In celebration of National Manufacturing Day, here's a look at how ETTA JANE cuffs are made.
ETTA JANE jewelry is designed in-house by Brandy (ETTA) Holbrook. With a vision to create jewelry that’s a little different than what’s already out there, Brandy’s designs capture the power & beauty of art, architecture, and nature.
Each piece starts with a simple sketch that is then brought to life with 3D modeling software. 3D modeling provides the perfect platform for creating beautifully intricate designs that will hold up during the manufacturing process.
Prototypes of the designs are 3D printed in plastic to confirm size, fit and aesthetics. Once the designs are finalized, molds are created. This involves making a wax model of the design, coating it with a refractory to form a mold, and heating until the wax melts and runs out of the mold. Silver or brass is then poured into the empty mold to produce the raw piece. From there, each piece is engraved, polished, and plated with gold, rose gold, or rhodium.
While the process sounds simple and straightforward, ETTA JANE cuffs are extremely challenging to make. Creating a high resolution wax model is difficult due to the size and pattern of the cuffs. Many supports are used to maintain the integrity of the pieces while they are being 3D printed. The molding process is also a challenge as it is a bit of an art to create a mold that will allow the hot metal to flow freely into all the spaces within the pattern. Finally, casting the cuffs in metal is a slow and difficult process. Few jewelry manufacturers are equipped to produce such large pieces of jewelry. While it is relatively easy to produce many small pieces of jewelry at one time, large cuffs normally must be made one at a time and require larger casting equipment and ovens.
ETTA JANE cuffs are produced with a brass base and then plated in 14K gold, 18K rose gold, rhodium, or black rhodium. In addition to being cost effective, brass provides a nice level of pliability, enabling the cuffs to be adjusted to fit any wrist while still maintaining their overall shape.
Sterling silver is the main base metal used for ETTA JANE earrings and necklaces. We use a low tarnish silver alloy that has a bright, beautiful color and is easy to care for.
To learn more about the metals used at ETTA JANE, check out the articles below: