Not Just Castings – how lost wax casting works and more

At the beginning of 2016 I undertook a placement with Just Castings in Hatton Garden. This was part of the two week intensive Advanced Diploma in Creative Jewellery Making (see previous blog entry about how great this was) which I had completed the previous summer.

Their premises have since moved to a spangly new home next door at 19 Cross Street, where their knowledgeable and patient team can answer all of your silly questions (as they still answer mine on a regular basis) about their services. These services go far beyond just casting to CAD design, 3D printing, plating and finishing. However, the moulding and casting process will remain forever the most fascinating to me.

I was privileged to spend two days learning the mould making and casting processes. I gained an overview of the CAD, 3D printing, finishing and plating, which can be done there behind the scenes, whilst two of my own wax pieces took their own journey into silver and brass.

I returned for two afternoons of finishing these pieces. This involved de-sprueing – the sprue is the entry point for the metal into the piece (before my placement I called this a spout) and polishing a silver ring, also finishing and rose-gold plating a brick bead for a necklace with Chris and Adrian at the studios just down the street. There was a  professional setter working away in the same studio, so I got to take a peek at this fiddly precise work too.

My illustration of the casting process, complete with spelling mistake and bunnies which were cast from pasta shapes.

I took a lovely little refresher tour with Theo recently, for a helpful reminder of the time I spent learning the ways of JC.  The process used is called lost wax casting. Lost wax casting is an ancient technique, but this centrifugal, mechanical process is the most accurate way of achieving intricate results. This modern way of casting has its roots in dentistry. To my delight I discovered gold tooth caps on the casting trees whilst on my placement – it’s nice when traditions are upheld. Items can be brought in three different ways to be transformed into a range of metals, but at some stage they need to be a wax. You could bring in a hand-carved wax piece, a model or master to have a mould made to then make waxes or a 3D design, which can be printed or milled from sheet wax.

It’s a positive to negative to positive process. The mould making stage is to create waxes from existing objects or multiples from the same original wax and allows for more types of items to be cast. These moulds are custom made to the size of the piece from a latex mixture.

Bespoke cold moulds setting in their frames

Once these are set and the piece from within is expertly cut out by hand, the moulds are ready to make waxes using the vacuum wax injector. The hot wax cools into shape in the rubber mould and the wax is removed and another can then be made in the same way shortly after.

Wax made using a cold mould

These waxes are then skillfully arranged on specific trees in accordance to their requirements, which metal, how delicate the piece is etc. Cast in place pieces (a technique where stones can be cast within a wax piece) go separately, as they need to be in a different oven set to a different temperature. The trees go into flasks, the holes of the metal flasks are taped up and the investment (a type of plaster, made up in the vacuum mixing machine) is mixed and poured into the canisters with the wax trees inside, then left to set. The next step is for the canisters to go into the de-waxing chamber for the majority of the wax to be steamed away. This leaves just a film of wax on the impression that will eventually be filled with metal, before going into the oven overnight to melt away the remaining wax and strengthen the investment plaster. There are three ovens running on 24 hour cycles, to allow for processes like casting in place and also so that all of the casting eggs are not in one hot basket.

Vasco creating wax trees

Once out of the oven, the canister full of negative impressions left by the wax goes into one of three casting machines. The largest being the vacuum centrifugal machine. This will spin the canister while a crucible will dispense the required molten metal into the voids to reach the hollows of the end of each branch of the tree.


Centrifugal casting machine

Back in the day I am told this was done by sling shot, so a traditional caster would be super strong from swinging their castings around their head, pretty cool stuff!

These are then cleaned with a high-pressure washer (this part reminds me of the opening credits of The Simpsons when Homer is at work) to clean off the investment plaster.

The metal tree, free from its canister and most of the plaster then goes into acid to get cleaner and get rid of any oxidisation.

Metal tree fresh from the canister

Pieces are then cut down from the trees and prepared for collection.

Wax giraffe and metal giraffe made from a pasta piece using a cold mould and lost wax casting process

This is where the process usually stops on the casting side of Just Castings, but as you will recall, they don’t do just casting! For me I take whatever silly thing I have decided to turn into metal this time and pop off to try and make it wearable (sometimes returning to get something plated), but there is still a whole separate underground grotto of finishing down the street. If decide you would like your pieces finishing, polishing, plating or stones setting these guys have got you covered there too.

Adrian finishing a ring in the workshop

So give casting a try, it’s magical, but don’t take it lightly that even if your brother ain’t that heavy you may want an estimate before you get him cast in platinum. For a really enlightening look at their processes, Just Casting have this lovely video ,and there is a handy FAQ’s section on the website too. But if in doubt just ask, they are a delight, see:

Lil Adams is the London Jewellery School Sundays Studio Manager. Lil studied Fine Art in Leeds and lived in Melbourne before travelling about and settling in London. She now works at the British Architectural Library and enjoys making jewellery with found and natural objects and is shamelessly addicted to casting (as you can see!)

Fancy giving wax carving a try? We have some classes at the London Jewellery School and online at Jewellery School Online as well as a starter kit available.

In London

We have lots of wax carving classes at the London Jewellery School for beginners and advanced learners including an evening taster class, a five-week evening class and day classes so do check out our courses and available dates on our website.




Online courses

We have a FREE wax carved ring making online course with tutor Sophie Arnott. You will learn to apply your designs to your wax piece, remove excess wax and create a full 3D design of your choosing. Following that, Sophie will show you how to file your wax piece into shape, remove any file marks and sand and refine the piece ready for casting. You will also learn how to create a ring to size and some recommendations on casters to use.

beginners-wax-carving-rebecca-steiner-jewellery-school-onlineIf you enjoy that course then consider our more comprehensive beginners wax carving online course which covers ring making, pendant making. The course launches on 26th March 2018 and is currently available at a pre-sale price of 50% off. CLICK HERE FOR 50% OFF – VALID UNTIL 26TH MARCH 2018 ONLY





At the London Jewellery School we are also selling wax carving toolkits which have everything you need to get started! The cost is £100 and includes UK postage (for postage outside the UK please email us at for a postage quote)

Click here to see what you get in the kit and to purchase

We also have a set of three wax ring blanks for sale for £12.99 plus postage, perfect if you want to get started with rings straight away!


All prices are correct at time of blog publication but please note that they are subject to change





Jewel Day-All that glitters

Often in life it’s the genuine article, the purest and most natural, which we value most. All gemstones have a special month to shine, see ‘Birthstones’. So it’s worth exploring the joys of the unreal, underappreciated or synthetic of the jewellery world on Jewel day.


Let’s first take a look at the useful, synthetic, Cubic Zirconia (aka CZ). CZ may not be the product of the forces of nature but it’s no fake and has much to recommend it for use in jewellery making. Low cost, durable and flawless, these faceted beauts can be made in many colours. And Cubic Zirconia is up there with diamond in strength, measuring 8 ½ to a diamond’s 10 on the Mohs* scale.

Next, let’s turn our starry-eyed attention to the Druzy. Druzy is a crystal coating on top of a colourful mineral. These crystals can vary in size and are commonly found on quartz, but also garnet, calcite, malachite and dolomite. Usually found where rocks have contact with water that can evaporate, the crystal finish is the last layer of growth. These are naturally occurring gems, but they have the tendency to look manufactured due to the overly glittery appearance of the crystals and that the stones can be coloured. London Jewellery School tutor Amy Keeper often utilises Druzy stones in her work.

Jeweller Nikki Couppee experiments with different combinations of synthetic materials and resins in the making of her flamboyant hologem pieces. She uses everyday materials like silver foil to replicate the appearance and lustre of gemstones with an astonishing variety of results.

Couppee’s work may be shiny and pretty on the surface but its meanings run deep and reflect on themes of jewellery’s role in society and the psychology behind adornment. Her early jewellery making experiments were products of a hurricane that destroyed the area of Florida where she lived in. Leaving a plethora of materials broken from the houses that were swept away, young Couppee would create jewellery from these pieces built up like mosaics. It’s not what you’ve got, it’s what you do with it. Also (unrelated), some of her pieces glow in the dark!

Whether your gems be real or fake, we have a number of courses that can inspire you to shine with them.

*Moh’s scale is named after Frederick Moh who invented a scale for hardness based on the ability for minerals to scratch each other.







Learn wax carving for free

Join Jewellery School Online in the brand new, FREE online ‘wax carved ring’ class and learn how to use jeweller’s wax to make a unique ring, how to get it cast in the metal of your choice and much more.

This video course gives you step by step instructions and helpful hints to get to grips with this versatile medium, which is perfect for anyone making jewellery for fun or as part of a jewellery business. The course is all online so you can access it anytime and comes with a complete set of downloadable notes to support your learning.

If you are anything like us and love making jewellery, this is a great way to learn a new technique from the comfort of your own home.

So come join in the fun, enrol now and get started making your wax pieces in no time!

P.S. We also provide full info on what basic tools and materials you will need and how to get set up making at home.

Click here to join the class for free


beginners-wax-carving-rebecca-steiner-jewellery-school-onlineIf you enjoy that class or have already tried wax carving before why not pre-enrol on our online beginners wax carving course. This goes into depth about carving designs including pendants, sizing, filing and finishing your cast pieces and much more.

The course will be released on 26th March 2018 and will cost £79 but if you enrol now you can get the pre-sale price of £39.50, that’s 50% off!

Click here to find out more and to access the 50% off discount


At the London Jewellery School we are also selling wax carving toolkits which have everything you need to get started! The cost is £82.55 and includes UK postage (for postage outside the UK please email us at for a postage quote)

Click here to see what you get in the kit and to purchase

We also have a set of three wax ring blanks for sale for £12.99 plus postage, perfect if you want to get started with rings straight away!


Prefer coming to London for a class? We have lots of wax carving classes at the London Jewellery School for beginners and advanced learners including an evening taster class, a five-week evening class and day classes so do check out our courses and available dates on our website.

World Book Day-1st March

Never judge a book by its cover they say and certainly not on World Book Day. And especially when investigating the work of Jeremy May. Here, beneath what is bound,  a ring, a bangle or a necklace could be found.

May uses a top-secret lamination technique to create bespoke pieces from a bookkeeping the original binding as a beautiful box too. You could probably still get the gist of the story reading around one of his luxury adornments.

Here’s a nice little video about his process and you don’t have to read between the lines for the booky puns.

If this inspires you to pick up a book, your tools or take back your library books have a wonderful World Book Day.

Job opportunity – Tutor in Gemology


We are recruiting for our talented tutor team!


We have a popular evening taster class Introduction to Gemstones and we would like to add a more advanced one day class in Gemology to our course offering. In this role you will write and deliver a one day course that covers the topic that is informative, interactive and interesting for our jewellery making students. You will also write course notes that will be sent out to our students prior to attending the course.

Person specification

You will have

  • A demonstrable expertise in gemology
  • An ability to pass on your knowledge and enthusiasm of the subject to our students
  • Teaching/training experience preferred but not required


The number of classes that you teach will be agreed with and scheduled by our general manager. We run classes seven days a week so occasional work at weekends will be required.

One day classes run from 10 until 5pm with an hour lunch break. You are required to arrive by 9.30am to set up your classroom and to pack up at the end of the course.

Evening taster classes run from 6.30-9pm. You are required to arrive by 6pm to set up your classroom and to pack up at the end of the course.


Questions? Email us on or give us a call during office hours on 0203 176 0546

Ready to apply? Please send your CV and covering email about why you think you are suitable for the job to We look forward to hearing from you!


Valentine’s Day-Jewelling couple Lisa Walker and Karl Fritsch

Valentine’s Day may be about the love an individual has for another person, but here at London Jewellery School we are all about the love of making jewellery. So on this lovey-dovey day I would like to shine a spotlight on one of my favourite jewellers, Lisa Walker, who happens to be married to another very interesting jeweller, Karl Fritsch.

There are few couples I would look to and feel real jealousy about the dynamic of their relationship (maybe Grayson and Philippa Perry) but these two metalsmiths are something special to aspire to.

Karl Fritsch’s work is normally hard as nails, see above, so we can forgive a bit of soppiness for his wife, especially when he simply carves her name into the face of a signet ring. All of his work has a pretty rugged aesthetic with little romantic kitsch-ery. My general feelings about Valentine’s Day are illustrated in ring form by this little guy by Fritsch, in silver set with Sapphires below.

But, if you have more of a softer side, you may appreciate this endearing self-hugging neckpiece by Lisa Walker.

Another necklace by Walker, ‘Karl’s off-cuts’, recognises their connection in life and jewellery.

A slight topical diversion on this day to celebrate these two jewellers with entirely different styles both working in a very unique and fun way. If you still need a hit of love, check out these hearty offerings from Gregory Larin and David Bielander.

Gregory Larin ‘hearts’ ring

David Bielander ‘Cardboard Heart Bracelet’


Would you and your partner like to join us for an evening with a professional jeweller and make rings for each other? Why not join us this Valentine’s day for a great alternative to the boring meal and go away with your own unique creations. For more information click here. 

Lil Adams is the London Jewellery School Sundays Studio Manager. Lil studied Fine Art in Leeds and lived in Melbourne before travelling about and settling in London. She now works at the British Architectural Library and enjoys making jewellery with found and natural objects and is shamelessly addicted to casting.

Applications invited for London Jewellery School Student Jeweller of the month


The London Jewellery School is delighted to announce a new programme – student jeweller of the month, and we invite applications.  Each month we will be showcasing the work of one student including exhibiting their work in our London studios as well as featuring them on our popular blog, instagram and other social media. 

Who is eligible?

To be eligible for student of the month

  • You need to have attended at least one class at the London Jewellery School
  • The jewellery you are displaying needs to have been handmade by you
  • You need to have enough work available to display in the glass cabinet 

It is free to enter and we welcome applications from all types of jewellery making including silversmithing, goldsmithing, silver clay, beading, resin, perspex, mixed media and more.


What if I’m chosen?

We will choose a winner each month and you will

  • Have your work displayed in a secure glass cabinet in our Hatton Garden studios. The London Jewellery School is open 7 days a week and this is a great opportunity to display your work in prestigious Hatton Garden and you are invited to display your prices and business cards
  • Be promoted on our popular social media channels and on our blog, one of the top ten jewellery blogs in the world according to Feedspot
  • Receive a London Jewellery School certificate


Interested? We’d love you to apply! This is not just open to those with their own jewellery business, we are interested in promoting the work of student jewellers at different stages of their career so please do consider applying.

For more details about the opportunity please see the information on our website, where you will find the online application form and details of how to ask any questions you have.

Good luck!





Pantone Colour of 2018-Ultra Violet-will purple reign again?

Said to communicate originality and visionary thinking towards the future, Ultra-Violet makes a welcome entrance to kick start 2018- a bit of forward thinking is just what we need. Take a look at how these jewellers have also taken to this shade to inspire your own creations this year.

Jewellers have many a purple shade of stone they can turn to in celebration of this announcement from Pantone, such as types of Sapphire, Tanzanite, Tourmaline and of course Amethyst. Though there are many who have favoured alternative materials to celebrate the colour purple too.

Tara Locklear uses materials away from their natural environment to create bright and beautiful pieces. Her work often exposes the colourful layers of recycled skateboard decks in her bold pieces, as with this cheeky pair of earrings.

Here we see a paler shade of concrete tinged with gold for a neckpiece of intriguing forms.

All colours seem to naturally resonate with Britta Boeckmann’s work in wood and resin including including this bold shade.


You might feel you want to go all out with Ultra Violet this year, change your world, paint a feature wall. Or you could take a splodge from Xenia Walschikow’s palette and put your paint to a portable decorative use.  These experiments in the colour of the moment are the makings of what will become statement neckpieces and bold gestural earrings.

Our pal purple pops up again to offset these strong, yet light and flexible neck art pieces by Walschikow.

There is always room to ‘kick it old skool’ with a twist when working with a strong colour. As we see with this pink topaz in its unusual contrasting yellow lozenge setting.

Whatever medium you favour in your making, maybe try letting in some purple tones to guide your future this year with Ultra Violet.

January Birthstones-Garnet-Give me strength

Weary or rested from celebrating or resting over the December break, January may feel like a rough month to have a birthday. But these January folks are not down-hearted. They are ambitious leaders, who love to learn new things and take living seriously. They also have a cracking birthstone in garnet to back them up, thought to bring strength, good health and prosperity.

This beautiful rock can be found in many colours but most commonly in the red of almandine and pyrope garnets. Iron and magnesium cause the colour differences in these stones.

Garnet has been used in digit decoration from Romans times, with these simple styles still holding their own in contemporary adornment as we see here in this mercury ring by Astley Clarke.

It is thought that the name garnet derives from the Latin for pomegranate ‘granatum’, due to the similarities of colour of the fruity innards. This is a possibility explored in detail by ‘Winged Lion‘ jeweller Sergey Zhiboedov with their garnet pomegranate pieces.


Another fruity offering comes from Alison Maclead with this ring that suggests a cluster of berries or grapes.


London Jewellery School tutor Helen Walls often illustrates the point that a single gem against silver is a winning combination and proves this again with a simple blood-red garnet droplet from a textured hoop.

So if it’s a little or a lot of your birthstone you wish to pin down to your crown. Have no fear to start the year, take the lead and get some inspiration in one of our classes.

Grow your jewellery business in 2018 – FREE ONLINE MASTERCLASS

The new year is a brilliant time to look forward to your plans for the year/s ahead and the direction you want to take your jewellery making and… well, your life in general.

If you run or are planning to start a jewellery business there are many things you can do to push yourself forward this year and ensure you reach your goals. Do you want to increase your sales, build more followers on social media, launch that new website work on your pricing, develop a new product range or re-brand your business? Whatever your goals, we want to help you get there.

Our award-winning founder and jewellery business mentor, Jessica Rose is hosting a series of FREE online masterclasses this January on how to ‘Grow your Jewellery Business’. Everyone is welcome and of course LJS students are extra welcome as supporting you to achieve success in your ventures is top on our priority list.


“ I would love to visit every LJS student who wants to run a jewellery business and give them personal mentoring! However, it’s just not possible with over 15,000 students so an online session that everyone can attend is the perfect solution’ Jessica Rose

The session will last around an hour  and is suitable for beginners as well as experienced business owners and Jessica will take you through:

  • 3 things you can do today to grow your jewellery business this year
  • An 8-step roadmap that will guide you on exactly how to grow any jewellery business
  • – The key reasons jewellery businesses fail and how to avoid them in your business
  • – Plus a free downloadable worksheet and checklist for growth to work alongside Jessica in the session

Jess has run 5 different jewellery businesses over the past 10 years and has won 6 business awards for the growth and success of some of those businesses. As well as making plenty of mistakes (which she will tell you about herself!) so there is a wealth of knowledge to learn from, not to mention her wonderful team of tutors and experts who also offer business support through our classes and online programmes.

There are only two live sessions left, with limited spaces and they end next week, so do get in quick if you would like to join. Pick your date and click on the link below to sign up:


Monday 15th January 11am (GMT)- Sign-up –

Thursday 18th January 8pm (GMT)- Sign-up –


Of course, this is not only a great opportunity to learn about building an amazing jewellery business but is also a great chance to network with other jewellers (we usually have lots of them in each session) and you can ask Jess any questions about your business in the Q&A section at the end of the live Masterclass.

We will also be sharing a very special offer for the upcoming online Jewellery Business Bootcamp course which you can find more details about here:


We look forward to seeing you there

Until next time,
Happy Making x