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The Jewellery Making Guide - Silversmiths


A silversmith is the name given to the crafts-person who works with silver. Silversmithing by proper definition is the art of turning sheet metal (silver in it's wholesale form) into hollow ware (bowls, cups, candlesticks), flatware and other articles of household silver, church plate or sculpture. Mainly though, it includes the use of silver jewellery making.

Silversmithing as a career has its trade guilds to thank for it's spread. In medieval Europe, silversmiths banded together to create these groups dedicated to passing on tips, tricks, tools and to take people on as apprentices to pass on their skills to the new generations.

A silversmith is known to saw or cut desired shapes from sterling and finer silver sheet metal and bar stock. They would typical use hammers to shape and mould the metal over anvils and stakes. Silver is hammered cold but as it is 'worked' (hammered and bent) it 'work-hardens'.

Annealing is the heat treatment process used with silver to make it soft again. This must be done regularly as silver has the tendency to crack and break meaning the finished product will be weak.

Silver can also be used in in casting techniques to create knobs, handles and feet for hollow ware. This is done by pouring molten silver into specialised moulds, which then cools and hardens creating the desired shape.

Soldering and annealing was in the past done with charcoal fired forges and lung-powered blow-pipes however these days, it is much more common for silversmiths to work with gas burning blow torches and even laser bean welding.