All about resin

When it comes to resin, there are so many of them. I’m going to try to show them all here with pros and cons.

All synthetic resins are a two component system, consisting of the resin and the hardener or catalyst. Without the hardener, the resin stays fluid.

There are three types of resin commonly encountered in jewellery making:

Polyester resin

May also be referred to as casting resin. It’s a cheap material compared to epoxy resin with it’s drawbacks. usually can be distinguished by the amount of activator it needs to cure. It needs only a few drops, definitely not 2:1 or 3:1 ratio.

When the activator or catalyst is mixed to the resin, it’s pot time is only minutes. Within a few hours, it’s completely cured and can be removed from the mold.

It’s fumes during drying are very dangerous. Polyester resin have a noxious smell. It requires a respirator and good ventilation to work with this material. The fumes are bad for the environment.

Pros: Cures to a hard finish. Easy to sand and polish. Scratches can be buffed again.

Cons: Not UV stable, polyester resin will eventually yellow by time. It may easily break if dropped on a hard floor.

Polyurethane resin

Polyurethanes get expensive with an increase in clarity and for water clear versions. To cast, it requires a vacuum chamber and polyurethane is very sensitive to moisture while it’s curing. Depending on the contents of polyurethane resin, it might be dangerous, so a respirator might be required.

Pros: Very quick curing.

Cons: Polyurethane resin needs expensive tools to work with, does not accept embedded objects with water content: flowers, wood bark, etc.

Epoxy resin

Epoxy resin is the king of resins when it comes to jewellery making. It’s getting more expensive when it’s water clear and takes long time to fully cure: it could take a few hours to days. Epoxy resin is safe to work with, does not produce dangerous fumes, but ventilation is always a good idea. Epoxy resin jewellery is hard wearing and scratch resistant, making it labour intensive to buff and polish. The end result however is extremely shiny surface.

Pros: Excellent clarity, hard wearing, almost unbreakable.

Cons: Long curing time, expensive.

Summary

As a summary, the most ideal resin for jewellery making is the clear epoxy resin. It can enclose almost anything including flowers, leaves. Epoxy resin jewellery is relatively easy to make.