Learning Center

Beginner's Corner

The Beginner’s Corner is your introduction to jewelry techniques and terms. Get the basics on everything from equipment to proper working posture.

90 ARTICLES
Article
Paraffin Wax Treatment

The holiday season can be rough on jewelers. The long hours spent toiling at the bench trying to fulfill last minute orders can take a toll on the body. To help get through this tough season, it’s important to make time to take care of yourself.…

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How to Create a Basic Link Chain

Making a simple or basic link chain to display your pendant designs is a great way to add further value to your work, and it can be a fairly easy process. When I make my own chain, I like to use 16 gauge (1.3 mm in diameter) wire. This gauge……

Article
Avoiding a Zero-Sum Game

We use the term “zero-sum game” fairly often, but I suspect most people don’t stop and think about the meaning of it. A zero-sum game is a game in which one party can only gain what the other party loses. If there is $100 between two players,…

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Effective Trade Show Follow-Up Campaign

Research has long suggested that the majority of leads generated by trade shows never receive follow-up by company representatives. If you’re among those exhibitors without any formalized plan or process in place for following up with…

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Step-by-Step Guide to Upsizing Rings

When I ran a trade shop, time was money, and I often found myself sizing 50 to 60 rings in a day. When you’re doing that kind of volume, being able to quickly size up rings can make a big difference on your bottom line. Here’s my technique for sizing……

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How to Make an Ionic Cleaner

Although ultrasonic cleaners are great for removing gunk on jewelry, they do a poor job when it comes to removing tarnish…and that’s where ionic cleaners come into play. They use a small electrical current to clean metal, quickly whisking…

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Tips & Techniques for Popular Finishing Touches

We asked a number of top jewelers to tell us their best practices, techniques, and tips for creating satin, brushed, and hammered finishes as well as patinas on jewelry. Take notes – you’ll want to test these popular finishing touches…

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Creating Equal Divisions in Stone Setting

Below are steps for an easy way to create equal divisions in setting stones that jewelers need to know. Dividing something into equal parts is something jewelers do all the time. For example, you may have to set stones equally around a ring band…

Article
The Ethics of Materials

I have always thought that if no other lesson had begun to seep through peoples’ inertia and greed, that at least a sense of the fragility of the earth and an obligation to ecologic diversity had begun to be routine. But reality intrudes,…

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Art and Technics: Experience

This article is one of a series of articles from Metalsmith Magazine “Art and Technics” talking about techniques in craftsmanship and design.  For this 1989 Spring issue, Tim McCreight talks about experience and how and what it…

Article
Tips on Learning Website Basics

In today’s internet driven market place you need to have a website whether you are a small “Mom & Pop” trade shop or you have employees and multiple locations. Many jewelry stores have already joined the 21st century…

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Metalsmith ’84 Spring: Health Hazards Q&A’s

This article page is from a segment of the Metalsmith Magazine (1984 Spring), “Health Hazards”, discussing questions from readers about using sumac and the effects of gas ozone. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Dear Linda, I frequently enhance…

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Metalsmith ’83 Fall: Health Hazards Q&A’s

This article page is from a segment of the Metalsmith Magazine (1983 Fall), “Health Hazards”, discussing questions from readers and answers provided by Linda Weiss-Edwards herself. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Dear Linda, I…

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Metalsmith ’83 Summer: Health Hazards Q&A’s

This article page is from a segment of the Metalsmith Magazine (1983 Summer), “Health Hazards”, discussing questions from readers and answers provided by Linda herself. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Dear Linda, You are doing a…

Article
Transparency Making for Photoetching

This article, “Transparency Making for Photoetching”,  is the first of two parts written by Allan Liu and Carol Webb. Check out the second part of this article series “Photoetching for the Studio Jeweler.”…

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A Metalsmith’s Guide to Los Angeles

This Metalsmith’s Guide to Los Angeles can be useful to metalsmiths who are new to the Los Angeles area or to people who have been living here and developed an interest in the metalsmithing world. The information is based on the experience…

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Photoetching for the Studio Jeweler

In photoetching a photo transparency defines the area of a metal plate to be etched. The transparency is the control unit, the program, that prescribes which parts of the light-sensitive resist will chemically harden, polymerize, to become…

Article
Bench Tools for Jewelers

This article lists the following useful bench tools for jewelers including contact information where they can be purchased or ordered. Grobet USA LED Bench Lamp Suitable for use at the bench or on the sales floor, the Grobet USA LED Bench…

Article
Selecting the Correct Saw Blade

This article provides and describes the useful tips for selecting the correct saw blade by Alan Revere including some important things to consider for blade selection. Sawing is a fast and easy way to cut and separate a piece of metal into…

Article
International Ring Sizes Chart

This page provides an international ring sizes chart you can view and/or download to be your guide in making or even just to refer to customer’s ring sizes. Click to view a bigger image:…

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Stone Setting Tips

Here are some very helpful stone setting tips provided by Gerald Lewy to help and guide you when working on gemstones. When securing stones, please use a soft metal pusher. I suggest a copper or brass pusher. This will prevent making deep marks…

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Jewelry Making Bench Tips

Jeremy Pavlow shares his common jewelry making bench tips by taking advantage of other tools and materials not normally used for jewelry making. Here are some very useful tips he uses around the shop every day. Not Just For Oral Hygiene I use…

Article
Laser Welding Basics – Part 4

I want to take what I have written in my previous articles 
and start tying it into jewelry welding applications. In 
this article, I am going to use the welding of a very 
simple 18K yellow gold ring shank to expand on the relationship…

Article
Basic Polishing Technique

Many jewelers see polishing as a mundane task. However, it is one of the most important operations in the process of repairing or making jewelry. The final appearance of the jewelry to a large extent, will determine the acceptability of the…

Article
Basic Milling Technique

In working on jewelry there are many tasks that seem simple – you just do it and don’t think about techniques. Milling is a prime example. You stick a bur in your flex-shaft, step on the pedal, and away you go. However, as simple as…

Article
CAD/CAM: The Basics

What if you could sit down at your computer, spend a little time manipulating the mouse, keyboard or electronic pencil and create a piece of jewelry; then send that electronic creation to a small, desktop machine which would carve your design…

Article
Jewellery Career Options

One of the most interesting things about the jewellery/metals field is that there are so many career options, so many contexts that one can choose to work in. There are even ways of becoming wealthy if that is important in one’s goals. There are…

Article
Chain Making Project

This project is for beginners that wish to become silversmiths, part time or full time. Keep in mind that there are many ways to do this faster with the use of mechanical tools, but you are doing this project to learn how to use your frame saw and…

Article
Jewellery Repair

Repairing jewellery is an extremely tricky job. Work often pretends to be something else, metal is not what it is labelled, or sold as and the customer’s memory fades with time, so that jewellery is often given to the repair person as something…

Article
Craftsmanship Improvement Method

This is a method to reduce technical problems which one repeatedly experienes. We all find during the learning process that there are times when the same problem presents itself over and over again. Sometimes when beginning one overworks…

Article
Notes on Files for Jewelry Making

When one gets a new file one traditionally dips it in alcohol and sets fire to it to burn off any grease (this could be dangerous-use great care). Get the longest files you are comfortable with as the long stroke is very efficient. 20 cm or longer…

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Jewelry Rendering Tools and Projects

These pages contain a list of recommended tools to jewelry rendering, as well as a series of projects that I have used in classes. You could construct your own ‘self-study’ course using them.

Article
Working Posture for Craftsmen

Many craftspeople have posture and body position problems. Ramazzini, the founder of occupational medicine and author of a groundbreaking book on diseases of workers published in 1713 writes rather cruelly (and the man was a great humanitarian…

Article
Dealing with Fire Scale

Fire scale or fire stain is a reddish purple toned ‘bloom’ or ‘stain’ that appears on silver/copper alloys such as sterling silver when they are heated in the presence of oxygen. It even occurs in gold alloys with high copper contents. As it generally…

Article
Basic Metalworking Tools for Beginners

Making jewelry is sometimes seen as a difficult or an expensive proposition. In reality a basic metal working shop can be set up quite inexpensively. Cutting (separating materials), soldered construction and finishing are the three main…

Article
Notes on Presto-Lite Torch

We use a method for cutting down firescale when using a Presto-Lite Torch along with an acetylene B tank. The torch tips are engineered to take in so much gas through the gas orifice and so much air through the air inlet ventura so they burn to their…

Article
A Pain In The Neck

You start to turn and there it is again. You go to stand up from your chair and it happens again. It’s that nagging pain in your neck or lower back. After several years on the bench, jewelers often develop chronic neck or back injuries.

Article
Bench Trick Guiding Principles

What is a bench trick? A shortcut? A faster way of doing something? A better method? A tool used for one purpose converted to another? A tool or technique that saves time, effort, thinking and work? Bench tricks are keys to understanding Process,…

Article
Organize Your Workspace

How you set up your shop, your working procedures and workspace can affect your safety, comfort, stress level and efficiency of making. If your shop is well planned you will be more efficient. The more efficient you are, the faster you work and…

Article
Knowing the Difference Between Carat and Karat

Carat, karat, caret, and carrot are all pronounced the same, but each has a different meaning. Carat and karat, of course, have very specific meanings in jewelry. Misusing either word can be an embarrassing, if not an expensive, mistake. Spelling…

Article
How the Bracelet Got its Name

Do you know why that piece of jewelry that goes around your arm is called a bracelet? Or why a hair clasp is called a barrette? And how about brooch – that’s a strange name to call an ornament fastened to your clothing. I make jewelry and normally…

Article
Basic Hinge Making Technique

It is important to pick tubing with an appropriate wall thickness and material strength for the requirements of the piece. Sterling will need thicker material than 14k gold. Nickel white gold is the hardest material goldsmiths generally…

Article
Basic Jewelry Construction and Soldering Principles

A short review of construction and soldering principles would be a good idea at this point. They’re fairly basic. Principles of soldering (or what most of the world terms ‘brazing’ but jewelers call ‘soldering’) include: make sure that all…

Article
Basic Optical Principles for Gemology

The optical characteristics and properties of gemstones often provide the fastest and best methods of identification. A certain amount of theory is necessary as optical principles determine cutting methods, gemstone attributes and the…

Article
Basic Bead Setting Techniques

First the stone’s diameter is measured at the pavillion and a dent is made in the metal for the pilot drill (about 1mm diameter). Then the metal is drilled through. The metal is drilled again until the hole is about 3/4 the size of the stone’s diameter.…

Article
Jewelry and Metals Bibliography

A selected bibliography list for the jeweler – Metal working, Casting, Plating, Enamelling ,Gem Cutting, Setting, Engraving and Etching, Other Techniques, Jewelry Repairs and A Selected Bibliography for Materials Science for Goldsmiths…

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North American Sources for Equipment, Materials, etc.

This page offers a list of some useful North American Sources for Equipment, Materials, information, etc that would be very helpful for your reference. Bonny Doon Enterprises, 250 Tassett Court, Santa Cruz, CA, 95060, 1-800-995-9962:…

Article
Different Methods on How to Resize Rings

A ring fits well when it is no longer felt on the finger. If in the course of time the size of the finger changes or if the ring is to be fitted for another wearer, a sizing of the ring is necessary. The first step is to determine the finger size, which…

Article
Rules for Tools

While it is clearly impossible to give a set of rules for each tool and procedure that goldsmiths use, this section gives some examples of the kinds of rules that may be helpful to review when using powered equipment. hand tools and processes…

Article
Basic Safety Principles for Jewelers

Aim for: a well laid-out, orderly workshop, well-lit by multiple non glare light sources, well-maintained equipment, electrically and fire safe, with low dust and few procedures involving solvents, with excellent local ventilation at…

Article
Dusts in the Jewelry Workshop

Dust is small particles of a material. There are dusts you can see in the air; these can be breathed in, and because the particles are fairly large, they end up in the upper portions of the lungs. Some can be cleared from the body by its natural mucus…

Article
Noise and its Effects

Noise is so common that we don’t tend to think of it in terms of exposure in the same way that we would, for example, with a chemical such as benzene. Yet the treatment of hearing damage is considered to be one of the growth industries as we.

Article
Structuring for Efficiency in the Studio

Being more organized, and planning how you use your time will mean that you will spend less time on some jobs and you will therefore have this time available. I tell my students that they need to plan their time and work fast, smoothly and efficiently…

Article
Testing Precious Metals and Alloys

The purpose of precious metal testing is to determine, first, whether a given sample is precious or base, and, second, to determine what proportion of an alloy is precious. Sophisticated equipment is used in a precious metal laboratory to…

Article
Separating Work and Home

Often craftspeople start out making craft objects in their living space, a kitchen, a living room, and sometimes continue working in them even when they have grown to the point that they need a separate studio. It is not wise to share one’s living…

Article
Studio Lighting Considerations

How you light your shop, illuminate your working area, experience the reflection from surfaces and the paint you choose for the walls all have an effect on your ability to work in your studio. Poor lighting can strain the eyes, contribute to…

Article
Organize Your Bench

The next time you sit down at your bench, don’t think of it as just a bench. Think of it as the cockpit of a plane. That’s right, a plane. Sure, there are differences: Instead of dials, switches, and throttles, you have files, saws, and burnishers.…

Article
Bead Stone Setting – Bead It!

Bench Jewelers often use different methods to accomplish the same work. I believe the end results are what is important, not the method used to get there. In jewelry work the ends often justifies the means. This is not more evident than in bead…

Article
Methods of Closing Jump Rings

In high volume production operations, many jump rings need to be closed one after another. For such fast paced operations, pliers simply won’t do. Factory workers need efficient tools for closing jump rings. One such tool consists of a ring…

Article
The Costs of Learning Hand Engraving

When you’ve made the decision to learn hand engraving, you have basically 3 options: Spend little or no money but lots and lots of time. You can get by spending very little on one book (Meeks) and the most basic hand tools. Hammer ‘ chisel or hand…

Article
Simple Method of Forming Jump Rings

This paper describes a simple process of forming jump rings. These jump rings were formed from 16 guage sterling silver wire. The links will be 1/2 inches in diameter and will be used to create a pottery shard link concho belt..

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Setting a Stone with Cold Connections

In the jewelry world the term cold connections usually describes mechanical joining techniques that are used to fasten together parts that cannot be soldered. In many cases, cold connections fall into a “layer-this-onto-that” approach.…

Article
Anticlastic Raising Basics

The word synclastic describes a form in which the dominant curves both move in the same direction. When the two dominant axes curve in opposite directions the result is known as an anticlastic form. A bowl is a synclastic form and a saddle is an…

Article
Perfect Finishing Tools and Techniques

Our castings can be flawless, our assembly precise, and our settings secure — but let any surface go a bit rough, a little uneven and wobbly, and the jewelry is judged to be inferior. Ironically, even the ultimate finish begins to deteriorate…

Article
Set Up Your Torch

OK. You have just brought home your first acetylene tank and are ready to attach your new acetylene/air torch. This is the day you have dreamed of — soldering at home, in your workshop — yet there is that nagging doubt in the back of your head.…

Article
3 Ways to Use 2-Part Epoxy Resins

Available in a wide variety of formulas, epoxy resins are used in jewelry making as adhesives, as coatings, and for casting. This reference article outlines the safety requirements for mixing and working with epoxy resins and introduces…

Article
Handling Stakes and Anvils

Shaping a bezel on stakes is a process of forming the metal by stretching. First the metal is bent with pliers to fit the gem, forming a shape smaller than the stone while following its contour. The gauge of the sheet metal chosen is slightly thicker…

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Pickling Notes

Jewelers treat soldered objects with dilute acid solutions to remove oxides produced from heating and soldering as well as glassy flux residues. This process is called pickling. I believe the term comes from the chemical jewelers once used…

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Jeweler’s Workday: Sitting and Looking at the Bench

In the Jewelers Bench Book, the MJSA/Ganoksin project published in spring 2008, there is an extensive look at what happens in the working space, where you sit and move as a goldsmith. Two of the areas addressed including sitting and looking…

Article
Liver of Sulfur 101

Liver of sulfur, a stinky jewelry studio standby, can be used to create beautiful patinas on Silver, Silver Precious Metal Clay or Art Clay.

Article
105 Jewelers Bench Comments

In late 2006 I put together a survey on the Jewelers bench to which many Orchidians and others responded. There were a series of questions asked, and the answers were revealing, and contributed to my understanding of the jewelers bench and its…

Article
6 Basic Wire Skills to Make a Necklace

The links in this 16-in. (40.6cm) necklace are forged so they become flat and work-hardened. The pearl in the featured necklace is held in place merely by the tension between the wire loops in the pendant. Four styles of links define the spare…

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Goldsmith Jewelry Finishing Trick

Every bench jeweler has experienced the frustration of trying to sand and polish a nearly inaccessible area on a piece of jewelry. The goldsmith who can detail these small corners and crevices can bring his or her work up to the level of fine jewelry.…

Article
How to Make Equally Sized Beads

In this project, I will demonstrate a clever method of making equally sized beads. These beads can be used for granulation or decoration, or they can be soldered inside rings to keep the rings from turning while worn.

Article
Using Acid Bath on Used Tools

Bench jewelers hate to throw out used tools. By training and by nature we try to conserve the materials we use. An unfortunate side effect is that old burs and dull files tend to collect on our benches. All is not lost, however. There is life in those…

Article
Hammering and Forging Safety Guidelines

Goldsmiths and silversmiths use hammers frequently in their work, silversmiths especially. A regular trade goldsmith might use a bench hammer with a ring on a mandrel twenty or more times a day. Blacksmithing operations use coal fires, gas…

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Full eBook: The Jewelry Maker

Full eBook.48 Pages: Jewelry and metalsmithing are hard work, and also very rewarding. There is great pleasure in creating with one’s hands, in the process of taking raw materials and creating something. It’s also fun to get dirty, and to bang…

Article
Touchstone Method for Testing Karat Gold Purity

There are a few scientific methods for precisely determining karat gold purity, some destructive (fire assay) and others nondestructive (X-ray florescence). Both methods require costly equipment, special procedures and a well-lit and…

Article
Enameling Techniques for Beginners

After you learn to apply enamels by sifting, wet packing, brushing on crackle and firing the base coats, you are ready for some of the simple techniques that require only a feel for color. You can design a piece by repeating one technique or learning…

Article
How to Make Sharp Corner Cuts

Sawing is an essential skill for a bench jeweler. This article will show you a technique that will increase your sawing speed and accuracy when you need to make sharp corner cuts and reduce your likelihood of breaking delicate saw blades. …

Article
Proper Studio Light

Do not get caught in the dark – make certain your shop is well lit. In the jewelry shop, two types of lighting are used. 1. Ambient or General Lighting. 2. Task Lighting. It is best to have a combination of the two in your shop. It is best to have a combination…

Article
Spiral Cut Technique for Rubber Molds

n this installment we present a mold cutting technique called a spiral cut, which is designed to facilitate the successful release of a cage-like wax model from a mold.

Article
Ergonomics for Bench Pin Modifications

Ergonomics is the safe and effective relationship between a worker and the work environment. For the bench jeweler who spends hours working with a bench pin, it is important to make it work efficiently and effectively for you. There are many…

Article
Jewelry Making Study Sheet

Jewelry making is a big job. That is that there is a lot to know and a lot to learn. When learning, particularly on your own, as many people do, it can be very useful to structure your learning experience. I tell students that it takes three times…

Article
How to Use the Conduction Soldering Technique

The soldering process, used extensively in all aspects of jewelry manufacturing and repair, joins two or more pieces of metal together and when done properly, will result in a virtually undetectable seam. A better understanding of the soldering…

Article
How to Handle the Flexshaft

In the course of my 30 years in the jewelry industry, I can recall many instances of damaged equipment and potentially dangerous situations caused by how the handpiece is connected to the flexshaft. Here are a few observations that can make…

Article
Bench Tools Maintenance Schedule

Take a look around you. Chances are there is a flex-shaft or a dust collector you’ve neglected because you’ve been too busy making jewelry. As you put your heart and soul into your work, don’t forget to take a little time to give some TLC to your…

Article
Basic Sawing Techniques

In this article, we will continue our Back to Basics Series with an article on Sawing techniques.

Article
Basic Filing Techniques

Over the years, bad habits creep into our work procedures. Periodical review of our techniques is needed to assure us that these “bad habits” are not allowed to continue to effect the quality of our work. In this article, we will continue our…

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