MOUNT CARMEL — When most people think of engagement rings, not many picture 3-D printers, molds and metal melting at 2,000 degrees.
For Darrin and Sheryl Gottman, owners of Gottman's Custom Jewelry, making rings is both an art and a science. Together, they shared the intricate process with Retail Merchant Committee members during a meeting Tuesday.
Darrin graduated from high school in 1985 and attended Gem City College in Quincy, Illinois.
"We studied design, all the different techniques of repair and customization," he said.
Since opening the store at 424 N. Market St. in 1995, the Gottman's have watched as design has changed with advancing technology. In college, Darrin learned a skill called wax casting, that required him to hand carve the design of a ring into wax.
"But you can't wear a wax ring, so you have to make a mold of that," he said. "You bake the mold until it's rock hard in the oven and the wax will burn out completely and a cavity in the shape of the object you want to make will create a mold you can actually work with."
Darrin passed around an example of this molding method that created a small fish pendant.
"Four or five years ago we reluctantly joined the 21st century," he laughed. "We began working with a company that was offering a program called Counter Sketch and it's leaps and bounds from carving wax."
The program allows the Gottman's to virtually design the ring, and then the wax is 3-D printed in Lafayette, Louisiana.
"The wax of that ring will be printed in perfect detail," Darrin said.
The wax can then be sent back to the Gottman's or it can be made into the metal ring there. This has exponentially sped up the process of creating custom rings, Darrin said.
"We can turn around a piece in two weeks — two weeks from start to finish," he said.
With the changing of technology also comes the changing of trends. Darrin said back when he first joined the jewelry making business, gold rings with marquise diamonds were the biggest seller.
"Yellow gold ruled, but then that changed with trend of white gold and princess cut diamonds," he said. "The princess cut diamonds — the square diamonds — just ruled there for a while. Every girl that walked in — if you were 18 to 24-years-old getting married you wanted a princess cut diamond just like your friends."
The Gottman's invited all RMC members to attend their Chamber Mixer scheduled for Thursday from 4:30 to 6 p.m., where they will begin a 20 percent off store wide sale.