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Re-Making Father’s Chain

Nicole wanted to surprise her husband at Christmas. He had inherited his late father’s neck chain, the chain had been worn everyday and the links were thin and breaking. Most links were not repairable or were missing as they had fallen off, so the entire chain needed re-making.

Nicole had some family gold that she wanted to use for this chain, including what was left of the original one. The best way forward was to use CAD to recreate the original links and ensure they would fit together again after casting. All of the links were worn out, so we didn’t have one good one to start working from.

CAD is a powerful design tool to help us in this instance, you can see how the chain fitted together inside the computer, we used the links in this computer file to 3D print a wax and cast a ‘Master’ in silver with 8 links on a sprue. We needed 285 gold links to make this chain at 24 inches long.

You can see in the photo that the ‘Master’ is on the bench. The silver master was encased in the yellow rubber and heated to form a mould around it. The rubber is carefully cut open and the silver master removed.

Then the two pieces of rubber were held back together and blue wax was melted and squirted inside, the rubber is carefully opened and the blue wax is removed. 

This process of creating the wax was repeated time and time again until we had the correct amount of links. 

We needed 285 links to make this chain. 

Mark built the blue wax tree by hand, carefully placing each branch and building it up to the top. 

This wax tree gets placed inside a metal tube and a substance called ‘investment’ is poured over the top. It’s similar to plaster of paris.  A vacuum is used to stuck the air our of the investment, and then it is left to dry out for 24 hours.

The investment is placed inside of the kiln and gently heated.  The wax tree melts and is ‘lost’ out a hole in the bottom. 

This creates a mould inside the investment that is an exact copy of the tree, – ready to be turned into a gold one!

You can see the casting machine Mark used for this, he melted Nicole’s family gold in the crucible and ‘flung’ it into the mould. 

The casting machine spins fast and uses centrifugal force to ensure that the molten gold floods into every part of the mould, and that the air comes out quickly. 

This leaves a gold tree inside the investment.  Everything is now very hot, the investment is plunged into cold water and it breaks down, leaving the gold tree behind. 

Here are the chain links still on their sprue. Each one is cut off by hand using a fine saw blade.

They need individually filing smooth, and then cutting and assembling to form the pattern of the chain.

You can see our welder ready to fuse the gold back together. Mark welded every link on this chain, one by one, by hand.

Once all 24 inches were complete, he attached the clasp.

Nicole and her husband were over the moon with the finished chain!

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