The Studio – Jewelry Blog by Rio Grande

In the Spotlight: Darla Alvarez of The Gilded Artisan Redesigns Vintage

Oct 15, 2012
2 Comments

The original ring

When old meets new, magic happens. A wonderful family with a wonderful story walks into my shop with an heirloom piece they want to replicate as a wearable heritage for generations to come. The ring they brought me was from a far different jewelry school of thought. Hand-rolled and hand-fabricated with delicate details done with human hand, eye, and inspiration. I face a challenge of crossing time to recreate a master’s masterpiece. I, however, am up for the challenge, and I have 21st century CAD (computer aided design) and rapid prototyping to save the day.

Taking pictures and measurements of the physical ring, I proceed to boot my computer and craft a virtual one. With the power of CAD, I can completely model every detail of the original ring with absolute precision. What my predecessors did with metal tools, I capture with imaginary tools and what once took hours, I can do with the click of a button. The result is a wonderful "old-made-new" moment, and, after I show the rendering to the people who have entrusted me with their family history, I can use my other mega-modern tool to continue.

Making the virtual a reality is not a consideration the original maker of this ring ever imagined, but I am absolutely undaunted by the thought. To accurately and efficiently translate the details of my model into the real world, I utilize the DWS Rapid Prototype Machine. It captures every subtle nuance I promised my client without me having to worry about consistency and reliability. The resulting resin model gives the family their first physical comparison to their beloved heirloom and the comparison is fantastic. I get the go ahead to breathe the life of gold and gemstones into the model and they are giddy with excitement.

Left: A CAD rendering of the ring. Right: A wax prototype of the ring, made with the DWS.

The home stretch of my project bears many similarities to that of the original jeweler who made this ring, and I reach back through time again, casting, filing, and polishing with only a few modern accoutrements. The resin model casts beautifully and I can make quick work of finishing the already smooth surface. Drilling holes and cutting seats, I set the stones that were lovingly chosen for my brand-new antique.

Presenting the ring with a smile, the entire family is elated as their heirloom has been born anew, and it is all thanks to the possibilities revealed through CAD and DWS. I can capture ideas and dreams previous jewelers never could, and I can do it easier than ever before, leaving more time to enjoy with families like the aforementioned, and that is another chance for magic to happen all over again.

Actual physical recreation of the ring

 

 

Darla Alvarez

Posted By

Comments (2)
  1. Very nice work. I can see why the family is so delighted.

  2. Wow, Darla! Very beautiful CAD work and bench work. You took something and made it even better using both new and old techniques and tools. I’m sure the jeweler who created the first one would be extremely impressed. Nice work!


Leave a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Trackbacks are disabled.

Need to register?