I brought this up lately - before, too, actually. There seems to be a
misunderstanding by some as to what the rolling mill is for - meaning
that it’s just a way of saving money by not buying mill products.
That is a factor, but what it really is is a way to custom make
anything you want. I go to shows and look at jewelry and very often I
will say, “Oh, look, it’s a 22 gauge silver sheet with some 14 gauge
wire soldered onto it.” Nothing wrong with that - millions of people
do it every day. I have a personal dividing line, though, and that is
that silversmithing is sheet metal and wire work, where goldsmithing
is sculpture. I made that up for myself, but it’s pretty accurate.
Where a silversmith will make a shank out of 12 gauge low dome wire,
I’ll roll out a fat piece of stock, make a circle, hammer the bottom
so it flairs out, hammer the top so it flairs upwards, file it all
out, maybe give it a twist or something, and there’s a sculpted shank
ready to solder. You can do that with stock, too, but the rolling
mill lets me start with just the right size for the job I’m doing -
not just 10 gauge, 12 gauge, etc., but 12.23456mm by 8.3984785mm -
just exactly what I want. And that’s why students should learn how to
use it if they want to progress in jewelry making - that gold shops
don’t just stick stock parts together, they actually make jewelry
from scratch, and the rolling mill is the center of that process.
I brought this up lately - before, too, actually. There seems to be a
John, thank you for this insight. I had never thought it to be as
simplistic as what you put forth as misunderstanding. I am certain,
though, I had not gone as far in my thinking as you, and I am sure a
multitude of others, obviously have. Barring taking classes, is
there a way to get an overview of the process of which you speak? Are
there texts, for example, which would serve as basic reference
materials until such time as I can take classes?
Thanks for your help.
silversmithing is sheet metal and wire work, where goldsmithing is sculpture. I made that up for myself, but it's pretty accurate.
I don’t understand why so many artists want to make some arbitrary
distinction between two metals. What I do with a white metal is no
less art than what you do with a yellow metal, nor what someone else
might do with a red metal. And given the demand, I can sell silver
jewelry for more than you sell gold jewelry for.
12.23456mm by 8.3984785mm - just exactly what I want.
Boy that is getting too precise and It would be tough make
production run with those measurement.
Rolling mills are also used to put patterns on sheet and wire other
than just making blanks metals.
I have seen some instructors twist wire and flatten to make a weave
Imagination and Creativity is also essential part of being a good
46 Jewelry Supply
You did it again, opened a can of worms.
There are several text books that define silversmith (the definition
has nothing to do with the type of metal worked, a common
misinterpretation.) The definitions being passed mostly from
England. Your definition of a gold smith is right on, the definition
of silversmith is ’ a craftsmen who forms metal through two planes
simultaneously, usually over stakes and anvils’, ie - vessels,
boxes, and types.
silversmithing is sheet metal and wire work, where goldsmithing is sculpture
That is an unfair assumption about people who work with silver.
Manipulation of metal, by whatever means, rolling mill, hammers and
stakes or hand tools is really what you are saying, I think.
Personally I work in argentium silver because I like its strength and
white metal. I work in 18kt gold too, but I don’t like the color so I
don’t do much in it. I do love the 18kt/silver bi- metals a lot.
There are many silversmiths who pour their own ingots and work them
down to create forged items and what about mokume? Those billets are
made of silver and other metals. Perhaps you should rethink your
remarks. I have also observed individuals who work in gold who do
just stick milled or purchased parts together and call themselves
goldsmiths. I have worked in shops who do exactly that, buy parts out
of a book and put them together.
silversmithing is sheet metal and wire work, where goldsmithing is sculpture
My old teacher gave me a handy rule of thumb for defining the
difference between goldsmiths and silversmiths - a rule of fist
really, as (according to him) a goldsmith (mostly) concentrates on
making objects that are smaller than a fist, whereas a silversmith
(mostly) concentrates on making obejcts larger than a fist. It isn’t
a question of material, nor talent, nor skill, nor level of training
- just method and size, mostly. In ye aulden days silversmiths mostly
created cups, bowls and other such vessels, and goldsmiths made
jewellery, and thusly silversmiths mostly worked with silvers, and
goldsmiths with gold. Mostly.
But this is all rather a side-tangent from the original subject,
which was the importance of knowing how to use a rolling mill. One of
the most essential tools of a precious metal smith, in my opinion,
and handy in countless more ways than just flattening a sheet of
...snip but the rolling mill lets me start with just the right size for the job I'm doing - not just 10 gauge, 12 gauge, etc., but 12.23456mm by 8.3984785mm - just exactly what I want.
Are you serious? Apart from making jewellery I also do model
engineering with precision machine tools. If I try really hard I can
almost achieve an accuracy to 3 decimal places of mm (eg. 12.123mm),
but no chance at all at 4.
I believe I’m right (somebody correct me if I’m not) in saying that
a 2" diam 12" long steel bar, when held horizontally by one end, the
other end will sag approx 0.0001" under its own weight.
A 1" gold rod at room temperature will change its length by
0.000014" for each temperature change of 1 degree C.
Since 0.00001mm = 0.00000039", do you really think you can work to
at least half a millionth of an inch, with a rolling mill?
Regards, Gary Wooding
You did it again, opened a can of worms. It's been awfully quiet here on Orchid lately... Boy that is getting too precise and It would be tough make production run with those measurement.
No, Kenneth, and I realized that was vague - I didn’t mean to
measure that close, I meant that it’s done to what is wanted, and if
it were to BE measured it would be extremely odd.
Like most things context is key. Where are you and where do you want to go.
Neil the reasonable one. It toured a shop some years ago that made
earrings and pendants with punch and hydraulic presses. Stuff like a
pressing a disc over a squiggle of wire to imprint it. Obviously
they bought huge quantities of mill products. Equally obviously the
workers weren’t really gold or silversmiths, they were machine
operators. But yes, there are places that do certain work and their
raw materials are bought accordingly.
Barring taking classes, is there a way to get an overview of the process of which you speak? And a couple of others who didn't get it
I’ve been in a lot of shops, and I’ve worked in several. What this is
really addressing is technique. Many’s the time I’ve seen people
coming into a large-scale shop looking for work, and coming from the
"so-called art jewelry" side of things, and they just don’t
understand how it works - and they don’t get the job, and frankly
people grin a little at the newbie’s naivete. Of course if you work
in gold, you’re a goldsmith - I didn’t think that needed to be said.
The FIELD of goldsmithing is something else, though, and those who
reach a higher atttainment in it are more like sculptors than
anything else. Goldsmithing at it’s best is more like waxwork, but in
Barring taking classes, is there a way to get an overview of the process of which you speak? Are there texts, for example, which would serve as basic reference
Evalie, probably the best books I’ve seen that approach a higher
level are by Alan Revere - I’ve only seen one or two, though, I
really don’t know what he’s put out more recently. This whole thread
comes off the question of what to expect at a bench test - there’s no
answer to that because it depends what work the shop is doing. And
I’m not trying to start an argument or even create a stir, largely
because what I say is true. The line between “silversmithing” and
"goldsmithing" is not really a line, and it’s more just a way of
illustrating different methods. I can say though, that a skilled
goldsmith will craft every surface and every detail. Some might
solder a wire prong onto the side of a ring, but a goldsmith solders
a larger wire and then crafts it into place and contours it so it has
style and substance - that’s what goldsmiths do. It largely comes
from the value of gold - it’s crazy to put 2 hours into a silver
piece with a $50 value, but a gold piece with a $2000 stone or
considerably more, or even with no stone, will warrant many hours as
needed. And that’s where people tend to fall short when they try to
get a job in a fine shop - they want to solder that stock wire and
walk away, and it’s not that is anything like lazy, it’s that the
shop has higher aspirations than sticking wires on things. And it’s
not an argument - it’s “Reach Higher”. Don’t stick on a wire, stick
on YOUR wire. Craft everything.
I assumed John (was it you John? Sorry if it wasn’t) was speaking
with his tongue firmly planted in his cheek. A mild touch of sarcasm.
It gave me a giggle anyway.
Are you serious? Apart from making jewellery I also do model engineering with precision machine tools. If I try really hard I can almost achieve an accuracy to 3 decimal places of mm (eg. 12.123mm), but no chance at all at 4.
In addition to what the other Gary said…
I sell precision measuring tools (micrometers, etc.) among other
things at the day job…
What does one use to measure/define a dimension like 12.23456
I can get you to .0001 inch pretty easily…but mm to five
Gary W. Bourbonais
Jewelry is Jewelry wether Silver, Gold, Beads, Pearl, Shell,
Plastic, Silicon or even PMC.
It does not matter what it is made of. I know that “12.23456 mm by
8.3984785 mm” was just getting a point across.
There are no known Rolling Mills for Jewelers that open to these
measurements. That is a mini mill will open to 4mm & monstrous big
Cavallins open up to 8mm.
Your 12mm figure is almost 1/2".
Silversmithing to my knowledge covered not only Jewelry but Table
Ware Flower Pots and whole lots of Gifts Artifacts like Staffs and
Canes, Thrones and Chariots etc.
Goldsmithing is not limited to Jewerly alone. Temples, Pagodas,
Dentistry, Electrical Conductor and Circuit Board manufacturers do
use Rolling Mills too.
Jewelry is not what you make it with or the cost of the material
46 Jewelry Supply.
Why should the material you work in determine whether or not one is a
true crafts person? Highly skilled artisans can be working in any
material that they find meets their needs and fancy. Wood, soapstone,
marble, iron, silver, canvas and paint, gold, platinum…
it’s not what you use but How you use it.
John, the smallness of my little pea brain is completely illustrated
by the fact that I was so excited to know that there were so many
things possible to be done with a rolling mill other than decreasing
sheet in gauge size and adding texture, that the differences between
silversmith and goldsmith or whether or not there even WERE any,
never occurred to me. THAT wasn’t what grabbed my brain in your
original post. Possibilities grabbed my brain, and for that, I thank
Why should the material you work in determine whether or not one is a true crafts person? Highly skilled artisans can be working in any material that they find meets their needs and fancy.
The distinction between craftsman working in precious metals and the
rest is because of requirements to preserve the scrap, specialized
soldering, been able to achieve structural integrity with the
material not suited for it, and etc.
Also economical factors. Techniques used when working with copper,
for instance, will put anybody out of business, if applied to
that the differences between silversmith and goldsmith or whether or not there even WERE any,
You’re very welcome, Evalie. Yes, silver is silver and gold is gold.
The notion that they are worked the same is to say apples and
oranges are the same…Yes, they are both fruit.
I can get you to .0001 inch pretty easily....but mm to five places....?
I already answered this, but I’ll do it again. Sometimes you hit the
send key and off it goes. What I meant by that statement was that
you roll out your piece (and yes, Kenneth, I just grabbed some
numbers) and if you WERE to measure it you would have a very odd
size - a little hyperbole to make a point, I guess.
Nice, spirited discussion here, I’d say. For myself, I’d like to stay
on point. There’s been a few posts on this about metaphysical
meanings of art and craft and “How dare you say that goldsmithing and
silversmithing are different?!” Duh… The question of this topic
that set this all off was, again, “What can I expect from a bench
test?” Which by extension I take to mean "How can I get a job? and
How can I break into the gold business? and “How do I get them to
say, 'You’re hired”. If you, the reader, want to string up paper
clips and call them necklaces, that’s perfectly fine with me. This
topic is about getting a shop to hire you in a serious job. My
qualifications: I began my career in the turqoise business in
Albuquerque as a silversmith. Through the years which I won’t go into
I got work in gold and platinum shops doing very high-end work, and
I’ve had my own shop in SF since 1983. I’ve known probably 1000
craftspeople of all kinds in that time, and been in the shops of a
great many of them. If I went out my front door and carefully rolled
a penny down the hall, it would bump into The Revere Academy’s front
door. Literally next door to them is Otto Frei’s SF office. Within
the space that I could throw a rock, as the crow flies, so to speak,
there are 20 - 30 jewelry manufacturers, 5 colored stone dealers,
probably 10 diamond dealers, 2 pearl dealers, several watchmakers and
others. There are 6 CNC rigs and 4 lasers that I know of around here,
and I have an RP guy who comes around frequently. If I were to take a
walk outside, I could go past Tiffany’s, Cartier and Boucheron on the
way to another building, in which there are another 50 people working
in similar ways, and be back to my place in 10 minutes. We are
approaching being one of the oldest tenants in the building - I know
almost everyone personally, and also many of those who come here to
do business. There are several people here on Orchid who just seem to
want to argue about nothing, and there are quite a few who know which
end is up in this business. If there’s a group that has it’s finger
on the pulse of the gold jewelry manufacturing business on a
real-world level, and what it takes to make it, I would be a part of
that group. Yes, in the real sense of the word, anyone who works in
gold is a goldsmith. In the best sense of the word, a goldsmith is a
person who works gold as gold, knowing it’s strengths, it’s
limitations and all that it can do. The notion that silver and gold
are worked the same just because they share some properties is just
plain nonsensical and quite frankly dangerous. By extension you would
have to say that iron, copper, brass, bronze and titanium workers are
all the same. Again (again!!! sigh…), this is not about art, this
is about getting a job. Of course there is overlap in the techniques
used, of course there’s really no need to draw lines and pigeonhole
anything. But if you want a shop foreman or owner to say, “Your
hired” in a gold shop you’re going to have to know what gold is
about, or a least have a good potential to learn. I’ve seen literally
100 people looking for work and sit at a bench for awhile who don’t
get that, who think that their art school or something like it
prepared them, and just fall flat on their faces - what I’m trying to
say on this thread is stuff that can help interested people not do
that. It’s not some esoteric argument about the nature of things, I’m
not “attacking” anybody’s ivory towers - you are welcome to them. It
is, in fact, simple reality - if you want the job you have to know
how to do the job. This is a gold shop - we work in gold and
platinum, we do what’s necessary to get the job done, and we let the
metals tell us what is needed. I’m far from egotistical, but it’s a
simple fact that I’ve been doing it (at times) for longer than you’ve
been on this earth. If your background doesn’t mesh with what we do
then you will be shown the door with a big smile and a hearty
handshake and best wishes. And yes it is just that simple.
We are obviously caught in the vortex of the clash of political
correctness and ignorance of grammar school knowledge. I just bought
a bag of tortilla chips with the assurance that it contains 368.5 gm
of product; I haven’t weighed it–but I don’t believe it! As they
say in Texas, “roll up your pants men-it’s too late to save your