What Metal Is Used In School Rings And How Are They Manufactured ?
Q: Large manufacturers of class rings sell a white metal ring called,
Lustrium, or trillium or other similar name. I believe it is actually
some kind of stainless steel. How is the ring manufactured. Is it
castable? sizeable, etc. Expensive equipment to make it?
A:All class rings for schools are produced by lost wax casting. Once the orders are placed for the various sizes of rings, the waxes are made by injecting the liquid wax into reusable silicone molds of various sizes. The waxes are then connected to a large wax sprue-tree with as many as 100 rings on one tree. The tree is placed in casting investment and is allowed to harden. After it is dry it is placed in a burnout kiln and all the wax is burned out. This leaves a negative mold of all the rings and the sprue-tree in one block of investment. The molten metal is poured into the center and the mold is instantly spun at high speed to throw the metal into the ring molds. The entire hot block is then dropped into water, which causes the investment to be blasted away, leaving all the rings and a metal tree. The rings are clipped off and finished. Most school rings are cast out of bronzes of various compositions. Heavy plating usually gives the final surface of either gold, or for a silver look, either white gold or Rodium ( cheap). The solid gold ones are cast out of fairly low grade alloys such as 14 or 18 karat. 14 karat means 14-24ths pure gold. 24 karat gold is pure gold, but is terrible for rings because of it's softness. My parents wedding bands are pure gold and are constantly getting deformed. You can get some rings cast from solid white gold, but it would be very pricey. Stainless steel would be a terrible choice for cast rings. The melting temp is too high for almost any investment shy of ceramic-shell castings, and believe me, ceramic shell castings are extremly expensive. A high-tin phospor-bronze can also be used for white metal castings as well as the old favorite , nickle-silver ( nickle and copper ) Sterling silver is fairly common ( silver and copper ), but tends to dull down. The stones in class rings are almost all synthetic. They are the same composition as real rubies, emeralds or saphires, but can be spotted as synthetics by the lack of natural flaws in the stones. In the U.S., class rings are ubiquitous. They're done in both high schools and colleges. Typically they have the name of the school, the year of graduation, and a whalloping big fake gemstone. In one's senior year, one orders one's class ring. You don't *have* to get one, of course, but most people seem to. A few schools, colleges especially, have their own traditions. MIT's class ring is more like a signet ring, with a beaver on it as "the first engineer." (Less respectful individuals call it "the brass rat.") I've heard that there is an engineering school (or an engineering society?) in Canada that has rings made from iron taken from a bridge that failed disasterously, as a reminder of an engineer's responsibility.