of jewelry designs, like dentists create molds and cast them for your teeth! In fact, we are known to scavenge or ask dentists for their old tools because they make excellent jewelry tools!
Have you ever heard someone say they never used math once they left school? Not true for jewelers! We use math extensively to determine how much material is needed for a project. We are very cognizant of not wasting material because it is costly to do so. We follow the old adage of “measure twice, cut once.” Everyone’s favorite mathematical constant, pi, is used in calculations to determine the length of metal to cut for bracelets, rings and the bezel we use for setting stones. How do we do this? Here is an example:
We take into account the thickness of the metal (usually in millimeters (mm)) and the diameter then multiply by pi (3.14) to get the length of the material to cut
Formula: Diameter + thickness of metal in mm x pi (3.14).
Example (20+ 6 )x 3.14 =81.64mm
We also use physics and the properties of metal to determine which metals to use and which tools to use to create the desired effects of a piece.
For instance, sterling silver is an alloy made of 92.5 percent pure silver and 7.5 percent copper. It is known for its bright appearance, easy to solder, good machinability, good conductor of heat and electricity, malleable and ductile (can be beaten and drawn into a wire), and a good reflector of light (it’s shiny). These are all good qualities in a metal for jewelry!
How a metal moves when you strike it with a hammer in forming and forging is important to consider, too. A cross peen hammer spreads molecules while other hammers compress molecules.
We also have to consider soldering temperatures and the flow point for solder (how we join two pieces or more of metal together.) Different types of solder and flow points determine when the solder will melt, which we use to join two pieces of metal together. Different stages of joins also have different temperature requirements and can vary by over 100 degrees!
This is just a quick summary but you can see how important science and math are when creating something that is visually beautiful. You don’t have to be confined to a laboratory or office when using these skills!
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