How We Make Our Cufflinks

How We Make Our Cufflinks

At Fils Unique, we’re proud to make our cufflinks right here in New York City with a team of passionate and talented artisans. We love to know the stories behind the special objects in our lives (we tend to think it makes great dinner conversation), and we suspect you do too, so we thought we’d explain how your Fils Unique cufflinks are made.

Design: It all starts with design, of course. As one of the most exciting cities in the world, New York offers a constant stream of inspiration. From avant-garde architecture to world-class art or even the unique adventure that is daily life in the Big Apple, our playground is vast and our ideas endless.

3D prototyping: Once we have a sketch we love, we use a fancy software to turn it into a 3D prototype thanks to the wizardry of 3D printing. Every time a new master wax model comes out we’re like kids in a candy store; watching an idea we dreamt up progressively come to life never gets old.

Hand-carving: After we recover from the excitement, we put on our inspection hat and our magnifying goggles (it’s quite a look) to evaluate every millimeter, grove, and line of the wax model. We refine each detail by hand-filing, carving, engraving, embossing, and a few other technical “-ings” until the wax model looks absolutely perfect to us.

Mold making: Our next step is to make a silicon mold from the wax model. Our silicon is the best of the best, since it allows less than 1% shrinkage. We’re serious about using the highest-quality materials and the most refined methods so, as far as we’re concerned, nothing else will do. Rafael, our mold craftsman, has been in the game for more than 30 years and also teaches moldcrafting. He’s a master in the field, and we wouldn’t dare create a mold without him.

 

moldmaster is opening silicon molds

Cutting the mold is a very sensitive moment.
It requires dexterity and experience

 

Wax making: We let the mold get a good night’s sleep before (gently) cutting it. From then on, each and every wax model created from the silicon mold is carefully checked for defects, like distortion or porosities. We discard any cufflink that doesn’t entirely meet our quality standards. No hurt feelings involved.

Metal casting and preparation: The ones that do make the cut are sprued with a treelike structure of wax, which is placed in a flask (a steel container) filled with investment powder and water. The flask is air-vacuumed to remove all bubbles in the investment. Thereafter, the flask is heated in a kiln at extreme temperatures (up to 1350 °F) for a few hours to melt or, rather, evaporate the wax imprisoned in the flask. The evaporated wax leaves a vacuum and the flask is then cooled, before going in a centrifugal casting machine that uses the weight of the molten metal and centrifugal force to fill the vacuums of the flask.

 

wax pieces are assembled onto the wax tree

The frogs waxes are sprued onto a wax "tree"


We know we may have lost some of you by now, so if this is getting too much, you can also watch our video of the process. No judgment.

 

pouring investment in flask

The investment is poured in the flask

 

kiln in action

The kiln's heat goes up to 1350 degree. 

It lasts several hours to evaporate the wax tree and harden the investment.

 

Still here? Great.

Metal Cleaning: At last the flask is fully immersed in water to remove the investment. That leaves only the metal tree (in silver or gold, for example), and the casted rough pieces are then sawn off it.

 

sawing off silver casted pieces

Frogs casted in silver are sawn off the "tree"

 

Polishing: It’s time for the cufflinks to shine! Our master polishers get to work on the next steps: assembling and polishing (obviously) but also tumbling, lapping, and buffing. It’s a total makeover.

cufflinks assembled by hand

The cufflink back is assembled onto the cufflink body.
A steel spring is inserted so that the back stays locked in place.

 

 

jeweler master working at bench

Our master polishers assemble and polish each cufflink by hand, one by one.


Painting: We’re particularly fond of our painted styles (which burst with color and intricate details). They’re painted right after the polishing stage using extremely precise methods. Some models, such as the Rangda, require the highest attention to details and patience….a lot of patience: up to 4 hours of hand painting for each pair.

 

artisan painting a cufflink by hand with enamel

Our artisans add the colors onto the polished silver frog.

 

Final inspection and polish: After another round of careful inspection, our jewelers begin the process of assembling the cufflinks with their backs. A steel springs ensures that they stay perfectly put in your cuffs. We’d never let them get away. (And if a cufflink did manage to escape, you can always order a replacement. We want you to enjoy your Fils Unique beauties for years to come.)

 

final inspection, quality control of the finished cufflink

The final quality check.

 

And of course, we inspect each pair of Fils Unique cufflinks once more before giving it a stamp of approval (and a warranty).

That’s it! A simple 20-step (we mentioned only the most important ones) process sprinkled with love and dedication to bring you truly unique accessories of the highest standards.

Interested in discovering more of the Fils Unique world? We’d love to hear from you. Drop us an email at contact@filsunique.com.