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Goldsmith or Silversmith?

Okay, have the definitions of goldsmith and silversmith changed???

As far as I know a goldsmith is one who makes jewelry in either gold
or silver. A silversmith makes hollow ware out of silver.

Lately, I have noticed people calling themselves silversmiths
because they make jewelry out of silver.

Jennifer Friedman
enamelist, jewelry artisan, ceremonial silver, silversmith
Ventura by the Sea

Related Threads:

Job title?

Yes Jennifer, I agree. Having completed only a short course in
silverworking (not smithing) and having just the basics in terms of
skills, I am at a loss to know what to call myself, or describe
myself as. I don’t feel comfortable with any of the tags other than
perhaps “silver worker” but I try not to even use that! I’m certainly
not comfortable with the “jeweller” tag and I certainly do a lot more
"silverworking", than just threading. But I suppose to some, whether
its traditional jewellery using jewels or costume jewellery using
plastic, it’s still jewellery of a kind!

I think it is particularly relevant to our market too. There seems
to be an awareness of traditional jewellery here in Australia, and
costume jewellery. If what you make is not traditional, then my
perception is that it is classed by many with costume jewellery along
with Balinese, Indian and Taiwanese imports. I would like to see
more awareness of what I would call Contemporary Jewellery or
Wearables which may not use traditional materials and may not employ
such extensive skills as traditional jewellery, but still require the
makers to be inventive and enterprising in terms of their materials
used; and require the maker to have some skills.

For myself, my silver working skills have developed considerably
from where I started with additions of new equipment and skills as
the tasks/problems and solutions have required. I certainly would not
call myself unskilled but I am in awe of the refinement of techniques
and the skills exhibited by others. I am eternally grateful to the
friends, acquaintances amd now Orchidians who willingly share their
expertise, suggestions, and humour to add to my skills. The day I
stop learning will be the day I am nailed into a box!

I’m most interested to see what you and other Orchidians think and
whether any have suggestions as to acceptable terminology for persons
like myself!

:slight_smile: Kimmyg

 Okay,  have the definitions of goldsmith and silversmith

I know that word definitions change over time from common usage, and
I hear this misconception all the time (if I had a dollar for every
time I’ve been called a silversmith!). I called myself a silversmith
when I first started fabricating jewelry, and was taken to task over
the definition of the word, and since I thought I would confuse
customers by calling myself a “goldsmith” (since most of my work was
done in silver) I just split the difference and called myself a
metalsmith (which is still confusing - I recently had a conversation
with a guy who said when he was in the navy, metalsmiths were the
ones who repaired the ships).

SilverSorceress Designs
Unique, handcrafted Silver and Gemstone Jewelry

It really is a tough thing to figure out what the heck to call
myself- I’m not comfortable with either of the above terms, and
certainly not “jeweler”, so I settled on “metal artist” on my cards
and such, for lack of a better term. Clients seem to understand it,

Then again I wonder why I even bother to think about this. It seems
silly to try to nail down a term that would be universal for such a
varied field of artists and craftsmen. Whatever fits for the
individual, and relays to the consumer what it is we do as
individuals, is good enough.

Finding what fits is difficult!


According to my dictionary a silversmith makes silverware…Nope, I
don’t do that…but a goldsmith makes or sells gold…Nope, not that,
either… Besides, that’s just a wee bit ostentatious for someone who
is just oh, so slowly learnin’ the business of silverworking…

So, I’ve decided…I’m an AGgie…

AG Radio 107.4

1 Like

I agree with these definitions;

A goldsmith makes jewelry in either gold or silver; a silversmith
makes hollow ware.


Revere Academy of Jewelry Arts, Inc.
760 Market Street
Suite 900
San Francisco, California 94102
tel: 415-391-4179
fax: 415-391-7570

This is a complicated question, are you a goldsmith or are you a
silversmith, I can only give an answer that relates to the trade over
here in the UK as I know it. When I first started in this glorious
trade, I was told that silversmiths made hollow ware and large items
in silver, and goldsmiths made small work in gold, this did not make
sense at the time in the company that employed me, as many of the
silversmiths made large jobs in gold and also the goldsmiths made
small jobs in silver. I am a definitely a goldsmith, I was indentured
to a master goldsmith at the Goldsmith’s Hall, I served a six year
apprenticeship, starting at the age of fifteen and finishing at the
age of twenty one. Towards the end of my apprenticeship I had to make
what was called my “masterpiece” which I had to take with me, when I
eventually finished my apprenticeship, to the Goldsmiths Hall, where
I was part of an ancient ceremony at which I was given my freedom,
and then given papers stating that I was now a goldsmith. As the
Goldsmiths Company has been around since the 13th.century, I think
they have the authority to give me the title goldsmith, and I am
proud to have it.

Thats my pennyworth on the subject!

Good luck to all at orchid
James Miller
Freeman of the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths
Freeman of the City of London
Fellow of the Institute of Professional Goldsmiths
Ageing English Goldsmith.

1 Like

I was trained as both a gold- and silversmith.

The real difference between the two is that goldsmiths are more
involved in making jewellery and silversmiths more in hollowware,
like baskets, kettles, beakers etc… The material at hand is not
significant, could be copper aswell.

Here in Holland we have a word to describe both in one “edelsmid”,
which translates to “precious-metalsmith”.

So if you are creating jewellery, you’re a goldsmith. When you’re
creating tableware, you’re a silversmith. When you do both, you’re a

A little simplified, but I think that’s the correct explanation… or
atleast comes close.


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I figured it out. After months of thinking I decided what I want to
be when I grow up or at least what I will from now on call myself
when asked what I do. No longer will I be a “metalsmith”,
“silversmith” , “goldsmith” ,“jeweler”, “artist”, “art jeweler”, “I
make jewelry…” I will from now on say I am a “silver and
goldsmith”. I decided while reading an Orchid thread a while back
about this topic that saying I was and “Art Jeweler” was inviting a
half hour description of what it is that I do, in other words 99.99%
of anyone I told that to wouldn’t know what the hell it was and even
worse would think of buying anything from me when they wanted
jewelry. Same with “metalsmith” few people are interested in what the
hell that is. Saying “silversmith” brings to mind Paul Revere if they
are at all educated and then invites the question, " do you work in
gold" if they connect the “silversmith” label with jewelry.

Saying “artist” invites," you PAINT???" since only 2D are artists in
the public mind.

If I wish to make a living at this craft, I would not say “craftsman"
since few would connect that to what I usually do to make a living,
it had to be a name I would be proud to say and not have to explain
too much, I’m not a social animal despite what you might have seen on
stage on previous Orchid dinners. “jeweler” brings to my mind a bench
jeweler which I am not, that would be insulting to real bench
jewelers who actually know what they are doing. My work doesn’t
compare to an experienced bench jeweler, my stone setting is crude
and slow. My carving is cartoonish. I can fabricate like nobody’s
business and I think I can innovate pretty damn well. " I am a gold
and silver smith” brings to my mind an old world craftsman and
invites educated questions since the title is succinct, “do you work
with diamonds?”, yes, " do you work with colored stones?", yes, " do
you hit metal with hammers?" yes. What do you think?

Sam Patania, Tucson

    now on call myself when asked what I do. No longer will I be a
"metalsmith", "silversmith" , "goldsmith" ,"jeweler", "artist",
"art jeweler", "I make jewelry......" I will from now on say I am a
"silver and goldsmith". 

I know I’ve always had a fondness for being a hybrid
goldsmith/silversmith when forging in that I will use a saw to cut
away and file the top of a vessel that has gone awry, hence not a
true silversmith. I guess a goldsmith who employs silversmithing
techniques at times would also be valid. I also love my emery to get
off firescale, true silversmiths hailing from Europe don’t see a
problem with firescale as it is prevalent in the work I’ve seen …
but our culture doesn’t accept that, hence a sanding I will go. It
has to do, based on my teaching, to do with the tools and techniques
you employ, not the medium you use. Education of the client is a
daily struggle, however, but one that should not be shirk from. If
they understand what they are buying better they’ll appreciate it
better, and of course will explain it better when queried at parties
making them feel all the more learned. But everyone has their own
path, and it’s hard to get my heckles up with labels … never been
much for them personally, but they do convey a lot when used.

K. David Woolley
Fredericton, NB
Bachelors of Applied Arts