In the fall of 2002, we made our first trip to Italy to visit the factories that manufacture the gold chains and many of the other products that we sell. We had the opportunity to tour several facilities, and these pages will give you an inside look at a large Italian gold manufacturing plant.
In addition to the insight we gained into the manufacturing of the gold products that we sell, we also developed close ties to our manufacturers and importers by traveling to Italy. We now have access to some products with limited distribution, and can sometimes buy new products before they are widely available.
|This photo shows the inside of a large Italian gold factory. There are literally hundreds of machines, each one cranking out a particular link and gauge chain. Other machines assist in the finishing of the product.|
|In this photo, Mr. Hacker is shown holding heavy bundles of gold wire. This wire starts out as gold plugs which are poured into a mold. Each plug is then drawn into thinner and thinner wire until it reaches the desired gauge. This wire can reach many dozens of feet in length, and it is cut and bundled into spools which are then fed into one of the many machines.|
|You can see a spool of wire going into a machine in this picture. The wire enters this machine at the left, is shaped into links and then immediately spot welded. The finished chain product is then fed into a spool at the bottom of the machine.|
|Here, an Italian worker makes adjustments to a machine that is manufacturing Figaro chain. As evidenced by the earplugs, you can see that these factories (like most other types of factories) are very loud.|
|Depending on the type of chain being made, sometimes the links are not immediately welded, but rather soldered in a later stage of the manufacturing process. Although there are some hand soldered specialty chains and bracelets, much of the soldering is done automatically as well. There are also separate machines that do diamond cutting, braiding of woven chains, etc. The clasps are soldered on by hand, as is shown in this photo.|
|The final stage is the sorting and quality control. Here, Mr. Hacker holds bundles of 14K chains ready to export to the U.S. Interestingly, although Italy is the worlds largest producer of 14 karat gold chain, gold sold domestically in Italy must be 18 karat purity or higher.|