Grant Helps Kickstart Casting Effort at Rona Fisher Jewelry Design
Rona Fisher Jewelry Design is the proud recipient of a $10,000 Stabilization Grant from The Merchants Fund (TMF). Founded in 1854, TMF is a Philadelphia-based nonprofit with a long history of providing grants and loans to help local small businesses remain stable and viable in the face of challenges, opportunities, and change. Stabilization Grants must be used for a specific purpose. Rona has used her grant towards the purchase of a brand-new state-of-the art induction vacuum casting machine.
New Studio, New Casting Venture
“As soon as we got settled in our new, larger studio last summer, I began thinking of doing our casting in-house,” Rona said.
She now had the space to set up a casting station. But she needed a lot of equipment—and having worked with substandard casting equipment in the past, she knew she wanted top-of-the line machinery. Cost was a factor.
"I estimated the costs, including the machine, a furnace and hood, ductwork, various tools, electrical and plumbing work, and the raw materials—gold, silver, and alloys—at around $20,000,” Rona explained. “The grant from TMF defrayed 50 percent of the costs,” she added. “We are excited that TMF is backing the business as we grow.”
Why Go to the Effort of Casting In-house?
With regard to being more mindful of her footprint, Rona said that this particular type of casting machine is environmentally clean (meaning it vastly lessens exposure to toxins in the studio when melting the metals ) and energy efficient.
However, the main reason for casting in-house is that “it allows us to control our precious metals sources. We can now ensure that we are buying our metals only from ecologically friendly and conflict-free refineries,” Rona said.
Rona’s designs are inspired by nature, and the idea that her creations could be having a negative impact on the foundation of her inspiration had been bothering her for quite a while. She decided it was time to take action and guarantee that the metals she works with are coming from clean sources.
From a creative standpoint, casting in-house gives Rona much more opportunity to be inventive, allowing her to play with the casting process and offering her and her staff much more freedom as artists and makers. “Timing is important, too,” she said. “We will be able to create the pieces with less waiting time from idea to finished piece when we cast them here.”
“Refining is a complex process that involves using gases and acids to extract precious metals,” she said. “We are now buying from refineries that have taken the time, effort, and money to clean up their operations. This is a first step in controlling our raw materials, ensuring that the gold and silver we buy are refined in a way that has minimal impact on our environment. Working with refineries that share my values has become increasingly important,” she added.
Rona is currently buying her precious metals and alloys from two refineries, both of which have certifications that the metal content is 100% recycled; that their buildings are green, meaning that they save energy, water, and resources; and that they recycle electronic materials in a way that is socially and globally responsible.
“We also want to be sure that we are not inadvertently supporting any kind of hate group or terrorist organization, and that the refineries with which we work ensure proper working conditions for their employees according to U.S. labor laws,” Rona added.
This exciting new casting venture will guarantee that your next piece of Rona Fisher jewelry—and all your future pieces!—will be eco-friendly.