Our manufacturing tradition is one of our strengths, and the way our artisans make it thrive cannot but make us very proud and grateful. We’d like to share this piece of tradition with you — discover here the creative process of Savelli’s medals, step by step.

 

THE DESIGN| Before the medal is the artistic idea. First, a professional sculptor outlines the sketch of the medal, then engraves it on a clay base. Afterwards, the mixed plaster is poured into the clay mold in order to obtain the reverse side of the medal — the so-called ‘negative’ — which is then, in turn, used as a mold for bronze casting.

 

 Plaster and Bronze Cast

Figure 1. Plaster (left) and Bronze (right) casts. Note the dimensions at this stage of the creative process.

 

THE DIE| At this point of the process, the bronze cast is used as the starting point to carve the die by means of our 1922 pantograph (the reducing machine, Figure 2), fitted with a rotating cutting bit (la touchée) that reduces the image of the source cast by reproducing it on a smaller surface (the die). This technique allows the reduction of the size of large relief designs down to the size of a medal, usually spanning between 10 to 16 mm.

 

Pantograph

Figure 2. Our 1922 pantograph (right). The picture on the bronze cast (left) is reproduced by the rotating pit (center) on a die.

 

Such process is repeated three or four times to achieve the optimal level of precision and definition of the picture. It takes between 144 and 192 hours — 48 per session! — to complete the whole procedure. After that, the artist retouches manually the finest details of the picture. The resulting die, called ‘male’, is used to create its own reverse, the ‘female’ die, the latter being the one actually used to coin the medals.

 

Male and Female Dies

 Figure 3. Different mesures of "male dies" for the same medal (left). The male die serves to create the female die (center) that is used to coin the medals (right).   

THE STAMPING| Once created the ‘female’ die, a metal sheet is prepared. The empty medal is then cut out of it, the relief being impressed on the blank medal. Each medal is manually positioned inside the machine press (Figure 4, on the right). When the medal is two-sided, the artisan has to reposition the medal perfectly the two times.

 Striking a Medal

Figure 4. The striking. Golden sheet (on the left), used to cut out the empty medals (center), which are then positioned inside the press.

Once cast, the resulting medal has a long way to go before reaching an attractive appearance. First, a medal stripe has to be removed from the edges of the medal, minor casting flaws get repaired, and the details improved with a chisel. Again, this procedure is 100% manual! Take a look at the Figure 5 below to get an idea.

 

Perfectioning of the medal

Figure 5. The cast medal needs to be perfected.

THE FINISHING| At this point, to give it the finishing touches the artisan sands down the edges of the medal. When needed, the details of the relief are incised again and the stamp is eventually performed on the reverse of the medal.

THE GALVANIC BATH| After being oxidized in a dedicated machinery with the help of pumice spheres for one hour and forty minutes, the medal receives a galvanic bath to intensify its color (rhodium-plating is used for white color, gold-plating for yellow color). In simple terms, the plating consists in covering the surface with an extremely thin layer of metal.

 

Last steps -Medal makingFigure 6. Medal oxidation (left) and plating (right).

 

THE SANDBLASTING| As a next step, surface layer is rubbed away by means of compressed air and sand confer better definition and a distinguished finish to the medal — which is, by the way, characteristic of all Savelli jewelry.

THE PAINTING| Once the borders of the medal are polished, the medal itself gets a finishing layer of transparent varnish for protection. Et voilà: the medal is ready!

 

PaintingFigure 7. The edges getting manually finished and the medal finally varnished.

 

This is our heritage, our quality statement, and our pride. And the fact that our religious jewelry travels around the world to make people happy by reinforcing their faith is proof that the game is worth the candle.