New in our Digital Antique Books Library…
How to Make Jewelry by George S. Overton, 1914
Practical Instructions From A Practical Manufacturing Jeweler.
This 1914 book is composed of articles drawn from the Magazine “The
Manufacturing Jeweler”. At 240 pages of eclectic, informative
articles it is a treasury of jewelers secrets and skillful working
techniques. Tons and tons of This book is a real
addition to your library: most of it is still essential today. There
is so much cool that this review is much longer than
normal. This book answers many problems that all jewelers have
today: it is very current in those terms.To give you an idea of the
vast range of subjects covered here is a listing of the chapters.
Most were written by Mr. Overton.
Designing of Jewelry, Hints on Melting, The Alloying of Gold,
Formulas for Alloys and Solders, Getting out Plating Stock,
Wire Drawing and Working, Making of Solders, Solder and the
Quality Stamp, The Soldering of Parts, Tips on Soldering and
Stone Setting, Repairing Stone Set Work, Gilding with Electric
Current, Red Gilding, Resists for Two-Color Work, Acid
Coloring, Precautions in the Coloring Room, Silver and Its
Alloys for Jewelry Work, Solutions for Silver Plating, Black
and Gray Finishes on Silver, Gun Metal Finish, Silver as a
Base for Black Enamel, Enameling of Jewelry, Enameling of
Jewelry (Continued), The Melting of Platinum, Working in
Platinum, Recovery of Gold and Silver from Scrap, Refining
Polishing Sweeps, Filtration of Washings, Testing for Pure
Gold, Keeping Track of Gold, Figuring Shop Costs, Reducing
Labor Costs, Time and Labor Savers, Some Shop Problems, The
Buying of Stones, Making Pearl Jewelry, Drilling Pearls for
Stringing (illustrated), Ring Making’n Sizing and Soldering of
Rings, Chain Making, Making Flower Work, Making a Line of
Pins, Horseshoe Jewelry, The Maltese Cross in Emblems, Some
Attractive Novelties, Making Eyeglass Frames, Hints on
Soldering, Polishing and Burnishing, Practical Hints for
A number of specific items from the book are noted here. The
introduction talks about how the magazine the articles came from was
threatened with lawsuits for giving away jewelers secrets, protests
from companies about sharing
There is an introduction on designing, speaking of the need to
understand jewelry making before designing. Design instructions and
exercises are given, techniques for learning design and practicing,
for jewelry rendering and design. All still good today.
A discussion of melting is definitely earthy. I think metallurgy has
advanced a bit since then, but still very interesting and the fruits
of generations of knowledge. The alloying and colored gold
is good. There are dozens of colored gold alloys
described in detail. Gold and silver alloys for enameling on are
extensively detailed. Enameling itself is dealt with in depth in a
number of places in the book. Gold solder alloys and making are
covered well, including for colored golds. The only thing we would
avoid today is using cadmium. Another one is mercury, simply don’t
go there, and hydrofluoric acid, though all the is
insightful and historically important to those with a technical
There is a chapter on making laminate metals with gold soldered onto
base metals. I have not seen this described before like this. Wire
making and drawing is fully dealt with. Several unique tricks for
cutting and making jump rings are addressed.
Soldering is described in depth, making fluxes, solder flow
retardents (one of them the juice of an onion!). Soft soldering is
described as is repair work with the stones still set and plating in
There is lots of worthy advice. For instance, in regard to the risk
of damaging set stones during a repair: “A good axiom to remember is
that it is always better to talk about a thing two or three times
before than once afterwards.” Electroplating is fully described,
including how to make the chemicals that you use to make
electroplating solutions (this, today would need a chemical lab).
Silver, gold, platinum, iron and other metals are covered. There are
a number of plating solutions described, 14k, green gold, red gold
and more. Multi colored resist plated in described. A very good full
description of gold coloring (depletion gilding) is given, with best
alloys defined. There is a strong and important chapter on safety
and ventilation, a plea for improvements for worker health and
The is all practical and ensuing from generations of
working people’s empirical experience. Really good stuff. And almost
all of it true. Testing methods for silver are described and the
chemical recipes given. Liver of sulfuring and other graying methods
for silver are addressed. An interesting note is that at that time
people would bring in their jewelry to have it blackened for
mourning, which might last years, so blackening jewelry was an
important skill for the goldsmith.
The vagaries of the market are continually addressed, for instance:
“The point is that you can’t nibble at everything; you may have an
established trade with a few old concerns, but the young blood
coming along is forced, as a matter of self preservation, to keep
thoroughly posted on the newest and most up-to-date novelties, so
the specialist is bound to get in because he will have better goods
at lower prices.” Much like today.
Platinum melting and working is described, one of the earliest
examples I have seen. Platinum clad nickel was a way to stretch the
material, platinum clad base metal. As well much work was done in
very thin platinum backed in high carat gold. Platinum at this time
was $43 an ounce, and it had risen to this in several years from $6
The chapter on reclaiming metal and refining is solid, even covering
reclamation from polishing sweeps and waste-water. Metals testing is
covered. Metal control and anti-theft remains good
today. Product development, costing and marketing are described.
Labor cost reduction is analyzed, all the principles are still good
and wise. The rise of specialization, and mass production techniques
is detailed. The introduction of vacuum cleaners is heralded.
There is a long section on responses to reader’s letters and
questions which covers all sorts of odd techniques. There is a lot
of about running a business, dealing with stones etc.
The section on pearl setting and drilling is interesting and points
out how much we use our flexible shafts today: the emphasis is on
pump drills, (which I learned on) and making the bits yourself.
Pearl drilling pliers are described.
There is a section on making flower designs in metal. Good section
on pearls. A really interesting section on eyeglasses and design
issues for that, today a well paying niche market. I have not seen
other books address this There is a section on bench
tricks, and interesting ways of goldsmithing. The section on
polishing is great, thorough and unique.
There is a thorough index. All jewelers should read and review it.
File Size: 12.6MB, 240 Pages
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