By Marv Baskin
As published in The Desert Advocate
The products of each piece of Landstrom's Black Hills Gold begins with the processing of 24 karat pure gold bars. By reducing the 24 karat gold to 14 karat (or 58 percent gold) the durability of the jewelry is greatly increased. The alloyed gold bar is removed from the ingot and is rolled to the desired thickness. The thickness of the sheet depends on the specific piece of jewelry to be produced.
Presses and stamping dies have been used for over a century and are still being used by Landstrom's today in the fine art of jewelry making. For each individual piece of jewelry to be cast, a metal model must first be produced. From the metal model a rubber mold is created. Hot wax is then injected into the rubber mold. Each wax piece is molded on a spruce, which is used to create an airway for the casting process.
The spruce of the wax pattern is then mounted to a wax base. Investment compound is then poured around the pattern in a steel cylinder. Once the compound base is hardens, the rubber base is removed and the cylinder is placed in an oven and baked for several hours. The wax pattern on the inside of the hardened compound is melted away. The process is known as the "lost wax" casting.
A cavity is left inside the hardened compound, which provides a model of an exact duplicate to be cast into gold. Compound parts are individually hand-soldered to the ring frame with the use of gas torches and gold solder.
Great care is taken to ensure that the artists' designs are followed. After the jewelry has been soldered, it is cleaned in a mild acid bath and inspected for quality. In the event that the superior Landstrom's quality has not been maintained, the item is rejected. The piece of jewelry is then plated with 24 karat yellow gold through the electroplating process.
The next step in finishing the jewelry is known as wriggling. Wriggling is the art of creating a textured or frosty appearance, which is present on the leaves. Wriggling removes the 24K yellow gold plating from the red and green leaves, and allows the true colors to be visible.
After this, the veins of each leaf are engraved. Engraving is done with the use of small, hand tools. Engravers carefully carve fine, light-catching patterns on each individual leaf. A great amount or care must be taken in each cut and design.
This is the intricate process which gives Landstrom's Black Hills Gold its individualistic and eye-catching appearance. In offering the last word in quality, tri-colored Black Hills gold jewelry, it should be emphasized that Landstrom's Original Black Hills Gold Creations are unparalleled in craftsmanship and design. Over 80 years of experience and expertise goes into each finished Landstrom's piece. Black Hills Gold is 10 karat gold. Leaf Accents are 12 karat gold. Grape Accents are 10 karat gold. Earring posts, clutches, leverbacks, and hooks are 14 karat gold. It is by federal mandate that this style of jewelry must be manufactured in the Black Hills of South Dakota in order to carry the name "Black Hills Gold".
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