Understanding MKM Jewelry’s Suite of Services

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MKM Jewelry has long been considered a premier jewelry manufacturer in Los Angeles. With over 15 years of experience, bulk manufacturing capabilities, and rapid service, MKM Jewelry has been the first choice for many businesses looking to create and distribute quality made jewelry. We believe that every project should be treated as our most important project. Whether you need to create 50, 500, or 1,000 pieces, MKM Jewelry can cast, mold, weld, and finish your piece with precision and speed. You can explore our services and choose the process that best suits the creation of your jewelry line. For more information about our manufacturing processes and services, please review our production techniques in detail below. Continue reading to learn about lost wax casting, mold making, laser welding, and more. CAD When you approach MKM Jewelry with an idea, sketch, or model, we first draft a design with one of the industry’s top design softwares. We use CAD—or computer aided design—to create three-dimensional drawings of your piece before making a physical model. At MKM Jewelry, we use Matrix, Rhino, ArtCAD, or JewelryCAD for the best results. Once you’ve approved the designs, we use 3D printing to present you with a prototype. After your final approval, we then create a wax mold or a master mold in preparation for the final casting of your piece. CAM CAM—or computer-aided manufacturing—is where we turn your working design into a physical model. Computer-aided manufacturing comes after a design has already been created in CAD. Whether you provide us with an existing file or we make one for you, we create a model prototype based on the best manufacturing process for your piece. We offer several different CAM processes, including:
  • Wax milling: 3, 4, and 5 Axis CNC (Computer Numerical Control)
  • 3D Wax Printing
  • Direct Metal Machining
  • CNC Metal Molds
After the creation of a prototype, our artisans apply their expertise to create the number of pieces you need. While we do not use the aid of computers, every person on our team is a skilled craftsman with years of experience with intricate and complex designs. Mold Making Used to replicate three-dimensional items, a mold is a negative of the original model used to create a second piece that is identical in size and shape to the prototype. At MKM Jewelry, we offer three different types of molds: rubber, silicone, and metal. A rubber mold is best for when you’re in need of a versatile material. Capable of resisting both high heat and pressure, rubber molds are ideal for projects that need to be heated to over 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Rubber is also useful for production of large batches, as it is durable and economical. Silicone molds are used when you’re working with materials like putty, wax, or soft metals. While these molds cannot withstand high heat or high temperature, the flexibility of silicone allows for easy removal of the model, and its naturally non-stick surface prevents items from getting stuck. Metal molds are the most accurate and durable when attempting to create a large batch. If consistency is of the utmost importance to your production, metal is the best way to create identical, detailed pieces. Depending on your production process, the size of your batch, and the metal you’re using, mold materials may vary. Laser Welding Laser welding is a more precise and durable alternative to soldering. With laser welding, MKM Jewelry fuses metals on a molecular level that results in seamless, undetectable work. In addition, the heat used in laser welding is very accurate and localized, preventing metal discoloration. Due to its precise accuracy, it is safe to use laser welding near materials that are sensitive to heat. Heat sensitive stones, epoxy, pearls, and enamel are unaffected by the use of the laser. The laser process also burns away impurities, eliminating the need for cleaning and allowing it to be used on tarnished or dirty surfaces. Laser welding is ideal for creating made-to-order designs, in addition to delicate jewelry re-assembly and repair. Lost Wax Casting The lost wax casting method, also known as cire-perdue, or investment casting, is one of the oldest ways to create items using a mold. Dating back to the 3rd millennium BC, the method has only slightly changed. Lost wax casting involves pouring molten metal into a mold created from a wax replica. After creating a wax replica, we perfect the replica by removing seam lines, filling in air bubbles, and ensuring that all the delicate details on your piece are exact. Small ducts that allow the wax and fumes to escape are then attached to the replica. After the ducts are attached, the wax replica is surrounded by a mold material, which varies depending on the metal used to create your jewelry. For softer metals, like silver and bronze, the mold material—also called investment material—is a gypsum-bonded investment. Once the mold has hardened, we place the piece into a furnace and slowly raise the temperature until the wax is completely melted. When all of the wax is gone, heated metal is gravity-poured into the mold, and vacuum-pressured to ensure even casting and minimal risk of defects. When the metal has cooled, we quench the mold, which then begins to crack. We continue to remove the mold and clean the piece before finishing it with matte, tumble, mirrored, or raw effects. For materials that melt at a higher temperature, such as rhodium, we cannot use a gypsum-bonded investment, as the metal will melt it during casting. Instead, we follow a similar process using a phosphate-bonded investment and centrifugal pouring. Since both the wax and the mold are incinerated during the creation process, we recommend lost wax casting for one-of-a-kind pieces or small batches of jewelry. Finishing When your batch has been completed and all pieces are made, it’s time to finish each piece. MKM Jewelry offers four styles of finishing, including raw, mirrored, tumble, and matte styles. Pieces can be finished with one of these processes or a combination of two or more. Raw finishing includes cleaning and pickling, but the skin is left in place with a dull finish. Cleaning removes any vestiges of the mold used to create the piece, while pickling removes oxidation or flux through a liquid compound typically composed of heated vinegar, salt, and other acidic components. For a slightly brighter finish, tumbling is used to polish the piece and harden the metal. Tumbling does not remove any of the metal, so the sprue or gate are still in place. A matte finish, also called a brushed finish, is when texture is added to the metal’s surface. This gives it a non-reflective surface and creates a subtle gleam. Texture is usually applied with either a chemical process or an abrasive material. The first part of a mirror, or polish, finish ensures that there are no nicks, dents, or faults in the surface of a piece. Then, a polish is applied to give the piece a highly reflective shine. While some of these methods seem contradictory, they can be combined onto a single piece. For example, rings may utilize matte finish on the inside and a polished finish on the outside for a singular contrast that makes the piece unique. Engraving Engraving was once mainly used as decorative carvings on stone. At MKM Jewelry, we offer two types of engraving: hand engraving and laser engraving. While each has its benefits, the type of engraving necessary is usually determined by the metal that is used to create your jewelry. Laser engraving is an increasingly popular method among jewelers because of its ability to engrave almost any type of metal. A laser ablates the metal by removing layers of the surface material, creating an environmentally friendly, precise method that allows engraving at specific depths; laser engraving also lasts longer than traditional engraving. Our hand engraving is a process undertaken by the skilled artisans employed at MKM Jewelry. With years of experience, state-of-the-art tools, and an eye for detail, our craftsmen can hand engrave a large number of jewelry quickly and efficiently. Setting If you plan on including stones or embellishments in your jewelry, choosing the right setting is paramount. MKM Jewelry offers some of the most popular setting styles, including bezel, channel, flush, gypsy, prong, pavé, and bead settings. A bezel set stone is one encircled by a raised lip of metal. The metal overlaps the edge of the stone, which holds it in place. Stones which are channel set are placed in a continuous row inside of an embedded pathway. The channel length is determined by the amount of stones placed within. A flush setting—or gypsy setting when used with especially small stones—requires each stone to be individually impressed into the metal until its face is level with the surface of the metal. A prong setting features a stone held in place by small metal claws. Prongs can be set in many shapes, including pointed or rounded. Pavé setting is a combination of prong and flush setting. A hole is drilled into the metal and tiny prongs are used to hold a stone in place. Pavé settings minimize the visibility of the prongs and usually feature a row of closely placed stones. When the stones used are very small, pavé setting is called bead setting. Each style of setting has different benefits and drawbacks. To learn more, contact MKM Jewelry today. Enameling The process of fusing metal and glass to create colors is called enameling. Enamel is a type of glass composed of iron oxide, quartz sand, borax, and potassium oxide. Together, these materials form a transparent, colorless base to which a plethora of metal oxides can be added to create color. Enameling is suitable to adhere to gold, silver, and copper alloys through thermal expansion. The glass mixture is strategically positioned on the metal and then placed in a furnace. After reaching the appropriate temperature, the enamel begins to melt and flows into predetermined areas. When the entire piece has been colored, it is then polished and completed. Your Custom Piece Each of the services detailed above is combined to create a process tailored to the creation of your pieces. Since each business approaches us with different goals in mind, MKM Jewelry provides information and advice as to which methods will result in the fastest, most economical, and durable pieces. If you have further questions about our production methods, reach out to the experts at MKM Jewelry today.

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