Ask Your Goldsmith:
Hobby Jeweller Inquiry
Hi, I stumbled across your site but what I would love to know is: is gold melting and making jewellery only for the professional or could it be easily learned by a layman as a hobby?
Thank you for your email inquiry!
Sorry for not getting back sooner, work comes first eh ;)
Anything can be learned by any layman, but who will teach them as a hobbyist? There was always a jewellery course at George Brown College in Toronto, but I do not know if they still have it. There are books to read on it and Google search will have answers for EVERYTHING,
I'm sure of that!
You see, the way to really learn our trade is to serve an apprenticeship in a Goldsmith shop! But nobody will teach you, if you're just looking at it as a hobby. Because there are already enough hobby jewellers around who do the work at home and these people are cutting under the prices of our trade, because these hobbyists have no overhead and pay no taxes for the work they do, unless they open up a basement business with a registered name!
So I do not know what else to tell you. If you are a free spirit and try learning all on your own, it can be very costly and also dangerous, because of the melting of the precious metals and acids and other somewhat hazardous tools that are used, when you're not used to it and no one is there to show you the proper way to handle things!
So if you're a young person and like to learn, than go from one jewellery shop or goldsmith manufacturer to another and have an interview and tell them what you like to do and that you like to get into the trade. But remember, it takes at least 10 years to really get into this trade and to call yourself a Goldsmith!
Take care and all the best for you! If you need more advice, send me an email.
P.S. Where abouts are you,
In the USA, CANADA or in Europe?
---------- Letter #2 - Al Cameron writes back ----------
Hi, I'm in Scotland and approaching 50. Thank you for taking the time to reply
so thouroughly. I guess as a hobby it might be a touch expensive to purchase all of the equipment needed to do things properly.
It all depends what you would like to do. If you're near a larger city, they should have a jewellery supply company. And these people sell to anybody and everybody gets the same price too!
You will need some needle files (flat, square, half round, round, triangular etc.), small # 3 or # 4 files, preferably made in England, Germany or Switzerland. Also larger files for filing the gold or silver jewellery.
A small handy propane bottle with a torch tip to regulate the flame. A motor (half a horse) and some buffs and jewellers rouge compound for a fine polish and also grained compound. Some 600/400 grit emery paper, a flat piece of wood (ruler) to wrap the emery pare around and put rubber bands on both sides so the paper stays while working with this home-mad emery stick.
If you use a cardboard box to put your polishing motor in and make a hole in the back and stick in your vacuum hose, you're all set and there is very little dust! Plus some sterling silver casting grain or wire, and a sliding "ingot mold" to melt your own metal (gold or silver) and pour into the size adjustable mold. To melt gold or silver, you need a crucible container of a special heatproof material, either of silica or graphite material (from jewellers supply), also some Borax (Flux) for melting, so the metal joins and runs together nicely in the crucible. Get some soldering flux and silver and gold solder and you're almost set!
To get fancy you need a bench top rolling mill, half the roller for flat sheet and the other half for wire. This way you can make your own material - wire or sheet!
You are now self-sufficient to do almost any job. Of course a ring mandrel and hammer, and a few small drills and burs and an anvil. Some of these things you can pick up at a flea market or if an old jeweller goes out of business or a second hand shop.
Hope to have helped you out to make your dream of becoming a hobby goldsmith at the age of 50 come true! Google search has info on any subject or question you want to ask - and that's free too! Hope to have helped you out a bit!
For more information, please read my other articles about Buying and Selling Jewellery, About Old Gold and Taking Care of Your Jewellery.
West York Jewellers