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How to Duplicate A Handmade Earring

Written by Annabelle
April 9, 2020

Losing an earring is absolutely painful, because the remaining one is just sitting there to remind you of its missing mate. It hurts even more when the earrings are sentimental in value!
We recently did an earring replication for a client who had lost one part of a pair of handmade earrings, and because of the unique way they were manufactured, she had a hard time finding someone who could create something close to the original. Fortunately for her, we managed to do it. Read on to learn more about how to duplicate a handmade earring. 

How Jewelry Manufacturing Methods Make a Difference

Most people assume that jewelry can all be made the same way; you hammer or melt down a bunch of metals and items magically take shape. This is a myth that annoys jewelers to no end; after all, their craft is a combination of art, engineering, and science! 

Some jewelry pieces are created entirely by hand. The molten metal is worked with by an experienced artisan who creates a hand-carved wax mold, or pre-made components are combined together to create a new item. Other pieces of jewelry are machine made, with unique finishes or effects that cannot be replicated by hand. Even within the category of machine-made jewelry, items can be made with a variety of different machines and different methods, so if a facility doesn’t have die-striking machinery, or stamping tools, they’ll be hard-pressed to mimic an item that was created with those methods. You can think of it as an equivalent to an art medium; if you paint with watercolor, you’re not going to have the same look as someone who paints with oil paint.

This is important to keep in mind when you’re looking for someone to replicate an item. If you want a ring to look rustic and handmade and you go to a jeweler who only deals with 3D printing and casting, chances are it’s going to look slightly different compared to the original. This is especially true if you’re trying to create something that was artisan-made, or handmade. No two artists draw the same way, and this applies to jewelry as well. 

3d-printing-handmade

On the left is a hand-carved ring by Moshe Oved; on the right is a reproduction done by 3D printing

One of the few ways around this restriction is if you have an actual sample of the item you want to recreate on hand. In that case, you can create a mold using the original item- and that’s how we decided to duplicate our client’s new earring

Recreating the Handmade Earring

To start off, Natalie’s earring was actually quite simple in design. It consisted of a starburst patterned charm on a French wire, made from solid sterling silver. After she sent it in for our reference, we decided against creating a 3D design for the 3D printing manufacturing method, as the result would not have come out with the same rough texture as the original. 

duplicate-handmade-earring

The remaining earring.

Using the original earring, we created a mold using a plaster called investment. Once the mold was finished, molten sterling silver was used to cast the new earrings. 

After finishing, we noticed that the original earring had oxidation applied to make the details of the starburst pop. We confirmed this part of the design with Natalie and proceeded to oxidize the new earrings, which were still bright and shiny due to their fresh casting. The charms were then assembled together with the French wires, and the loops were soldered shut to prevent the starbursts from slipping off. 

before-oxidation-earring

The original on the left, the new casting on the right before oxidation.

Natalie was ecstatic to see the pictures after we were finished, and happily told us that they looked near-identical to the original! We were also pleased with the results, and knew that our team had made a good decision to use the mold method for the duplication process. 

If you’re in the same boat as Natalie and you’re struggling to find someone who can duplicate a handmade earring, let us know! Comment below and we’re more than happy to provide you with a consultation. 

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