Klean-Karats-Header

Which Jewelry Cleaner Should I Use?

Think of when you went above and beyond for someone— or when someone went above and beyond for you. It’s always special to leave an interaction feeling like the other party was invested in your happiness and overall experience. And when our expectations are surpassed, the sentiment sticks long after.

Now apply this idea to your business. When closing the sale, it’s easy to take that extra step and offer your customers jewelry care products that will keep those pieces clean once they leave the store.  Think about it:  consumers purchase stainless steel cleaner for their appliances and hardwood cleaner for their floors. It only makes sense they want to purchase specific jewelry cleaner for their precious jewelry.

Take a look at the different jewelry care products to offer your customers to help keep all of their jewelry clean.

Packaging Holiday From the Bench Klean Karats

Pre-clean with foam

Not only is the Klean Karats Foaming Jewelry cleaner an option for customers, but it’s also handy for jewelers as well.   We suggest pre-cleaning your customer’s jewelry with the foam cleaner before putting it in your ultrasonic or using your steam cleaner.  Why would we suggest this?   Simple-the concentrated cleaner in the form of foam is incredibly efficient. The surface area of the cleaner increases as it forms a bubble so that it can disperse over a greater area without slipping off the piece of jewelry.

The Foaming Jewelry Cleaner is safe for diamonds, all metals and gems including pearls, and delicate stone such as opal, turquoise, and lapis.  Sold in a pack of 10, the 1.7-ounce bottle is also a perfect size for travel.

*Always test a small area before doing a full cleaning.

Gifting Clean

If your customers travel often, or for those always wanting to go the extra mile, Klean Karats® Cleaner Pens are the perfect option. They are easy to travel with and help customers keep their jewelry clean at all times.

Sold in a pack of 10, the pens are safe and effective on all metals and gems including soft, porous stones like pearls and opal. The only exceptions are Amber and Ethiopian Opals. It can even be used on costume and antique jewelry pieces.  It’s also incredibly easy to use and stays clean since the formula stays on the brush.

Soak It Up

If a customer is looking for a more immersive cleaning option at home, the Klean Karats® Jewelry Bath will do the trick.  This non-toxic biodegradable jewelry cleaner is safe for gold, silver, and platinum jewelry.  It’s also safe on most gemstones including pearls and delicate stones like opal and turquoise. The only exceptions are Amber and Ethiopian Opals

Sold in a pack of 12, easily prepare the bath by adding water to the concentrate packet into the jar.  Be sure to test first on jewelry that has dyed pearls or stones, since some of these treatments aren’t permanent.

Shop all of our jewelry cleaners and cloths on Stuller.com.


This blog has been updated from a previous post.




Celebrate National Worship of Tools Day

If you’ve paid attention to your calendar and love obscure holidays, you may be ahead of the pack and know what today is. But if you don’t know, it’s March 11, which means today is one pretty fantastic day:

National Worship of Tools Day!

 

While we love to splurge on new bench tools, you should also keep the ones in your workspace in working order. Here are some simple ways to extend the life of your tools to keep your workflow moving, just in time for National Worship of Tools Day:

Clean Regularly

Taking time to thoroughly clean what you use most at the bench will help protect against long-term damage. It doesn’t have to take a long time, but getting in the habit will go a long way.

This includes checking any blades or smaller pieces that contribute to your machine working correctly. It also won’t hurt to polish those blades and use a soft wire brush to clean between the teeth. Add in dusting time to sweep away filings as well as general cleanup.

     
  54-4430       54-4425            16-0551       16-0510


Lubricate Tools

Whether it’s to extend the life of your tools or reduce friction and heat buildup, proper lubrication is crucial. Friction from using the tools can slow down gears, dry out belts, and more. Use tool-appropriate lubricants to reduce friction, prevent dust particles from getting in shafts and joints, and more.

                 
                34-2279       21-0740             26-1003

Keep the Habit Going

Cleaning an item once or twice is great, but forming the habit of adding maintenance to your work routine is key.

Want a more detailed listing of how often to care for your tools? Create a schedule for yourself to ensure you stay on top of maintenance. Here’s an example from our bench team of some small things you can do frequently to keep your tools happy:

Daily

Handpiece: Check both outer and inner springs. They shouldn’t bend more than 45 degrees. Replace springs as needed.

Weekly

Flex shaft: Check the motor brushes and shaft to ensure they are working properly. Oil the sheath. A well-running flex-shaft is like a smooth-running engine.

Ultrasonic: Check water levels. Collect the sludge in the tank for refining. Wipe it clean.

Every Other Week

Bench: Clean your bench. Collect and separate sweeps. Use a refining bag for clippings and a trash bag for dust.

Polishing Unit: Empty and clean out the bags. (The three filters in this unit need to be changed every six to eight months, so schedule accordingly.)

Dust Collector: Wash the pre-filter, which is wrapped around the unit.

Monthly

Files: Use a wire brush to clean and collect debris from files.

Plating Solutions: Clean and filter the solutions. Remember to keep a cap on the solutions at all times.

Every Other Month

Dust Collector: Wash the large filter.

Steamer: To clean the unit, blow it out to 5 psi and release. Check the glass tube and washers, which can thin out from running water through the machine, and replace if needed. Wear safety glasses and gloves when performing this maintenance task.


So, how are you gonna celebrate National Worship of Tools Day? Have any tips and tricks for extending the lifespan of your bench tools? Let us know in the comments below!




Jewelry Care Products Blog Header Image

Jewelry Care Products: Which Jewelry Cleaner Does What?

Over the last few months, I’ve talked a lot about how to customize your packaging to enhance your brand. What you say (and how you say it) is quite important. But today, I want to talk about actions. As summer comes to an end, take a moment to think of when you went above and beyond for someone— or when someone went above and beyond for you. It always feels special to leave an interaction feeling like the other party was invested in your happiness and overall experience. And when our expectations are surpassed, the sentiment sticks long after.

Now, just in time for the holiday season, apply this idea to your business. Take the extra step to offer your customers jewelry care products to keep their pieces clean after the sale. Consider this: consumers purchase stainless steel cleaner for their appliances. They purchase hardwood cleaner for their floors. So naturally, they want to purchase specific jewelry cleaner for their precious jewelry.

Here is a quick outline of the different jewelry care products to offer your customers. These add-ons will help keep all the jewelry in their wardrobe clean—

What It Cleans

Why You Should Carry It

This fine jewelry cleaner is specially formulated to clean fine gold and platinum jewelry, as well as harder gemstones like diamonds and rubies. If you carry fine gold, diamond, and bridal jewelry, this cleaner is one of the most important and versatile jewelry care products for your line.

This gentle jewelry cleaning formula is safe for a wide range of jewelry, from diamonds to delicate pearls, beads, and fashion jewelry. This gentle jewelry cleaning formula offers your customers a safe way to clean most pieces of jewelry in their wardrobe. If you sell pearls, fashion jewelry, or even mixed media pieces (such as something made with gold and emeralds or pearls), this jewelry care product is the perfect cleaning option.

Like a fine jewelry cleaning formula, this jewelry care product softly cleans fine gold and platinum jewelry, as well as harder gemstones such as diamonds. Many consumers, particularly millennials, are concerned about environmental sustainability and green products. This all-botanical, hypo-allergenic, and naturally derived product allows you to respond to this concern while offering a superior cleaning product.

This mild tarnish remover uses an organic, acidic base to quickly and efficiently remove tarnish without risk of pitting or excessive silver loss. Safe for pieces that are made only of sterling silver. When your customers’ silver jewelry becomes tarnished, they won’t wear it. Offering a mild tarnish remover is safer than other harsher jewelry care products or old wives’ tales like toothpaste.

Professional polishing cloths can be used to clean and polish fine gold, silver, and platinum jewelry restoring luster without scratching or removing the finish. Polishing cloths are excellent jewelry care products that can be used on their own or in conjunction with liquid cleaning formulations. The cloths can be used on fine jewelry, fashion jewelry, and watches, and are appropriate for most any purchase.

Try our NEW Gentle Foam Cleaner • 17-0885

Our new foam cleaner adds a bit more convenience to your customers’ lives. Easily carried in a purse, backpack, their car, or stowed neatly in a jewelry box, this gentle foam cleaner is quite handy. Urge customers to use this compact cleaner on a wide array of jewelry and use it often— especially to rid daily build-up. They’re available in packs of 15 and pair well with cleaning cloths as a thoughtful add-on to your latest sale.

Shop more jewelry care products at Stuller.com

 


Offering jewelry care products builds relationships and opens the opportunity to educate your customers on safe, routine home cleaning. And in doing so, you, the trusted jeweler, becomes a hero.




working with platinum blog header

A Step-by-Step Guide to Working With Platinum

Platinum in its finished state is an absolutely beautiful metal. It can also be a little tricky when working it due to the softness of the metal. Knowing what tools and techniques to use can make the job a whole lot easier.

 

Here are a few things you need to know about working with platinum.

First Thing’s First

The first step is knowing which platinum alloy you are working with. Platinum/cobalt,
platinum/ruthenium, or platinum/iridium. Each alloy has its advantages and disadvantages. Platinum can be a soft metal as far as finishing goes, platinum/iridium being the softest of the 3 mentioned above. Platinum/cobalt is the hardest of the three as cast.

If you’re not sure of the platinum alloy there are a couple of ways to check, one being the stamp. Platinum/cobalt and platinum/ruthenium may be stamped just PLAT, or Pt950, whereas platinum/iridium should be stamped Pt900. Of the cobalt and ruthenium a simple magnet can distinguish between the 2. Cobalt is slightly magnetic. Use a magnet to tell if a ring is made of a platinum/cobalt alloy.

Choose Your Tools Wisely

It’s important to have the right tools – burnishers, platinum sand paper in several grits, rubber wheels, and ceramic stones ext. A list of tools is at the end of the article. It is also a good idea to keep a separate set of tools just for platinum to prevent contamination, and make polishing the platinum easier. Another tip to a beautifully polished piece is to make sure to pre-clean the grit from the piece after prepping, leaving the dirt and grit on the piece can transfer to the buff making it difficult to get the high polish results without a scratchy looking haze on the piece.

Let’s Get Started

If you have a vibratory tumbler with stainless steel shot (pins, balls, and diagonal Stainless steel shot) tumble the piece for at least 20 minutes. This will shine up the areas that are hard to reach as well as work hardening the metal, making finishing the platinum a little easier to work with. If you don’t have a tumble, you can burnish the piece using a flex shaft and a tungsten-carbide burnisher or by hand using a hand burnisher. Burnishing the piece will save time when removing the scratches from the prepping process.

Round out the piece first to make sure you don’t end up with flat spots when you removethe sprue. Sand the inside with a sanding cartridge. The coarser the sand paper, the harder it will be to remove the scratches (keep that in mind). Remove the sprue, using a diamond wheel or belt sander, again the coarser the tool the harder it is to remove the scratches. Use a deburring wheel or a buff stick to smooth the surface, and remove any rough scratches. By using several grits, and stepping up the grit will make polishing that much easier.

working with platinum polishing
working with platinum polishing

Now that the shank is prepped, let’s get started on the head area. Remove all unwanted surfaces on the head using a rubber wheel and/or bullet rubber wheel in the areas that are easy to get to without changing the shape of the prongs or the bearing. You may have some rough texture that you’ll need to work with a ceramic stone. I use an ultrasonic polisher for this, but if that’s not an option you can use a pin vise to hold the ceramic stone. Once you have removed all the rough surface with the ceramic stone go over that area with radial bristles, start with the red radial bristle than go to the blue radial bristle. This will make head polishing a lot quicker.

 

Now, let’s work the gallery. Thrumming in the gallery can create a high polish just as beautiful as the rest of the piece. For this, you can use precut slurry sheets in different grits or a platinum sand paper in the different grits (make sure to cut the strips to fit the gallery opening).

Time to Polish

Let’s start polishing! You’ll polish the head area first using a soft mm, geza brush, or end brush and the luxor red polish. The luxor red is an aggressive polish, so you want to be careful not to over polish. Then you will polish the inside, using an inside felt polisher and the luxor red. Polish all scratches out (if you’ve taken the necessary steps with the sand paper cartridges this should go quick). Then you will polish the outside of the shank with a hard buff using a firm stitched buff and the luxor red, then follow with the Avivor polish. Lap the sides of the shank with a lap machine or a knife edge felt wheel (this looks like a felt rubber wheel) using a flex shaft and the luxor red again. Now let’s final buff. For this you will need a soft muslin buff and Avivor or Oras polishing compound. Polish the entire piece until all scratches have been removed. Make sure to work the head, sides and shank to a high polish.

When Soldering

Use safety precautions to protect your eyes, by using a #5 or #6 rated welding safety glasses should keep you safe from damaging your eyes while soldering on platinum. When soldering platinum it is very important not to contaminate the platinum. Always make sure the piece is clean of any oils, dirt and polish before soldering, and by keeping separate tools used solely for platinum (solder pads, ceramic tweezers, tungsten picks, etc).

working with platinum soldering

It’s also important to note that it is not recommended to use boric acid mixture or flux when soldering platinum. For assembling a head to a shank a 1500 C repair solder is recommended, soldering a peg head to a shank or an earring post to an earring a 1200 C repair solder is recommended, for sizing a 1700C solder has the best color match and there is less of a chance of solder erosion. Use natural gas/oxygen, propane gas/oxygen or hydrogen/oxygen when soldering platinum. When using a water torch make sure to disable the water feature on the torch. Do not use Acetylene gas when soldering platinum, it’s the dirtiest of all the gases and full of contaminants. Now that you have soldered your piece finish the platinum with the steps from above.

Tools & supplies for working with platinum

Flat 1200 Grit Red Ceramic Stone

        21-1205          1200 Grit Ceramic Stone

Aluminum File Handle 4"

      37-8790        Ceramic Stone Holder

        11-6063            Blue Medium Flex Rubber Wheel

     35-1234       Sheenus Neo Ultrasonic Polisher

White Knife-Edge Silicone Pre-Polish Wheels 7/8"x1/4" - Pack of 10

        11-8140          Knife-Edge Polish Wheels

3M® Radial Bristle Yellow Disc 3/4"

        10-9100, 10-9101              10-9102              Yellow, red, blue radial bristles

Polishing Cloth Strip Assortment 216 Sheets

       10-8343      Polishing strips

18-0516, 18-0518 Tungsten-Carbide Burnishers

3M® Tri-Mite Pre-Cut™ Abrasive Paper 500 Grit (20 Micron)

       11-0747            3M® Tri-Mite Abrasive Paper 400 or 500 Grit

       47-3224           Luxor Red Polish

Soft Miniature Mounted Brush 5/8" OD, 3/32" Shank

    16-7050, 16-7051   Soft White MM or End brushes

Merard AVIVOR Polishing Compound

          47-3223         Avivor Polishing Compound

Yellow Treated Muslin Wheel Buff, 5", 3 Row, 60 Ply

         17-5560          Yellow buff

       47-3224           Luxor Yellow Polish

Purple Treated Muslin Buff, 5", 3 Row, 40 Ply

         17-7253          Purple Buff

Merard ORAS Polishing Compound

       47-3225           ORAS Polishing Compound

Finex Combed Muslin Buffs with Leather Center 5" / 50 Ply

         17-7722          Finex Muslin buff

10-6091, 10-6094     320 & 800 Grit Cartridge Rolls

      11-8182      Silicone Inside Ring Cylinder

Abrasive Board Kit

      11-3430       Abrasive Board Kit


Do you have any tips for working with platinum? Tell us in the comments section below.




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Instagram For Beginners

In our last social media blog, we promised a follow-up, so here we are— back for Round 2. Less than a month away from Valentine’s Day (one of the biggest days of a jeweler’s year), we’ve decided to focus on the upcoming holiday and how you can use Instagram to sell this season! We call it: Instagram for beginners!

Tip #1 – Content

We hear it all the time. The biggest struggle jewelers face regarding your social media presence is content. How in the world do you find something to post every day? It’s as simple as this: Stuller’s Free Content. We take photography and shoot video for every selling season of the year, and we love sharing it with you. Here’s a peek at what we have available for Valentine’s Day:

 

 

Here’s the best-kept secret to Instagram for beginners – all of our photos, as well as the previous video, are available and up for grabs on our various social media platforms. By now, most of you have gotten the hang of the Facebook “Share” feature which allows you to share any Stuller post onto your store’s Facebook page. But sharing on Instagram isn’t quite as simple. Within the Instagram mobile application, your only options are to Like or Comment on a post. But never fear, we have a solution! And that leads us to . . .

Tip #2 – Repost App

Before the birth of this app, reposting consisted of many steps: 1) Screenshot 2) Crop 3) Upload 4) Caption 5) Give up because that is entirely too much effort. Those days are over! Here’s how the app works:

First, download the Repost app.

Then, find the photo you would like to repost within the Instagram app.

Instagram for beginners screenshot tap dots

Tap •••

Instagram for beginners screenshot tap copy share URL

Tap Copy Share URL

Next, open up the Repost app.

 

Instagram for beginners Screenshot Tap the Arrow

Tap the arrow >

Instagram for beginners screenshot tap repost

Then tap Repost

Instagram for beginners screenshot tap the instagram icon

Tap the Instagram icon

Now, you will be automatically transferred back into Instagram with your photo ready, your caption copied to your clipboard and a perfect Valentine’s Day post! All you have left to do is play with filters, paste your caption and SHARE!

Tip #3 – Hashtag, Hashtag, Hashtag

Instagram lends itself extremely well to jewelry. The platform is all about visual stimulation, and its users eat up bright, beautiful photography. When it comes to taking your own photos and writing your own captions, here’s our advice:

Take good photos

These don’t have to be high resolution, professional images. They do, however, need to be clear, well-lit and visually compelling. Use your smartphone, take a photo of a new piece or hot seller and choose a filter within the Instagram app that makes the piece POP.

Write a clear call-to-action

When it comes to Instagram, if a user is reading your caption you have already captured their attention. Congratulations! Your clear, well-lit, visually compelling photo did that! Now, your caption should encourage an action. Try phrases like: See this piece in person. Visit our website for details. Call us to put this piece on hold today.

Hashtag, hashtag, hashtag

Once you have a great visual and a clear call to action, your post is ready to be seen by the world. But how do you get your post out to the world when your account only has a limited amount of followers? You guessed it— hashtags! Tagging various phrases using this method allows your content to show up in the newsfeed of consumers who aren’t already following you. Here are some suggestions:

#ValentinesDay

#ValentinesGiftGuide

#GiftIdeas

#JewelryGifts

#JewelryAddict

#JewelryShopping

We also recommend incorporating specifics of the piece as hashtags for your post. For example, a photo of a rose gold stackable ring could also use #RoseGold, #RingStack and #RingOfTheDay. Play around with them! Don’t be scared to get creative or use too many. Test out different ones on various posts and monitor any changes in the number of likes your posts receive. Let us know what’s working for you in the comments below!

Tip #4 – Link Cheat

Instagram may lend itself to jewelry, but it doesn’t necessarily do the same for selling. The main obstacle we face as businesses on the platform is link limitation. You can include URLs in your photo captions, but they aren’t clickable… so what’s the use, right? The only clickable URL on the entire platform is the link in your account bio. Here’s how to use that limitation to your advantage!

On any given day, the link in your bio should click through to your jewelry store’s website. Let’s say though, that today you want to feature something specific. For our example, we will be sending our users to Stuller.com/ValentinesDay.

For our link cheat to work, there are a few steps you must take.

Instragram for beginners screenshot Instragram for beginners screenshot  Instragram for beginners screenshot

First

You need to edit the link in your account bio. As you can see, we’ve changed ours to Stuller.com/ValentinesDay. Maybe you could send your customers to a similar category page. OR if there is only one product featured in your post, you could send them to the specific product page. The possibilities are endless!

Next

Post your photo! Remember, your caption’s call-to-action needs to be similar to the one pictured above: Click the link in our bio to shop! Instagram users (especially millennials) are used to seeing this phrase so using that same repetition will easily transition them from your post to your website.

Finally

Test it out! Start off on your post, make sure your call to action is clear, click on your account name, then on the link in your bio, and make sure that clicking the URL drops you exactly where you want users to land. Working your way around Instagram’s link limitation is that simple!

There you have it – Instagram for beginners!


So far we have covered Facebook Advertising Basics and now Instagram for beginners. What would you like to read about next? A Quick Guide to Pinterest? Instagram Advertising? Let us know in the comments below!




Basic Facebook Tactics social media blog header

Beyond the Basics: Facebook Advertising

Are you on Facebook but haven’t figured out the right way to advertise? Never fear, this article will help expand your reach to new levels. With the right merchandise, messaging and marketing guidance, you can have customers telling the world (literally) how great your store is. If you are in need of an intro to Facebook, check out this post for some helpful tips!

Before we dive into Facebook, let’s chat holiday marketing. Why? Because 47% of consumers started thinking about gift ideas before November even started! Wish lists are being built and shared via social media platforms as we speak. It’s time to join the conversation. So, for this session, we will be marketing hot trends and reliable favorites for the holidays. Make sure you follow Stuller on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter right away to download content to use on your platforms. If you’d like to diversify your assortment, check out how Stuller is wrapping up 2016 in style.

Facebook Advertising: The most powerful word of mouth tool

Facebook Advertising is a powerful tool with more than 10 different types of campaigns to choose from. To keep things simple, we’re focusing on Boosting posts today. Are you ready? Let’s get social.

Step 1. With your Facebook store page open, click in your status bar to create a post. Here you will upload one of the holiday images we’ve provided and write a short, compelling caption to attract customers. Click Publish when your copy and image are both displayed in the status bar.

Facebook Advertising Stuller Inc. Screenshot

Step 2. Check out your brand new post. Does it look exactly the way you want? Great. Next, click Boost Post.

Facebook Advertising Stuller Inc. Screenshot

Step 3. Now, define your audience, budget, and schedule. Don’t worry, further explanation to follow.

Facebook Advertising Stuller Inc. Screenshot

 

Defining and Refining: Making Facebook Work for You

1. Let’s define your audience

This is essentially who you want to see your post. Facebook gives you three targeting options to hone in on exactly the kinds of customers you would like to target. Those three options are—

•  People who like your Page

    Use this option to target many of your current customers

•  People who like your Page and their friends

    Use this option to target current customers and their Facebook friends

•  People you choose through targeting

    Use this option to pinpoint location and demographic specifics

 

Our recommendation: Opt to target either People who like your Page and their friends OR People you choose through targeting.

Why? Because the first option allows you to engage previous customers and new potential customers with similar tastes, while the second option allows you to engage those within a certain location that meet any demographic criteria you may set.

If you choose People who like your Page and their friends, you are done defining your audience and can move down to Number 2. If you choose People you choose through targeting continue reading…

The Edit Audience screen will pop up. Here you can choose the gender, age, locations, and interests you would like to target.

Our recommendation: Set the Location to your city and choose an appropriate mileage radius. For smaller towns, a 25-mile radius might be good, whereas a smaller radius of 10 miles might be best for denser, metro areas. That’s all you have to do. If you want to get a little fancy, you can play with gender and age options or add in some interests such as jewelry or fashion when prompted, but filling out each of these boxes is not required.

Facebook Advertising Stuller Inc. Screenshot

All this time while we were keeping our friends and family informed of our interests and hobbies, Facebook has been gathering this information from your profile to deliver the most relevant content to the right people. Facebook now acts as your personal market researcher, advertising team, and analytics tracker. It’s brilliant, right?

 

2. Choose Your Budget and Duration

Under Budget and Duration, you will choose how much you would like to spend and how long you would like your Boosted Post to run. Don’t know where to start? Try entering a Total Budget of $5 and running the ad for two days. In this case, you would spend $2.50 per day. After the two days, check out the results and determine if you would like to change your spending or duration. Determine what works best for your audience. *Important Note: Stuller has never spent more than $20 on a Boosted Post!

So try it! Get comfortable with the process without breaking the bank. You’ll be amazed at how so little will get you so much. As you adjust your budget and duration options, notice the changes in your Estimated People Reached right below. This is a good tool to use to project the possible outcome of your campaign.

Facebook Advertising Stuller Inc. Screenshot

3. Review Your Ad

Preview your ad on the right-hand side on both the desktop and mobile news feeds. If everything looks good, it’s time to click the Boost button.

Facebook Advertising Stuller Inc. Screenshot

If this is your first time using Facebook advertising, you’ll be prompted to fill out your payment method and other details. Once your account information has been processed and your ad has been approved, it will begin delivering to your unique target audience. Feel free to check in on your ad occasionally to see how many people it’s reaching and if they are liking and commenting on it.

While you wait for customers to engage, check out more products that Stuller has to offer and stock up on all the things you’ll need to close the holiday sales coming through your door.


I’d love to hear how successful your Facebook advertising campaigns are, so comment below with questions and stats. Also, check back for a follow-up post on how to maximize your Facebook advertising campaigns now that you have gotten your feet wet.




6 Simple Steps to Becoming a Lost Wax Casting Pro

Lost wax casting blends old and new in truly remarkable fashion. Our industry is constantly changing, adapting ancient techniques to modern technology. So, we’ve asked our experts to walk us through lost wax casting:

STEP 1 – PATTERN

Wax patterns are made by one of the following ways: carving, build-up, hand forming, or mold reproduction.

 casting wax-treeSTEP 2 – SPRUING OR SETTING UP

Spruing is the leading cause of shrinkage porosity, or the pits you see during polishing. Fix this by ensuring the following:

• The sprue should be thicker than the heaviest part of the pattern.

• It should also be attached to the heaviest part of the pattern as well.

• The sprue should be no longer than is absolutely necessary.

These are much more effective than looking for that optimum (magical) cast temp.

 

STEP 3 – INVESTING 

Investing is more chemistry than craft. Measure your powder and water and follow your supplier’s instructions for mixing, curing, and burnout. Keep this in mind: your casting surface is only as good as your wax and investing procedures.

• Weigh investment material and measure water according to manufacturer’s recommendation.

• Fill flask containing wax pattern and either vacuum or vibrate to remove air from the slurry.

• Allow invested mold to air-dry for two hours or more before starting the burnout.

Lost wax casting investment

 

STEP 4 – BURNOUT

• Place invested flask in furnace preheated to 300ºF. Hold at this temperature for one hour or until the wax has drained.

• Raise temperature at the rate of 300º/400ºF per hour until temperature of 1350ºF is reached.

• Hold temperature at 1350ºF for two hours or more.

• Drop temperature to the desired temperature for casting.

Lost wax casting burnout

Check the burnout oven to be sure there is adequate air supply and exhaust.

 

STEP 5 – CASTING

If possible, use an alloy that is formulated for investment casting. This will give you cleaner, brighter castings and recycle longer. Always add fresh metal to keep it rejuvenated. Unfortunately, you can’t roll or fabricate a deoxidized material.

• Mold temperature at the time of casting is determined by the size of the casting. For example, delicate rings are usually cast into molds of approximately 1000ºF while molds for heavy rings are usually cast at about 700ºF.

• When vacuum-assist casting, the sprue should be about 25% larger than that used when casting with a centrifugal casting machine.

• The weight of gold is 14 times that of wax.

• The weight of silver and bronze is nine times that of wax.

lost wax casting

 

STEP 6 – CLEAN UP

Often, we discount the importance of proper quenching techniques. Quenching at the right time with the correct method for that alloy will ensure good mechanical properties at the bench. Get advice from your metal supplier. All precious metal alloys, especially nickel-white gold, respond well to quenching.

• Flasks containing gold or silver castings can be quenched in water four or five minutes after casting.

• Fire scale and discoloration can be removed with an acid pickle solution.

Lost wax casting clean up

 

 

Here are some of our top recommendations for lost wax casting equipment:

Lost wax casting arbe master cast oil-less vacuum pump

For Vacuum Casting: 22-1305

Lost wax casting Neycraft Centrifugal Casting Machine

For Spin Casting: 22-3600

And for investment:

Lost wax casting prestige unicast
For Gold/Silver: 22-4746
Lost wax casting prestige optima
For Resin: 22-4748
Lost wax casting prestige ferro vest investment
For platinum: 22-4745

Have any lost wax casting questions? Ask away in our comments section below and we’ll get our Tools Tech experts to help you out!




Sizing A Channel Set Mounting

Have you ever experienced the nightmare of sizing down a channel set mounting that has already been set, with the channel running across the shank (see illustration 1)? If so, you may have also experienced the stones falling out or becoming loose. Though this problem does not exist with all channel set mountings, the following tips may help you avoid having to reset or replace a stone.

HELPFUL HINTS:

  1. Cut out the amount needed to size the ring down to required size at the bottom of the shank, leaving the shank open.
  2. Saw completely through the bottom bearing of the head (see illustration 1).
  3. Saw halfway through the top bearing.
  • You may need to bevel the bottom bearing depending on how many sizes the ring has to go down. This allows the shank to bend in from the top.
  • If the ring is solid (see illustration 2 & 3) saw two-thirds of the way through and slightly bevel the saw cut to allow for movement of the ring during the bending process.
  1. Now you can bend the shank in from the shoulders to fit flush. Solder the shank back together at the bottom, then fuse with torch or laser the relief cuts you sawed. The ring will appear slightly egg shaped, so you may not want to round it out completely.
  2. Finish the piece as you normally would. You may need to tighten stones, but the process will keep stones from falling out of their seats/ or breaking.

Another problem you may come across is sizing a ring up that has already been channel set. This creates a completely different problem. Sometimes when sizing up more than one size you may chip or break the stones.

This does not happen with all channel set mountings, but unfortunately it can happen, especially if the stones are close together or if they touch one another. A good example of this is the mounting shown below (see illustration 4). This particular ring needed to be sized from a size 10 to a size 12. All of the stones were touching one another.

ring

Illustration 1

illustration2

Illustration 2

illustration3

Illustration 3

Illustration 4

HELPFUL HINTS:

  1. Saw the shank at the bottom, then saw a relief cut on the inside at the top of mounting (see illustration 4). Slide the ring onto a mandrel, pull the ring down the mandrel with your fingers to a size 11 ¼ being careful of stones. It is not a good idea to go up all at once. This can put too much pressure on the stones and cause stress on the mounting (see illustration 5).
  2. Use a piece of flat or square sizing stock twice the thickness of the shank, you will be hammering it up the rest of the way (see illustration 4). Place sizing stock flush against the opening of the shank, and try to get it flush on the inside of the shank.
  3. Solder your stock in place with hard solder. Let ring air cool. If the shank is not flush on the inside, you will need to remove the excess stock until the inside of the shank is flush. If the shank and stock are not close to being flush, the ring can pop open at the solder joint when hammering the ring up.
  4. Slide the ring onto the mandrel. Round it out slowly to avoid breaking stones. It is important you do not try to round out the top of ring flush with mandrel (see illustration 4). Once you have rounded the ring at the bottom, start hammering on sizing stock with a metal hammer until you have reached the size you need. When hammering up you will need to flip the ring on the mandrel to each side so your shank will stretch evenly. You may also want to leave the shank slightly oval if sizing up more than 1 ½ to 2 sizes. It will be much safer for the stones and place less stress on the mounting.
  5. Once you have reached the size you need, file excess metal off the sides and file top of plug even with shank. By now your plug has been hammered close to the thickness of the shank with a little filing on the outside. File evenly, then finish your ring as you normally would.

Illustration 4

Illustration 5

*It is important to note that increasing/decreasing the size will change the circumference and getting the ring completely round may not be an option.

Do you have any sizing tips? Tell us, in the comments section below.




Three Tips to Simplify the Earring-Setting Process

Every so often, I hear questions from jewelers who struggle with pin vises and breaking earring posts. Broken posts are often mistakenly identified as failed solder joints, but usually these problems can be avoided with proper setting practices. I’d like to share some of my setting tips with you.

  1. Start by using the Universal Hand Vise Kit. The brass jaws will hold virtually any wire basket. Place the setting in the jaws between the upper and lower bezel wires and close the vise. Only light to moderate pressure is needed to secure the setting. This process allows for the setting to be seat-cut, de-burred, stone-set, and polished without ever being removed from the vise.
    universal hand grip
  1. Set your earring with a Thermo-Loc Starter Kit or one pound of Thermo-Loc Sticks. When using Thermo-Loc, the hole in the block should be large and filled with enough of it to sink the bottom of the basket into. While using a reducing flame on your torch, heat the Thermo-Loc around the earring basket and post. Once it’s in position, remove the heat and let the Thermo-Loc solidify. After setting the earring, reheat the Thermo-Loc and remove the earrings. Place in Ultrasonic to clean. (As a side note, the great thing about Thermo-Loc is that it can be molded into any shape. You can also mold it to fit a Benchmate Setter’s Package, bench pin, or a Microblock™ ball vise.)
    setting image 1
  2. Select a Panther bur that measures approximately .25mm smaller (or slightly less) than the stone size you’re setting. This helps to prevent the bur from wrapping around the prong, reduces over-cutting, and keeps the seats level.setting image 3

These practices will not only come handy for your next earring setting, but will also help rid you of any failed solder joints. Happy setting!

What techniques do you use for earring setting? Share your thoughts below.




Get Millennials in Your Door Today

You know that the Millennials, sometimes called Gen Y, are an up-and-coming – and high-spending! – age group. These 86 million 18- to 34-year olds account for $1.3 trillion of consumer spending each year1. Yes, that’s trillion with a t! You also know you have to find ways to reach these guys, but trying to reach a generation that seems to never look up from their cell phones can be intimidating. Never fear: We’ve got five tips to help you reach Millennials in meaningful ways.

1. Look around. Check out other popular non-jewelry retailers who are attracting Millennials and see what ideas might work in your store. Are they hosting social events after store hours? Are they revamping their look? Are they posting new products and deals on social media like Facebook and Twitter? Yes? Then do it, too! Find a non-jewelry retailer who’s doing something new and follow suit. You’ll see new traffic and more sales.

2. Embrace technology. It’s here to stay. And Millennials expect to see it everywhere. Get on board by offering your customers technology-driven experiences. Stuller Showcase is a free tool that allows your customer to see and modify designs while getting real-time price information with your retail markup. CounterSketch Studio allows your customers to customize jewelry with a sales associate on your sales floor. Both are powerful tools that reach a demographic expecting both transparency and personalization.

3. Change your look. Is your store appealing to Millennial customers? Can they come in and “play” with the jewelry? Can they see the craftsmen at the bench? Can they interact with the technology? We know that Millennials don’t just want to shop; they want an experience. With fresh eyes examine your store. Do you have any of the touch points listed above in your store? If not, pick one of them as a starting point.

4. Establish trust. Forty-two percent of consumers would rather purchase their engagement ring from an independent jeweler. There is a trust factor with an independent jeweler, after all, and Millennials, especially, are more interested in a relationship than a brand2. And it’s Millennials who are getting married in droves right now. Are you capturing your slice of that $11 billion bridal-jewelry pie?3 Reassess your bridal offering to ensure that it’s current enough to appeal to their unique tastes and flexible enough to meet their need for personalization. Consider Stuller’s 3C designs or CounterSketch technology that will allow your customers to customize their rings.

5. Show you care, too. Millennials care. They care a lot4. About sustainability, about social causes, about their local communities. Show them you care, too. Start by selling sustainable and ethically sourced products. Use social media to tell them about your commitment to earth-friendly jewelry. Support causes that are important to you and to them by holding fund-raisers and selling products that matter. And develop relationships with other local retailers. Show the work of area artists in your store, use the local caterer for your after-hours socials, and provide treats from your local bakery. It’s a win-win situation: By supporting other retailers, they’ll support you. And you’ll both be reaching those Millennials who care about their community.

Millennials really aren’t the scary demographic you think. With a few simple changes, you can connect with this unique generation in ways that matter.

Interested in learning how to keep pace with the ever-changing retail market? Let us teach you how. Attend one of our Transform Tours. Click here for a list of dates and cities.

What’s your strategy for getting millennials in your store? Do you use any of these tips? Have some more of your own? Share them with us in the comments section.

1 Barron’s 2 Bazzar Voice 3 XO Group 4 Chicago Business