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The difference between a goldsmith and a silversmith

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Goldsmithy
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« on: September 13, 2013, 05:09:55 am »

Under traditional definitions, a silversmith is a person who makes utensils like spoons, forks, teapots (think of Paul Revere) and a goldsmith is a person who items of personal adornment (think jewelry). Each can work in any metal... silver, gold, copper or whatever.

I call myself a goldsmith because I make jewelry. I work in silver, gold, platinum, copper, brass, nickle silver, etc.

I do not call myself a jeweler, even though the name would fit. Why? Because  the term 'jeweler' is associated with retail jewelry stores that make nothing---just buy and sell the product. And everyone knows that these jewelers have a very high markup and offer big discounts. I just don't like to play those games, so I call myself a goldsmith. I'll bet you're a goldsmith too. haveaniceday2
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« Reply #1 on: September 13, 2013, 06:20:57 am »

no, I am a metalsmith. Further I work in metal and stone. Gold and silver are so historically tied with class, wealth, and exploitation. I see no reason to forgo the more accurate words metalsmith or jeweler or artist to adopt "gold" or "silver" where they dont actually mean gold and silver.
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« Reply #2 on: September 13, 2013, 06:30:08 am »

Outch!  needcoffee Be nice boys.  hugs32

That could lead into a rather interesting discussion/debate.  saved2
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Debbie K
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« Reply #3 on: September 13, 2013, 07:05:56 am »

Daniel:

Words mean things, and "goldsmith" is one of them. The definition may have historical ties to bankers, class and wealth, but it also has ties to the guilds which held close the techniques of fabricating, casting and forming non-ferrous metals and often mounting stones in said metals. This is like being upset about the word "mailman", which political correctness has now changed to "mailperson". I have noticed a trend in the last few years of people in the metal working industries to call it "metal arts".

"Goldsmith" isn't such a loaded term in India as it is in Europe. Silversmith (at least when I was in college, which admittedly was a long time ago), related more to forming vessels and doing chasing and repousse work.

I wish I were a goldsmith, I don't think my work is at that level, or for that matter silversmith, either. I'd be ever so pleased if I could be as skilled as a blacksmith. I'll just go with the ultimate cop-out of "artist" since it seems to excuse poor technique in exchange of the overall look of a piece.

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Goldsmithy
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« Reply #4 on: September 13, 2013, 07:10:52 am »

no, I am a metalsmith. Further I work in metal and stone. Gold and silver are so historically tied with class, wealth, and exploitation. I see no reason to forgo the more accurate words metalsmith or jeweler or artist to adopt "gold" or "silver" where they dont actually mean gold and silver.

Sorry, I didn't mean to ruffle your feathers. I was talking about traditional definitions, not the modern title of 'metal smith'. The definition I put forward deals with what you make, not what it is made of. If you make items of personal adornment, you are a goldsmith, jeweler, metalsmith or whatever. The same goes for silversmithing. Call yourself what you prefer.
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hulagrub
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« Reply #5 on: September 13, 2013, 11:11:03 am »

Since, I have not got to play with gold, seems that would describe someone who works with gold. The rest of us mere mortals get to play with the lower priced metals. Kind of archaic terms, to describe what apprenticeship was all about.
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« Reply #6 on: September 13, 2013, 12:21:29 pm »

I believe hammering, melting, drilling and gouging things is too violent, and now just gently set my gold and silver sheets on beds of fragrant eucalyptus leaves and do an ancient artisanal dance and hope that the metal forms itself into self-affirming shapes. So far, they seem to want to stay as small rectangles, and I respect that.

Seriously, though: mining and marketing precious metals is a nearly entirely exploitative, wildly destructive, polluting and capital-intensive business. Banks control the metals markets, and have for a very long time. They raise money for the mining (for a tidy sum), they run the markets that set the prices (for a tidy commission), they own the warehouses that store the commodities (at tidy storage fees), they craft the speculative vehicles that have caused prices to soar (tacking on all sorts of tidy fees), then they extend credit to industry and craftspeople who need the material to fill orders (at a tidy rate of interest), and finally they control the credit card the bride and groom use to buy the wedding rings that are the final product (at tidy revovling finance charges). I agree that association between precious metals and banking isn't what most want to project. The problem is that the same associations now exists with all metals (copper, tin, aluminum, etc.).

As long as "gold" and "silver" are attractive words to customers, I think it is perfectly OK to use either term to describe one's business. It would be better to emphasize the craft side, though, as that is where the true value is added. But if you have a sheet of gold in a drawer somewhere under your bench or in a safe, then it is also OK with me if you want to call yourself a goldsmith. I'm more likely to go to someone with that on their shingle, than to a "plasticsmith"
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Carol M
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« Reply #7 on: September 13, 2013, 02:22:06 pm »

I have to admit, I would not call myself a 'Goldsmith' where I would call myself a 'Silversmith'.....or 'Student in Silversmithing' and 'hammerforming'.

I've read the Wikipedia blurb and what you say is consistent with what they say, but personally, if I called myself a 'Student in Goldsmithing' and someone said they'd like to see what I've made in gold.....I'd be totally embarrassed to say......'um, er, well, actually I've never [gulp] made anything in gold yet....I'm working in silver'.     hide
Thanks.....but no thanks.

Personally while my main interests are jewelry related in Argentium Sterling Silver and I don't even like to work in Copper, I'm not eliminating the possibility that I might make a 'non-jewelry' piece like a small bowl or repousse plate.

So, for me, it's a matter of not wanting to feel like I'm 'bragging' by calling myself a Goldsmith..... even though I am a member of SNAG [Society of North American Goldsmiths] and most of the students in that are working in silver or even brass and copper.
I think that many of them refer to themselves as 'Jewelry Artists'.
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Ciao,
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« Reply #8 on: September 13, 2013, 04:04:00 pm »

Michael David Sturlin agrees that a silversmith is traditional someone who forms functional items out of silver for use at the table such as bowls, tankards, platters, flat ware, etc. while a goldsmith is traditionally someone who makes items of personal adornment that will fit in a closed fist. Yes, I know of plenty of items of personal adornment that won't fit in a closed fist but that is his definition of a goldsmith and he is a pretty good one too. I consider myself a metal smith as I work in wrought iron, steel, cast iron, cast bronze, sheet bronze, brass, copper, pewter, lead, silver but never in gold, platinum or any of the other more unusual precious metals.
If you ever have a chance to take one of Michael's classes do so, it is a wonderful experience https://www.facebook.com/michael.david.sturlin
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« Reply #9 on: September 14, 2013, 10:22:21 pm »

You know... it's been years since I've thought about the terms, but 'traditionally', goldsmithy is absolutely right.

My parents were art dealers in Manhattan. As a child, that distinction was VERY VERY clear and drilled into me... but over the decades I forgot it.

Goldsmiths are jewelry makers. Silversmiths make candlesticks, spoons, even lockets, while jewelry could be considered utilitarian. But only goldsmiths worked with precious stones... and that's what 47th street was full of... goldsmiths who set the diamonds that came from the faceters in Isreal and elsewhere, and the rubies and sapphires that came from Thailand.

That first post brought back memories I had long forgotten. So few people work in gold these days, or at least in my immediate 'circle' that I hadn't given thought to it in years and years. That's such an odd thing, but it just dawned on me how differently I see jewelry today from when I was small... wow.
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« Reply #10 on: September 14, 2013, 10:48:35 pm »

Due to the outrageous cost of gold most of the traditional goldsmiths have become platinumsmiths, palladiumsmiths, stainlesssteelsmiths, titaniumsmiths, etc.
Bob
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Isotelus
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« Reply #11 on: October 24, 2013, 06:53:35 am »

Metalsmith tends to fit me just fine. Sometimes I work low carbon steel for trailer frames, sometimes 1095 alloy, Gold for Jewelry or Silver for Jewelry.

As far as the old Silversmith term goes it has been a long time since an artisan sat down with a huge sheet of Silver to beat up or form say a punch bowl on a bed of pitch, or stakes and decorate it with repousee, chasing and engraving. Very few are left who have such hand skills and many who do make articles for personal adornment- jewelry. Much silver flat ware today is cut out by presses with blanking dies and then stamped in a press with decorative dies to final shape.

That's not to say there are not a few traditional artisans left doing flatware but they are few, sadly.
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Bryan
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« Reply #12 on: October 24, 2013, 07:53:36 am »

I love to beat, burn and generally torture Gold and Silver. I love to reach into the earth and tear the bits of gold from from their hiding places. Exposing them to the sun and dreaming of the day they are transformed into some odd artifact to adorn someones person. I consider myself a Silver/Gold/ Rock Savage and enjoy myself in a most primal fashion!  yippie


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Bentiron
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« Reply #13 on: October 24, 2013, 02:11:36 pm »

I like that "savage" part, a more apt description of my work of late as my body deteriorates with pain and age, my art was never all that pretty to begin with but it has now entered a new stage, I'm now a metalsavage, sounds good to me. yes
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« Reply #14 on: October 25, 2013, 05:32:22 pm »

I love to beat, burn and generally torture Gold and Silver. I love to reach into the earth and tear the bits of gold from from their hiding places. Exposing them to the sun and dreaming of the day they are transformed into some odd artifact to adorn someones person. I consider myself a Silver/Gold/ Rock Savage and enjoy myself in a most primal fashion!  yippie




Is that why you have a large breasted woman running across your avatar stone? lol
Jim
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« Reply #15 on: October 25, 2013, 09:16:25 pm »

I haven't found the Agate that pictures me running away yet.......... bricks
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Bob

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Carol M
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« Reply #16 on: October 26, 2013, 10:49:02 am »

I like that "savage" part, a more apt description of my work of late as my body deteriorates with pain and age, my art was never all that pretty to begin with but it has now entered a new stage, I'm now a metalsavage, sounds good to me. yes

"Metalsavage".....You're a riot Bent!!! yippie
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Ciao,
Carol M
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« Reply #17 on: October 26, 2013, 03:49:23 pm »

Thank you Goldsmithy.  Sadly I did not know the definition of a goldsmith.  Always thought is was someone who only worked with gold.  I have no aversion to any metals.  Each has a unique characteristics that might be perfect for a design.  I'm not very experienced with working metal, but I know enough to understand the dedication it takes to master.  I completely agree with you, goldsmiths, metalsmiths need a  name to distinguish them from mass produced work.
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