Innovative Jewelry and Design Techniques Combined with Inspiration from Natural Colors and Shapes

Aaron Henry Craftsmanship

Sketch and Inspiration

A new collection or design typically begins with a rough sketch. We collect information to flesh out our ideas and add dimension to the photographs we take and the artifacts (such as flowers, bark or pebbles) that we acquire. At our studio, the design begins to take shape in more detailed drawings and models.

Model Making

Depending on several factors, our models are generally created in either wax or silver. They are completely hand made, and oftentimes very labor intensive. This is where the 'Architect' and the 'Contractor' meet to turn sketches and measurements into an exact and tangible jewelry model.

Finished Model

When the model has been completely assembled, inspected and corrected for flaws, a sprue (the Y-shaped piece) is added. This will be the entry point of wax or metal into the mold or flask (see shooting waxes and casting, step 8). The sprued model is gold-plated to ease its removal from the mold (see cutting mold, step 6).

Mold Making

A mold is made from the finished model by packing a special type of jewelry molding rubber around the model. This 'raw' mold is then placed into a metal frame to keep its shape while being 'cooked'.

Pressing the Mold

The jewelry molding rubber is vulcanized around the model in a mold press. Temperature and pressure are held constant while the mold is 'cooked' for a set time period.

Cutting the Mold

After the now finished mold has cooled, the model is removed. This is an intricate and very important process of exact cutting. The silver model must be 'freed' in such a way that a later wax version of it (see removing the wax) will not be bent or broken during this removal process. When we have finished cutting the mold, there is a negative of the original model that we removed. This mold will be used to create all subsequent jewelry based on our original drawing and model.

Mold Library

We retain every mold that we have ever made in our mold library. A lot of work went into creating these molds, and this is how we can match a lost earring from a pair that may have been purchased thirty years ago.

Shooting the Waxes

Special wax is kept at a high temperature and under pressure, so that we can inject it into the new mold. We are filling the negative space left by the removal of the silver model with wax in order to replicate it. The wax is entering the mold through the sprue that we attached earlier (see finished model).

Removing the Wax

When the wax has cooled, we remove the top half of the mold exposing part of the wax pattern. Carefully, the wax is freed from the mold and set aside until all the pieces we need to complete the jewelry have been 'shot'. The waxes are checked for any inconsistencies such as air bubbles, pattern shifting and trueness.

Treeing the Waxes

Each wax piece is affixed to a large wax rod or 'tree' mounted on a rubber base. There will be a separate 'tree' for each type of metal to be cast. When the 'trees' are complete, they will be inserted into a perforated metal 'flask' with a removable rubber seal.


A special investment mixture (sort of like plaster of Paris) is poured into the flasks and around the wax 'trees'. Any air bubbles are vacuumed out and the flasks are set aside. When this mixture has set, the rubber seal is removed and the flask continues to air dry.


The flasks are transferred to a steam cabinet for wax removal. We prefer this method to a traditional oven de-waxing process because it is much more environmentally sound. Instead of burning off the wax, we are able to melt out almost all of it. When this process is complete, we will be left with a negative of the wax pattern surrounded by investment.


This stage, called the burnout, removes any residual wax in a pre-set twelve-hour temperature cycle. The 'burnout' takes place in a special oven and also serves to cure and temper the investment; so that it can withstand the 1900+ F degrees of the molten gold we are going to pour into the cavity left by the melted wax.


While the flasks are in the oven, we prepare the metal - in this case gold. By combining pure gold with pre-formulated mixtures of silver and copper for instance (the alloys), we are able to create gold of different colors (white, green or yellow for instance) and properties (i.e. hard or soft). The gold is alloyed and weighed for each flask.


The alloyed gold is melted in a crucible to a specified temperature, based on its color and fineness. When everything is ready to go, the flask is removed form the oven and placed into a vacuum. This process will draw out air that might cause turbulence or displace the soon to be added gold. The gold is carefully poured into the flask, while the vacuum continues to pull. The cast flask is set aside and allowed to cool until the gold has set (the glow is gone from the visible metal). This completes the 'Lost-Wax Casting' process.

Gold Trees

After about 15 minutes, the flasks are submerged in a water bath to remove the investment and expose the gold trees. At this point, each gold piece is inspected for any possible defects. If the rough casting is acceptable, it is weighed in and matched with any additional pieces needed to complete the jewelry.

Filing Up

Each piece is filed up to remove any of the casting 'skin' (rough, dull areas left from the casting process) and to insure an adequate fit of all the various parts.

First Polish

This ring has been filed up and the inside areas have been polished. After the stones have been set, these areas that have been pre-polished will not be so accessible. By polishing them now, the end result will be a cleaner, brighter and more finished ring.

Stone Grading

Every gemstone (in this case rubies, sapphires and diamonds) is graded for color, cut and clarity by a graduate gemologist. We go through thousands of stones to secure the best gems for our jewelry.

Sapphire Selection

Once we have accepted colored gemstones (in this case sapphires and rubies) for our inventory, we sort them out in grooves on a white background. Depending on what design we're following, colors will be calibrated and grouped together, or selected based on hue and saturation then balanced against other colors.


The ring is packed with shellac, to support the metal, as it is being drilled and hammered or burnished. The stone setter then creates bearings in the metal to form a seat for the stone. In this example, the metal is carefully burnished over the stone edge and bright cut, creating a clean, mirror finish on the setting job.


During the setting process, the stone setter constantly checks and re-checks his progress. Care is exercised to ensure proper stone alignment, non-abraded stones, and a secure and finished setting job. If something isn't perfect, this is the time to correct it.

Shellack Residue

This image shows the ring set with calibrated blue sapphires, still with some shellac residue. Most of the shellac has been melted out, the ring them being soaked in denatured alcohol to dissolve the residue.

Waste Processing

Our drainage system is equipped with three levels of treatment before emptying into a separate building treatment facility. These barrels collect such things as polishing residue while helping to neutralize any chemicals. The first tank additionally traps gold traces, which we can eventually reclaim. The extra steps of waste processing reflect our concern for the environment.


This ring has been filed up and the inside areas have been polished. After the stones have been set, these areas that have been pre-polished will not be so accessible. By polishing them now, the end result will be a cleaner, brighter and more finished ring.

Piece Assembly

Here we see all the set and pre-polished pieces, waiting for final assembly. Because we do not let anything go, each piece is inspected again. After the ring is assembled, it may be logistically difficult to refine or repair the metal or the setting.


In this case, diamond accents are set into small bezels, which need to be soldered in between the sapphires. Using a torch, the jeweler assembles all the various pieces and including the quality and hallmark stamp. The ring shown here is covered in a borax solution that protects the stones and metal from burning or developing fire scale. After the soldering is complete, the jeweler re-checks for alignment, cleans up any extra metal and evaluates the soldering bond. If everything is perfect, it's on to the final polish.

Final Polish

The polisher loupes the metal for scratches and blemishes caused by the soldering and assembly process. With this ring, we wanted a high polish on all metal surfaces, and when the polisher has achieved this, the ring is sent to the final stage.

Quality Control

Every piece of jewelry that we make is subject to intense inspection. The ring is looked at under magnification for loose stones, blemishes, alignment and overall quality. Only after this final stage is the Jewel considered finished.

Finished Ring

The final ring is photographed, cataloged and carefully packaged for delivery.