Metalsmithing books for art appreciation students

I’ll be teaching Art Appreciation at our local technical/community
college starting in August. Went through the library today to see
what they had and where there were holes in the collection. Next to
nothing on jewelry, nothing at all on any other type of smithing. Any
suggestions on books that I might suggest to the librarian? Need both
something that covers the history, and a contemporary look at what is
going on in the fields now.


Beth Wicker
Three Cats and a Dog Design Studio

Chicago Metalsmiths, could be this one, but without the cover, I
can’t be sure:

Twentieth-Century Jewelry: Art Nouveau to Modern Design Lodovica
Rizzoli Eleuteri

The other areas where you can find some is books on
specific regions/countries, i.e. Taxco, or people, i.e. Georg

There may be some passing mentions in a history of fashion book.

You may need to cobble together a collection – this book on modern
jewelry, this book on Mexican silversmiths, this book on some
ancients. I am not aware of a book that provides a cohesive, long
term history on jewelry.


Hi Beth,

I would recommend the book by a fellow orchidian, James Miller. This
book titled “The Work of a Master Goldsmith;A Unique Collection"
shows many fine creations that demonstrate the skills of a living
goldsmith. Skills that I think reflect the quality of traditional
training of old skills. Others have commented on his book saying that
his work equals that of the old Russian masters such as Faberge. I
have had the pleasure of meeting with James in the past and had some
personal one to one teaching in goldsmithing, a period in my work
history that I shall treasure. James told me of a book to buy called
"Metal Techniques for Craftsmen” by the late Oppi Untracht and I can
also recommend this book for students.


If you want something historical, try “On Divers Arts” by Theophilus

  • it’s from the 12th century, and it’s probably the first “how-to
    guide” ever written on jewellery (plus painting and glassmaking).
    It’s very accessible. For any more suggestions along those lines,
    drop me an email. I’ll leave it to others to suggest modern texts.


do not think there is a good history of post WW2 jewelry book, but
it would be awesome… Tyler/Temple University had a website for
jewelers in the past put together by a grad student documenting
modern jewelers…I found their site:

Maybe consider some of the Lark books with the 500 of rings,
bracelets, necklaces and so on.

In the textbook that I use for the art apprec class I teach, we had
a section about Albert Paley. It was great because he has made
sculptures in the area and was visiting one semester in which 2 local
university museums did exhibits of his work. Even though the Renwick
Gates are no longer in the text book, I still show his work to my
students. I have a book of his work from the museum shows. I would
guess there are good Art Nouveau metalwork books that would worth
investing in.

I did a search on Amazon for “American Craft” and this has some
books that look interesting:

Also, some of the Art 21 maybe applicable.
Melissa S.

I recommend the book on Alexander Calder’s jewelry (fantastic
photos), but I don’t know a source for an affordable copy to send you
to - perhaps others know the best place to purchase it? I saw his
jewelry on exhibit last year in New York and spent half my time
studying his clasps, connections, etc. - good topic for beginners.

Mary Partlan
White Branch Designs 

That directory was started by Lori Krause some years back, but is a
current ongoing project too, maintained by faculty and current grad
students. However, it does not cover all groups of modern jewelers.
Rather, it’s an “academic” directory, listing people who have taught
or are currently teaching metals/jewelry at various college and
university level programs. Any jeweler/metalsmith who has a history
of teaching in such programs beyond the graduate student teaching
assistant can be listed there. But people who’ve only worked as
artists or commercial jewelers, not as teachers, are not on the
directory. Still, it’s a remarkable reference source about many of
the people who’ve had the most influence on the direction and
promotion of metals and jewelry (in the U.S. especially,) since
world war 2. If you or some teacher you know who should be on that
list is not yet there, contact Tyler and the info can be added.

Peter Rowe

Melissa that is very interesting that you mention Albert Paley. He
was one of the Keynote speakers at the CoMA (Colorado Metalsmithing
Association) Conference in Salida, CO last weekend. Wonderful speaker
and showed slides of the amazing sculptures that he has created. I
was so intrigued. BIG stuff!

Didn’t know until then that he has numbers of books in publication!

The Conference was a huge success. Had attendees from at least 44
other states, which included Canada! Our membership is growing, but
can’t quote today the number!

Rose Marie Christison