903 Parkway St
Conway, AR 72034
Located in the historic district of Conway, Arkansas (about 30 minutes from Little Rock)
We have been designing jewelry since around 1976. In 1981 we began manufacturing jewelry as "Specialty Casting". Since then we have done everything from designing and manufacturing jewelry findings to custom wedding rings. Today we manufacture jewelry for many jewelry retailers and jewelry distributors located in the United States.
Our mission is to provide the highest quality jewelry. Over the years we have refined our casting and finishing techniques to produce superior products.
We offer complete production of items in 10kt, 14kt, 18kt yellow, white, green and rose gold, and sterling silver: casting, assembly, finishing, and stone setting.
Back in 1975 I started in the jewelry industry in Cincinnati. I was asked by a German model maker if I wanted to make some extra money. He was one of my dad's friends. I started out injecting waxes, sizing rings, and then do a little jewelry work on the bench. Atkins Casting was the name of the company. When I got good enough sizing he introduced me to the production foremans at IB Goodman. They hired me as summer help as a production jeweler. One of the first jobs I had was assembling F-D tops. A mans ring that has a solid diamond in the top and bars from all four corners. Service Merchandise was selling them. They were one of the big accounts. I soldered the little square tops on these mens ring. After that I did masonic jewelry and that became my specialty at IB Goodman.
I originally got into jewelry to make extra money and it turned into a career. Back then turquoise was big. I was selling turquoise rings out of my locker at high school to students and teachers. Everyone knew my dad because he was making class rings for everyone at that time.
I got tired of being an assembly jeweler at IB Goodman so I went down the street to work in the casting department Koop Diamond Cutters. After that I went to Albeque, NM and worked for Felco Jewelry Industry, one of the largest pearl importers in the country. I worked in the casting, wax department and investing. Then I went to work for James Avery for a bit.
From August 1976 to April 1977, I served in the United States Air Force, until I was discharged due to a medical disability.
After working in the oil fields for a few years, I got back into the jewelry business and went to work for Stuller Settings in 1980. While working at Stuller, I began my own line of jewelry on the side. Then I went into business for myself as Specialty Casting and left Stuller Settings. My brother Pat started working for me around then. The slide bracelet slides I started making around 1985. I always had Specialty Casting while working for other companies at the same time. I went to Houston, TX and worked for Gold Imports of America. Worked there about 2 years, then opened up our own business in Houston. I raised some investor money, hired some people, and started a plastic settings company - Brooks-Randall. I was doing trade shows and was a vendor and consultant for such companies as Gesswein and Rio Grande. I did tradeshows for 8 years with Gesswein. Then I went to work for a smaller company, Fargotstein’s and Son’s in Memphis, TN. It was there I ran into Richard Glatter from Little Rock. He hired me to create slide bracelet slide designs and cut the dies.
When I had started working for Richard Glatter there were only 3 big players making slides: Klein, Mastercraft, and Richard Glatter. Then slides got very popular and there were over 20 companies. I worked there about 7 years before re-establishing Specialty Casting in Conway, AR and opening a retail jewelry store with my wife. In 2012 we moved everything to a new location in historic downtown Conway with more showroom space for the jewelry store and more space for manufacturing.
I started in the jewelry industry when I was in junior high. Working with Dad in the basement gave me an opportunity to learn. I began with shooting waxes, packing molds and cutting molds. Next it was casting and polishing. In 1986 I started working with Jeff part-time. After working at Fargotstein's in Memphis, Tennessee doing casting and production work, I worked as a production manager at Richard Glatter, Inc. in Little Rock. Since around 1997 I've been production manager at Specialty Casting. I also do casting and production work for a handful of other companies as Specialty Finishing.
I enjoy taking a raw metal and producing a piece of jewelry. Every step of the way, up to stone setting, it's in my hands. I get satisfaction turning out a great product.
Some companies hire people and are satisfied with just getting a product out. I want more than that. I want them to look at the product and go, “that's really nice”. When someone wearing items we have manufactured gets asked that “wow, where did you get this. This is a nice product” speaks for itself.
In 1949, Ray started as an apprentice hub and die cutter at Herff Jones in Indianapolis, Indiana. He learned the high school class ring business. From 1951 to 1954 Ray served in the US Navy and was deployed during the Korean Conflict. After 18 years at Herff Jones, Ray worked at Bardach in Indianapolis as a hub and die maker, Balfour in Attleboro, MA as a consultant and die make, I.B. Goodman in Cincinnati, OH as a die and model maker, Herff Jones in Puerto Rico as supervisor and tool and die maker, James Avery in Kerrville, TX as a die maker and tool room manager, Stuller Settings in Lafayette, LA from 1983-1987 as a model maker, plant manager and on the board of directors.
In 1989 as co-owner of Brooks-Randolph in Houston, Texas, Ray created metal dies and jewelry molds. He then worked at Green Duck Mint in Hornando, MS as die maker and engraver, Selco in Tulsa, OK for five years as a medallion die maker, and S&S Time Corporation in Tulsa, OK as watch face die maker and department manager.
Over his work history, he setup and supervised casting departments, was a Pantograph and lathe operator, made metal dies and plastic injection molds, created custom tools from scratch, performed hand and machine engraving, carved ring waxes, developed process for manufacturing clock parts, did metal plating, created metal mold findings, created steel stamp and punch-press dies and made watch dials.
After working five years at S&S in Tulsa, Ray moved to Conway, AR in 2002 to be closer to family and work with two of his sons, Jeff and Pat. Over the next five years, Ray cut hundreds of new slide bracelet slide designs, crafted custom men's and women's rings, pendants and other jewelry pieces, and was a mentor to everyone. On Saturday, December 8th, 2007 Ray finished cutting a metal die for a new slide and passed away early the next morning in his sleep. His work and knowledge continues as part of the jewelry industry, not just at Specialty Casting, but through all the companies and people he mentored throughout his life.
Since 1984 I've been in retail. Diamonds and gemstones have always fascinated me. Around 2006 I got into jewelry sales. Since then I have learned about many different jewelry styles and the design and manufacturing process. After completing the Accredited Jewelry Professional (A.J.P.) program from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), I still enjoy learning about jewelry just as much as wearing it.
When others see my slide bracelet and rings, they ask where I got them. When I tell them that we made them, at first they find it difficult to believe. This is because most jewelry stores buy mass-produced items to sell. Or, when it comes to custom jobs they send them off to other places that specialize in making custom jewelry. We don't do that. We do all the work in-house. Nothing is sent off. Our slide bracelet designs are our creations. If you have a ring design you can sketch or like certain features of several other rings, with a picture or two we can create a custom piece of jewelry for you. You are involved along the way.
Growing up I was big into drawing, design, playing music … many things art-related. But I went the way of the tech geek and completed a Masters in Computer Science in 1998 that focused on computer graphics, networking and operating systems. Since 1996, I have provided technical expertise for numerous software development projects that span the marketing and information management, Internet services provider, medical imaging, manufacturing, health insurance and financial services industries. I’ve been a software developer, system administrator and technical architect. Over the years I’ve gained a wealth of experience in many programming languages, data encryption, Linux/Unix security, e-commerce, web services, search engines, accessibility compliance, improving user experience, software testing, ETL, database design and tuning, grid/cloud computing, and website and web application design, including development and performance.
In 2000 I joined the Specialty Casting team doing all things techy and media related. This has included product photography, computer graphics, graphic design, business cards, catalogs, advertisements, websites, SEO, and online advertising. In 2003 I started designing jewelry and doing the artwork for custom pieces that Jeff and Ray would machine into metal dies using a Gorton pantograph. I designed hundreds of slide bracelet designs in 2D that Ray cut into metal dies, giving the designs the next dimension and making them into a product.
Since 2012 I’ve been doing custom jewelry designs using 3D CAD and also doing the 3D printing of the models in materials that we can cast. That first year I modeled over 70 custom projects, mostly rings. At the 2013 Arkansas Jewelers Association C.A.R.A.T. awards, a pendant I designed and 3D printed took 2nd place in Category II and a triple-halo gold ring I designed and 3D printed took 2nd place in Category III. In late 2013 I decided to leave the high-stress corporate IT world. Now I focus on being creative with smaller tech projects, jewelry design and 3D printing.
I began engraving as a hobby after I graduated from college with a Civil Engineering degree in 1991. Back then I took courses from Tilden Swenson, a master engraver, in Little Rock. I have also taken advanced engraving courses from GRS many years ago. I’ve been engraving for Jeff since 2002. After 32 years of military service, I’m now enjoying engraving and doing jewelry bench work and repairs. In 2013, a two-tone band I engraved with magnolia flowers took 2nd place in Category 1 of the 2013 Arkansas Jewelers Association C.A.R.A.T. Awards. Over the years, I’ve engraved jewelry, watches, guns, knives, guns, and even some odd things like punch bowls and large artillery shell casings.