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Electroforming in Jewelry Making
For most people, jewelry design brings to mind creativity and art. Concepts related to physics and technology seemingly have no place in the workshop of an artist. Yet the new technology of electroforming is opening up doors of opportunities to designers worldwide. It is worth the time of any serious jewelry designer to take a few moments to understand the processes behind this new technology.
To start with the basics:
What is Electroforming? Electroforming is a highly specialized process of metal part fabrication using electrodeposition in a plating bath over a base form (called a mandrel, model or pattern) which is subsequently removed. Technically, it is a process of synthesizing a metal object by controlling the electrodeposition of metal passing through an electrolytic solution onto a metal or metalized form. More simply, a metal skin is built up on a metal surface, or any surface that has been rendered electroconductive through the application of a paint that contains metal particles. Essentially, a metal part is fabricated from the plating itself.
Why use electroforming?
Compared to other basic metal forming processes (casting, forging, stamping, deep drawing, machining and fabricating) electroforming is very effective when requirements call for extreme tolerances, complexity or light weight. The precision and resolution inherent in the photographically produced conductive patterned substrate, allows finer geometries to be produced to tighter tolerances while maintaining superior edge definition with a near optical finish. Electroformed metal is extremely pure, with superior properties over wrought metal due to its refined crystal structure.

Electroformed silver heart
Electroformed sterling silver heard bead / charm

The advantages of electroforming are endless. Jewelry can be made in pure 24 karat gold as well as karat golds ranging from 8k to 18k. The electroforming process makes it possible to create thin, hollow items in complex, three-dimensional shapes. A variety of designs can be produced, including large modern shapes with low weight and uniform wall thickness, and there is no loss of metal in the process; no scrap is generated.
The central disadvantage is that the electroforming technique requires special equipment designed for electroforming. And that’s where Pasternak Findings comes into the picture. Always hot on the heels of up and coming trends and technologies, Pasternak Findings has added a full array of electroformed items to its collection.

Inscribed heart charm of electroformed sterling silver

The technique of electroforming will undoubtedly have an impact on the jewelry industry. For thin, hollow, lightweight, voluminous, and complex three-dimensional shapes, electroforming is unparalleled. Electroforming allows for the realization of designs that are not possible by other techniques, at affordable prices. Among its many uses, electroforming can replicate natural objects—leaves, flowers, shells, and nuts, for example—as well as create interesting shapes from manmade objects. Classic applications for electroformed jewelry include earrings, pendants, brooches, chains and necklaces, charms, clasps, and bangles.
Already online at Pasternak Findings is a full collection of silver electroformed findings: heart pendants, nautical items, beads, clasps, and incredibly life-like coral spacers. The possibilities for inspiration and inventiveness using electroforming technology are infinite.

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