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

“Not the Ring I Expected”
Custom Designed Ring Wax

Hand Carved Wax for a Multiple Marquis Cut Diamonds Band Ring

“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 exactly are you saying?”

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!”

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

Sculptured Wax Modeling for Jewelry

Sculptural Wax Model Making Adds Hot Molten Wax to Create the Artistic 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.

Wax Model Prototype maker

This Machine Makes the Wax From the CAD design

Lute Get’s the Ring He Expects!

Oh yeah…Lute finally got the tight-angled ring he’d always

digital calipers

Now Calipers, Especially Digital ones Really Measure Perfection. Lute’s Calipers are Scary Good Like These

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?

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!

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

Calla Gold

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.


  1. Alison on April 11, 2012 at 8:03 am

    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.

    • Calla Gold on April 11, 2012 at 8:42 am

      When I first started designing, hand wax carving and wax sculpting were the only choices. The CAD wax method is much newer for jewelry use. Wax prototyper machines have been around for quite a while in the machining field.
      Those machines are wicked expensive and can take 2 to 5 hours to create a wax. But for very precise details, angles and designs they are unbeatable!
      I thought I’d throw that picture in showing me working with my CAD guy Rami. He’s a big help to me and part of my team.
      Calla Gold

  2. Tracey Mikami on April 11, 2012 at 12:46 pm

    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

    • Calla Gold on April 12, 2012 at 6:28 am

      Thanks for your opinion! I feel encouraged to design more jewelry! And I’m feelin’ the passion!

  3. Executive Coach on April 17, 2012 at 6:54 pm

    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

    • Calla Gold on April 17, 2012 at 7:30 pm

      Lute was in his words, “really stoked” about his ring. (California surf lingo for quite pleased, although I don’t think he surfs!)
      Thank you for your kind words.
      Calla Gold

  4. Debkumar mondal on July 4, 2015 at 12:29 pm

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

    • Calla Gold on July 5, 2015 at 6:27 am

      Hello Debkumar,
      I do not market these machines. I merely write about them.
      Calla Gold

  5. Craig on October 14, 2018 at 8:53 am

    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.

    • Calla Gold on October 15, 2018 at 12:32 pm

      Hello Craig,
      Since a new wax based on your design would have to be created and then cast as a single piece, it may be more economical to order an existing design in the 22kt gold you desire.
      However if the style you have is what you want it may be worth it to you to get the style you want, but thicker and in the 22kt gold.
      Your Personal Jeweler,

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