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Make a jewelry wax ring on a 4-axis CNC machine

Freeform jewelry design created using digital technology

The Snake Ring shows how modern digital technology can be applied to create a freeform jewelry artifact. Goldsmith Jon DiNola of JBD Studio has created this absolutely special design, featuring two snakes that are intertwined to form a ring. Each snakes' head is set with a gemstone, and has small diamond as eyes.

Ring design in Rhino
Rhino/Flamingo rendering
The design in Rhino: as wireframe and as rendering.

Jon DiNola states: "The model was built using Rhino (Rhinoceros 3.0). Building the part using NURBS surfaces allowed me to make a perfectly symmetrically organic model quickly and accurately: only the one snake was made and the second is a copy. The snake skin texture was built using Adobe Illustrator and then brought into Rhinoceros and applied to the model."
The rendering was done in Flamingo. "Nothing beats being able to see a representation of a finished product before manufacturing any parts."

Toolpaths in DeskProto
The resulting wax model
Toolpaths in DeskProto, and the resulting wax model.

An STL file was exported from Rhino and then imported in DeskProto. A rotary toolpath was calculated and written by DeskProto. It would have been almost impossible to carve the intricate 3D snake skin texture in the wax by hand.
The part was cut in green carving wax tube with one pass of a fine pointed conical cutter. A Sherline Mill with FlashCut controls cut the part in approximately five hours.

The ring, finished
The resulting Snake Ring in 14K yellow gold, after setting the stones and finishing.

A few undercuts were cleaned up by hand, and next the wax was cast in 14K yellow gold and set with a ruby and sapphire in the snakes' heads and diamonds for their eyes.

Detail image of the wax model
Detail view of the wax model, showing the combination of high surface quality and small details.

Quotation continued: "Leveraging technology played a big part in manufacturing this piece in an economic and timely manner. Deskproto played part by supplying an affordable product for complex toolpath calculation."