Jeweler, Metalsmith, Goldsmith, Silversmith? What are we?

by fortheloveofjewels on October 16, 2009

Naked Jewelry

Unless you have been living under a rock, you are probably aware of the Orchid network for jewelry professional and hobbyists. This online forum is one of the most valuable sources of information for me as a jewelry designer thirsty for knowledge from those with more experience.

Recently a fascinating thread has been circulating that someone started by asking a simple question. What do people who make and/or sell jewelry call themselves?

You might think we’d know this seemingly simple answer but it sparked a debate that is going on several days now.

The consensus seems to be that we are JEWELERS…and that a person is a JEWELER is they sell jewelry, even if they don’t know much about making it. However that doesn’t make a person necessarily a BENCH JEWELER who must apparently know how to do repairs as well as make jewelry.

And, a person can be a GOLDSMITH even if they never work with gold. A goldsmith, we learned, is any person who makes small objects of precious metals, usually for personal adornment. It was also said that a GOLDSMITH must see the big picture; creating from initial conception through completion.

A SILVERSMITH on the other hand, is a person who works on larger hollowware; things like candleholders, knifes, forks, spoons, plates etc….

Some call themselves METALSMITHS, however, one person mentioned that she has been contacted to make wrought iron and shoe horses…not exactly the same thing!

Given that I rarely work with gold, I hardly feel that “goldsmith” works for me, though it sure sounds nice! I previously thought a better term for me was either “metalsmith” or “silversmith” but I learned that neither of those are right at all!

So, I have decided I am a JEWELER. I like the ring to that as well, although as a “jeweler” I have so much still to learn from far more accomplished jewelers. At one of my classes, I noticed a man wearing an apron that said “Jeweler In Training”. Maybe that’s me!

Thanks for stopping by!

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Seajewel November 4, 2009 at 5:45 am

I call myself a metal artist, I make jewelery from silver and gold and set stones, and do lost wax casting with fine detail…. but I also weld and make sculptures from mild steel, stainless steel and copper. Not much else but “metal artist” makes any sense…

Taueret October 25, 2009 at 4:56 am

To me a jeweler is someone who makes diamond rings-I would never call myself a jeweler, even though I do make jewelry. I like ‘art jeweler’ I guess- but don’t forget there was even a debate over whether one could call oneself an artist (I think one can!).

DeAnne October 21, 2009 at 10:35 am

This discussion came up a while ago with a group of friends, we decided on “Art Jeweler”, That term, we felt, gave us license to incorporate many many aspects of the different ‘smith’ disciplines, without sacrificing credibility by denying the ‘jeweler’ part of the equation, or being relegated by others to ‘costume’.
I am guessing this will always be up for debate LOL.

laurie kern October 16, 2009 at 10:57 am

A few weeks ago I asked where I could find someone to teach me silver/metalsmithing – as I want to learn how to make bowls and cutlery.

The majority of the responses I received were leads to people who concentrate on teaching Jewelry!

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