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JA Cert Masters Test


Recently, I have been interested in applying for the JA Masters
Test. I’m sure these questions are old ground for many but, I
wasn’t aware until a couple of years ago that such a test existed.
I’ve been mulling over the idea of taking the test but time is
always of the essence. Frankly, I work my kahonies (or kahonettes
if you prefer) off and making these pieces for nothing have always
kind of chapped-my-cheeks. And, paying for the privilege kind of
works across my grain. However, I do see the need for an industry
standard and something other than a self-accreditation. I can’t
tell you the number of self-styled or company certified “Master
Jewelers” who think casting is something performed exclusively in
Hollywood. (Man, that felt good:-)

To my point: In the literature I see that JA requires one to
fabricate a dome box with a flat set cross on top. In over 25 years
of making jewelry no one has ever asked me to make a box.

I’m thinking of making a prototype in silver but, I’m faced with a
couple of problems. One, I don’t really work in silver. Oh sure,
occasionally some fixey thing. Two, I’ve never made a box.

So, brothers and sisters of the bench, how do you make a stinking
box with a dome top. I can flat set and have built many catch and
hinge systems through the years, but, again, no box.

Books, references, web sites, whatever.

Not too proud to beg!



You can minimize the cost of the testing by taking a prerequisite
test to jump to the level you want to be tested at. So if you want
to be tested for Master Certification and you’re an experienced
metalsmith/jeweler, you can take a relatively short practical test
that involves cleaning up a cast ring (maybe sizing it, too. I can’t
remember.), channel setting, chain repair and wax carving a
multi-stone ring that includes a fancy shaped stone and melee. I
can’t recall the fee, but it’s much cheaper than taking any of the
other certification level tests. If you pass this practical test,
you go directly on to do the three master level projects (platinum
3-stone ring, silver box with bead set appliqued gold cross and gold
pendant with emerald cut stone, wire trim and bead set bail )
followed by the two written tests (one open-book and one
closed-book). All five parts are timed and proctored. After you
pass the five parts (3 practical, 2 written), you are certified as a
Jewelers of America Master Bench Jeweler. The most time consuming
part of the test is the shipping back and forth of goods and

Donna Shimazu


You might take at look at Tim McCreight’s book BOXES & LOCKETS.

Boxes & Lockets: Metalsmithing Techniques
By Tim McCreight

Manufacturer : Craftsman House
Release data : 01 May, 2002

It goes into the mechanics and fabricating of boxes. It will
definitely give you a starting point in box making.

Donna Shimazu

The new Complete Metalsmith PRO edition with CD has instructions on
making a box.

Complete Metalsmith, ProPlus Edition
By Tim McCreight

price: $38.25

Media: CD-ROM
Manufacturer : Brynmorgen Press
Release data : February, 2004

Elaine Luther
Metalsmith, Certified PMC Instructor
Hard to Find Tools for Metal Clay


Alan Rvere produced a video on making a box, but it doesn’t have a
dome. Still, it’s a good resource. I wish I had viewed it prior to
my taking the test if for no other reason than to reference tools
that would’ve helped save time. Since the test is timed,
specialized tools are quite helpful.

It’s a really good idea to get some experience with sterling. The
same advice is pertainant to those with little experience in working
with platinum or wax. The test is designed to put those who have
broad knowledge, but perhaps not so deep, and those with very well
developed skill in fewer areas on a more equal footing. Therefore,
if you have 8 hours to make one project yet your familiarity with
that material allows you to get it done in 6 hours, you can use the
extra time on a project that you are less familiar with.

The silver box, in my opinion is the more challenging, precisely
because it’s not your average job. But these jobs do come up from
time to time. At least with the certification, you can spend some
time preparing. The real challenge is figuring out how to make an
18 karat cigar holder when a client casually brings the job by and
says they need 2 of them made in 3 weeks!

Good luck
Larry Seiger
JA Certified Master Bench Jeweler since 1997

Larry is right. There are three demanding 12-hour projects on the JA
Master test: Ring, Box, Pendant. Volume 7 of my videos, Revere on
Goldsmithing, shows how to make a hinged silver box with a cross of
gold on top. It is almost identical to JA’s and includes the same
hinge as their test project. JA’s box goes further and has a domed
lid and a cross of 18k in which to set 20 diamonds, pave style.

Go here to see the box and about my video, which is now
available on DVD:

Alan Revere

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


I understand what you are saying. I said many of the same things
before I took the test. Last time I looked JA had a “war chest” of
over 10 million dollars and could afford to lower their dues and
fees, in my opinion. Anyway, back to your question, get a copy of the
Alan Revere video on building a silver box. Alan does an outstanding
job going step by step. It took all of the mystery out of the
project for me. I don’t work very much in sterling either. So, I
made a practice box after seeing the video. Another idea is to go to
the Professional Jeweler website and look for a past article with
Jeffery Matthews using a Foredom Allset to cut groves and folding the
box sides. The article is in the section on Bench Certification. If
you like, email me off-list.

Have fun and good luck.

James S. Cantrell CMBJ