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Instead of carving away the wax to form a model of the ring, for example, the machine grows it layer by layer, with extremely fine details, Nathan says.

“It’s pretty top-notch technology,” he says.

At this point, a customer can try on the wax model to see how the ring fits or how the pendant will look on the neck.

“It starts with that idea, but we make it come to life here,” Justin says.

The next step is creating the mold.

Justin puts the wax model inside a metal flask and fills it with a liquid investment compound, similar to plaster of Paris. When he heats it up, the wax is incinerated, leaving behind an empty space he’ll fill with molten gold or silver.

After the piece has cooled and been broken out of the mold, it looks dull and rough, Justin says.

“It’s like a wood that hasn’t been sanded yet,” Nic adds.

But after it’s filed and polished and any diamonds or gemstones are added, “that’s when it starts to get pretty,” Justin says.

From time to time, a new piece of equipment or a new technique will come along, and they’ll have to figure out how to marry that new technology with their time-tested methods, Thomas says. Doing so “allows us to be more than just a cookie-cutter jewelry shop,” he says. “We create designs.”

That’s important, Thomas says.

“As technology grows, people are more drawn to things that are done by hand. I really believe that,” Thomas says. “That value translates to craftsmanship. You treasure something that’s made by hand.”

The Fainis have won many regional and national awards for their jewelry and were the first in South Dakota to win a national award from the Jewelers of America Affiliate in the design competition.

“It’s really a feather in our hat to be judged and honored by our peers, by other jewelers,” Gerard says. “It’s nice to go to conventions and have people recognize our name.”

But it’s not the awards that keep the Fainis moving forward. It’s their customers.

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