Goldsmith and silversmiths are the professionals behind watches, necklaces, studs, buds, hoops and other jewelry items you can’t resist buying when you visit jewelry stores. While goldsmiths work exclusively with gold metal, silversmiths focus on creating silver items. If you possess an artistic talent, and you would love to work with precious metals, then you could become a goldsmith or a silversmith.
See Also: How to Become a Metal Arts Worker in the US
1. What Do Goldsmiths and Silversmith Do?
The general duties of goldsmiths and silversmiths include:
- Consulting with clients about their design preferences for a custom item or piece
- Sketching ideas and plans for each item and presenting them to clients for approval
- Calculating the costs involved in making the item
- Using lasers and other specialized equipment to cut the metals into desired sizes and shapes
- Using pliers and other hand tools to manipulate or mold the pieces of metal into jewelry
- Polishing the newly-created jewelry – This may involve bathing it in special chemicals
- Repairing damaged jewelry and other functional items that are made from silver or gold
- Attending exhibitions to appraise their products
- Educating clients on how to care for their gold and silver items
2. Work Environment
Goldsmiths and silversmiths work from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. Weekend work is also common.
The work environment varies since some spend their days in workshops and others in jewelry stores or manufacturing plants.
Regardless of environment, the work of goldsmiths and silversmiths is potentially dangerous because they work with a range of hand tools and lasers that could cause injury when used inappropriately.
4. Entry Requirements
Goldsmiths and silversmith typically learn their skills on the job.
Established precious stones workshops and manufacturing plants offer apprenticeship programs, which can help you get started. As an apprentice, you will learn the trade from a veteran goldsmith or silversmith for a period of up to five years.
Remember, you must have a high school diploma to qualify for an apprenticeship program.
If you don’t like the apprenticeship route, don’t get worried. Some community colleges and trade schools offer courses in jewelry and metal arts that can equip you with knowledge of metal design, jewelry-making, computer design and drawing. Examples of these institutions include:
5. Important Qualities
The qualities you need to succeed as a goldsmith or silversmith include:
- Artistic and creative skills
- Manual dexterity
- Skills in computer designs
- Drawing skills
- A love for creating new things
- Practical and technical skills
- Normal color vision
- A keen attention to details
- An awareness of occupational health and safety practices
- Skills in cost estimation
- Good math skills
- The ability to work alone and concentrate for long periods of time
- Good communication and customer service skills
- Good business skills (primarily for those in self-employment)
6. Career Development
As a beginning goldsmith or silversmith, focus on demonstrating your artistic ability through the products you create. If you can create quick-selling jewelry, for example, there is no doubt you career will be ready to take off.
To fasten the takeoff, consider:
- Joining the Society of American Silversmiths or the Society of North American Goldsmiths --- Besides helping you stay abreast of industry developments, these societies also organize periodic events where you can appraise your products.
- Pursuing a bachelor’s of fine arts in jewelry design.
7. Job Opportunities
The employers of goldsmiths and silversmith include:
- Art galleries
- Jewelry stores
- Jewelry manufacturing plants
- Established goldsmith and silversmith workshops
As an experienced goldsmith or silversmith with a bachelor’s degree in jewelry design, you can advance to become the lead designer. With sufficient startup capital, you could consider moving into self-employment and establish your own shop.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts a lowly 2 percent job growth for all jewelers, precious stone and metal workers, mainly because many jewelry manufacturing jobs are outsourced.
Should this discourage you? Not at all. Americans are big consumers of jewelry items, so getting customers should not be a tall order. The trick is being creative with your designs, and running your own shop. Good luck!