Wax Carving Explained in Jewelry Design-The Three Types of Wax Model Making for Jewelry


Custom Designed Ring Wax

Hand Carved Wax for a Multiple Marquis Cut Diamonds Band Ring

“Not the Ring I Expected.” That was the gist of the inquiry from a new client about a custom ring he'd had made by a local jeweler.

"Are you Calla Gold, the Jewelry Designer?" His voice came strongly through the phone.


I while back I got this call from a guy who’d liked a ring I’d just done for the fiancé of one of his co-workers. He said he admired the detailed angular aspect of the design and asked if we might get together.We set up an appointment for the following week.

Old Jewelry Design Gone Wrong

Lute was an architect and self-described perfectionist and ten years ago he’d had a ring made for himself that he’d designed himself. He’d regretted it ever since.

The underside looked “carved out and messy” and the angles on top never looked right. Lute was big on “correct angles” and it just wasn’t the ring he had envisioned.
“So…did I get taken?” he asked while I examined his ring.

CAD and Jewelry Design

The ring wasn’t ugly, but it was slightly “off.” It definitely didn’t have the exacting lines that Lute wanted.

“It looks like your jeweler made the ring from a hand carved wax,” I said.

“Really? What does that mean?”

Engagement Ring Design in CAD Form

A Recent Engagement Ring Designed by Calla Gold with CAD Specialist Rami

“Basically, he hand carved a small block of wax with an assortment of carving tools. It’s difficult to get the precision you’re looking for that way. Nowadays, we’d use a computer for this type of design."


"A CAD—Computer Assisted Design—program would be employed to design and draw your design and then the wax would be carved by a wax prototype machine.”

Lute nodded knowingly while I explained. Afterwards, he told me he used CAD in his business all the time. “Of course!” he exclaimed. “I should have used that method from the beginning!”

"Don't feel bad," I told him, "we only started printing waxes five years ago. You probably couldn't have used this technology ten years ago."

"How many choices do I have nowadays?" He really wanted the full download on waxes. So you get it too.

The Three Types of Wax Model Making for Jewelry

Engagement Ring in CAD wax

A CAD Created Wax Model

1. Computer Assisted Design. A specialized wax prototype machine forms the wax based on a CAD design.


Scallop Wax model for a pendant

Hand Carved Scallop Wax

2. Hand carving. An actual living being carves the wax with hand tools based on a drawing.

Wax sculpture of an elephant

Wax Sculpture in Process

3. Wax sculpting. In this method, an artist, not only carves, but adds intricate details by applying warm wax to the piece, going back and forth until she’s satisfied.

Choosing the Right Type of Wax Model Making for Your Design

The design of your dreams may need the precision of CAD or the sculptural wax modeling skills of a true artist to bring your ideas to life.

Make sure the designer you work with is familiar with all the methods available for creating of the wax for your special design. Ideally, your chosen custom jeweler would have examples of each and could suggest which would be best for you.

Whichever method you choose, always make sure you carefully look at the finished wax before casting. Don’t settle for something you’re not in love with. Don’t settle for a substitute.

Lute Get's the Ring He Expects!

Oh yeah…Lute finally got the tight-angled ring he’d always dreamed of. We CADed it. He checked the final ring with his calipers! I felt my work was well and truly inspected by him for angular perfection!

What's the Takeaway Message Here?

Pro Jet 3D made wax model

The CAD Wax that is Created in the Wax Prototyper Has Harder White Wax to Give it Strength on the Underside

Know what choices you have and use your power of choice to get the best and most unique custom design available. May your next custom design be one with a happy ending!

Calla Gold

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About Calla Gold

Calla Gold is a Personal Jeweler and Author who takes pride in working with clients one-on-one to integrate their personal sense of style and taste into custom designed jewelry and repaired jewelry pieces.   Unlike typical Santa Barbara jewelry businesses, Calla Gold has no brick-and-mortar location. Calla Gold comes to you, bringing you the jewelry collection you want to see and collaborating with you to create unique custom jewelry. Calla also works with at-a-distance clients.

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12 years ago

I never knew that there was computer assisted design. A machine is doing what I always thought a human was hand carving. Fascinating. I bet that machine costs some dough. Interesting to see you at the computer with the CAD specialist.

Tracey Mikami
Tracey Mikami
12 years ago

Calla, this is a great blog to educate people in what is involved in creating custom jewelry. I like that you drilled down to the wax carving for different types of jewelry designs.
You have the vision and the team behind you to produce magnificent meaningful custom pieces for your clients. Keep up the great jewelry design work Calla, never lose your passion!!! Tracey

Executive Coach
12 years ago

Calla, You amaze me with the depth and breadth of your competence when it comes to design, execution and restoration work of any piece of jewelry that one could possibly dream about. I am sure that Lute must be delighted to have his dreams realized by the amazing personal jeweler Calla Gold!
Dr. Lynn K. Jones, Certified Personal and Executive Coach

Debkumar mondal
Debkumar mondal
8 years ago

Hi I need this projet cad macine 3d pls contect .. marketing partnar .

5 years ago

Hi there l have a diamond ring in 18k gold ,it’s small and l want it recast adding twice the weight in 22k,The diamond is 1/2k can this be done with little fuss or will it be cheaper buying a bigger mount n have the diamond fitted to that.