Wax or metal?

ring stick with 6 rings on it, alternating metal and wax of knife edge, court and flat ring bands

Any piece of jewellery can be made in different ways. That’s part of the fun of making jewellery: there’s always more to learn! And when you know different methods to get the same result you always have a choice. If you don’t have the metal you can make it in wax, and if you don’t have the wax you can make it in metal.

But besides just using the material you currently have in your studio, there are other things to take into consideration when you decide if you want to make something in wax or metal.


Making something from wax is always going to take longer than making something from metal. Making the actually piece might be faster, but after that you have to send it off for casting and wait for your casting to come back. Even when you do your own casting. There might not be waiting time, but you spend extra time casting your piece.

If you only have a limited amount of time, making the piece in metal is the way to go. But when you’re not in a rush and have other things to work on during your wait time you can look at how long it takes you to make a piece in wax or metal.

Some things are faster to make in metal, like a plain ring. Especially if you use wire that already has the right profile and thickness! Other things are faster to make in wax, like a signet ring. Especially when you use a wax ring tube that already has a signet ring shape!

Close up of bench peg with a octagon signet ring in silver next to a piece of green signet shaped ring tube


Some processes are just time consuming, no matter if you do them in wax or metal. Like creating a repeating pattern on a ring, it’s going to take hours to do in both wax and metal.

Other processes are easier to do in either metal or wax.

Metal is easier when you’re adding material together, and wax is easier when you’re removing material. With metal, you form all your components separately from your sheet and wire metal. Then you add all the components and solder them together until your piece is done. With wax you start from a big block and you remove the wax that’s not needed until your piece is done.

Metal is easier when you make a flat piece, and wax is easier when you make a 3d piece. Metal comes in perfect thicknesses for creating pierced pendants without you having to prepare the metal first. And wax comes in perfect thicknesses to create 3d charms and pieces without having to prepare the wax first!

Close up of bench peg with a slice of blue wax next to an ice cream charm in blue wax of similar thickness

Of course there are always exceptions where adding is easier in wax and making a 3d piece is easier in metal. But in general, when you’re trying to decide how much effort a piece is going to take, these distinctions hold up.


When you make a piece from metal you pay for all of it, including the pieces that you remove during the making process. Sure you can reuse that metal, but it's an upfront cost that you don't immediately get back. It also takes time to get that metal in a workable state again, and that's time you don't necessarily get paid for.

When you make a piece in wax, you only pay for the metal that’s needed to cast that piece. There’s a cost to the wax of course, but with the price/size ratio that you buy wax in it usually comes down to less than €1 a piece. Then there’s also the casting/sprueing fee you pay the caster, which depending on your caster can be on the expensive side (€10/€15) as well.

Depending on the amount of metal you need, the amount of material that gets removed in the making process, (and the current gold prices!) you can decide if wax or metal is a better option.

You should also consider the cost of tools. Yes tools are an investment that you can use for the rest of time, but you might not have the money to invest in ALL the tools you need at once. In that case making pieces from wax is a great place to start until you can invest in the tools needed to make your pieces from metal!

It’s a combo

Your decision to make something in wax or metal is usually based on a combination of time, effort, and cost. And that decision is different for everybody! I’m willing to put in more time and effort if that means the cost goes down. But you might prefer a higher cost if that means it reduces your time! There’s no right or wrong choice, only the choice that works best for you.

And that choice is different every time you make something! You have different priorities at different times. When you can make a piece in different ways you can choose the method that suits you at that time. Even if that’s different every time you make it. In winter I would make something in a cost effective way, but in summer I would choose time effective if that means I can enjoy more time in the sun with a book!

Do what you like best

And after weighing all your options, there’s one more thing to consider. What do you like to do? You are the one making the piece, so you might as well enjoy yourself while you’re making it!

Because let’s face it, the most time, effort, and cost effective way would be to not make jewellery yourself at all! You’re much better off letting someone else make the jewellery and resell it for profit if that’s all you care about.

But that’s not all you care about. You WANT to make your jewellery, because you LOVE doing it! So making jewellery the way you like to make it should definitely be considered as well!

Comment below and let me know if this look into my decision making process was helpful!