Would like to begin creating silver rings with stones and patterns

Hello all!

I’ve been making jewelry for the last few years, but nothing that requires heat or casting. I would like to start creating silver (and other metal) rings, preferably ones that I can fully customize the band and add a cabochon or faceted gemstone to. I have no tools for this (yet!) and I have around $150 to spend on getting started. It seems like my best bet is to create lost wax molds and send them off for the actual casting? Then solder the cab on afterwards, if it has one? So many options… I did the best research I could but decided getting a membership here was worth having my question answered by some folks with experience :]

I have good news for you, Greyewolfe, you don’t need to send your wax models to a caster. You can make a very inexpensive steam casting outfit and you probably have most of the stuff around your house. I’d suggest you just Google “steam casting” and go from there. I started casting that way some thirty plus years ago. Since then I have upgraded my equipment but still do steam casting.

Jerry in Kodiak

Hi Greye Dixon,

I have made a short list of what could be the most basic set of tools, but before I post it here, it would be helpful to know more about yourself.

  1. I guess your in the USA, based on your spend denomination.

  2. Age

  3. M or F

4.what for you do for your daily living

  1. Most importantly, where do you plan to sell?

Now in the USA the main way of making jewellery is by fabrication, then casting.
There is a 3rd way thats largely neglected.
Thats metal working by the wrought method.
i mention this as it would give you an edge over every other person who works in a simple way, like your going to do.
The main reason is, its so much faster and therefore profitable, as well as the designs you can do that others cannot.

Most of my work has always been wrought, and therefore do have the all important edge over other makers.

Tho im not in the US, im in the UK.
Also you will be able to work up your skill level and speed on a next to nothing material cost, copper! before you spend on silver metal.
Jerry,s advice on steam casting is good even if its just for background know how.
Await your reply.

Thanks jerry! I’ve begun the research already and it definitely looks like something I will try! Never even heard of it, but then again I’m new to this. A million thanks and I’ll eventually post an update once I’ve got some wearable rings and pendants!

Hello! I’m a 28 year old male in California, and making jewelry is what I already do for a living. I sell at events and fairs and would like to grow the online aspect of my business.

Hi Ted,
" Now in the USA the main way of making jewellery is by fabrication, then casting.

There is a 3rd way thats largely neglected.
Thats metal working by the wrought method.
i mention this as it would give you an edge over every other person who works in a simple way, like your going to do.
The main reason is, its so much faster and therefore profitable, as well as the designs you can do that others cannot."

 I wonder what your source is for what I would call misinformation. I know people who fabricate one offs, people who carve waxes, people who forge and fabricate, people who use CAD-CAM, people who engrave, people who do etching.

I have been involved in making jewelry for over 40 years…and I use the technique that produces the results I want, I learn the technique required for the results desired. Maybe you can spend some time on Facebook looking at silversmithing and goldsmith groups to see the depth and variety of techniques and processes used. I have been a member of Orchid for 15-20 years, and I have seen a change, a few people post work that is very specific and limited in processes used. Unfortunately, I believe a lot of people have migrated to Facebook groups specific to the techniques and processes they use for their work, for questions specific and relevant to the type of work they do.

 I do not see questions about pouring ingots, casting problems, soldering issues, rolling mill alignment, enameling issues, like I used to see....

Richard and all
I was on Facebook for 'Jewellers Helping Jewellers" for only a very short
time. Too much information & mind-boggling numbers of people who chime in
for ‘this and that’ and all at once. It was crazier than at a bus-terminal
announcing ‘arrivals’. I prefer this site over many that I’ve seen, no
insults to offend anyone…one important thing here is all of this is for
We all must participate…again, realizing we are helping everyone with
their problems and 'no idle chatter"!!!

*Gerry Lewy *

1 Like

Hi Richard,
Thanks for your request on how I came to my conclusion, what you call misinformation.
When this forum changed , it was then possible to do many new things. The one that interested me was the 250 or so pictures posted in bench exchange.
I looked at every single one, and my conclusion was that they were all bar one bench jewelers.

There wasnt a single fly/screw press nor leg vice nor stakes for doing metal forming with hammers. Only one had anything like a silversmithy workshop.
Also since we have the top? fabricators here like ~Jim Grahl,Janet in Jerusalem and others. I considered that this represented the main way of working in your land.

The only workshop anywhere like mine here is the work shop of Kevin Potter. Tho he isnt primarily a maker, but a tool supplier to this trade. See his workshop tour.

Obviously the black or iron smiths are quite different, and I do know your leading lights as well.
Andy Cooperman does wrought buckles , very clever, but he is an exception.

So its rare, that we get a request for help from someone that has stated a budget, in this case $150. to start using heat etc in making metalwork. . Thats quite a challenge but possible.
So what do you advise? this 26yr old on your W coast get for his money?
I have a clear idea what he needs that will produce saleable work especially as he already sells in markets and fairs, tho he doesnt say what he makes.
Nothing wrong with that.
By concentrating on wrought work he will have an edge over the competition since so few folk make this kind of product. ill also outline what he can make with the kit Id suggest.
If you have followed many of my posts on this forum and seen the pictures I posted, you should by now have a good idea where im coming from.
Theres plenty of time for him to move onto stone work when he has mastered the basic skills and made the money to fund this.

Ted, I had a retail store for 24 years and I sold
the work of other metalsmiths.
The landscape of what I knew has changed
so much in the last decade, I am not sure what
advice I could give, not knowing what he makes,
what his market is.
Used to be art and craft fairs were good
venues for jewelry makers. Not so much
anymore, I know well established jewelry artists
that had once done well, have several years of
break even, or lose money.
I have said that thee are two parts, front end,
making, and back end, marketing.
I have no idea of how metalsmiths in
England sell their work.
My opinion is that since 2008, economy has
had a big impact on how people spend
discretionary income.
From what I read, people have websites, use
Facebook, Instagram, and Etsy.
My perspective is that one creates what is
common in the market place and fights for
market share, or does work that
creates a separation between what
everyone else is doing and creates oneself
as a point of destination, work that is
unique and desirable, what people will spend
their dollars for and think what they bought
is worth more than dollars spent.
Not knowing the design ability of the
individual, skill level, materials used, or what
markets are available by geography makes
it hard for me to make suggestions.
My own personal experience, I am mostly
self taught. When I started, there were not so
many options for learning jewelry making.
My regret is that I did not know where I
could take classes, this was 1960-70’s,
the learning curve would have been so
drastically reduced.
There is a woman who had a gallery for
a long time and wrote a book to help and
guide jewelry artists in marketing their work,
Marlene Richey, Profit by Design, A jewelry
maker’s guide to business success
Education from a very successful and
respected person…

Product description

If you’re a jewelry designer, running your own business can be one of the most challenging, exhilarating, nerve-wracking, and ultimately rewarding things you’ll ever do. In this book, Marlene Richey offers a basic, easy-to-understand guide to becoming just such a “nano entrepreneur,” covering everything from identifying a target market and setting up shop to pricing, marketing, and selling your individual designs–all while having fun along the way. She also provides real-life lessons from such esteemed jewelry designers as Barbara Heinrich, Michael Bondanza, Chris Correia, and Michael Good, among others. Profiting by Design will show you how to succeed at starting a business that you can proudly call your own.”

Hi GW,Good of you to reply.
Growing your on line business isnt something i can help you with. Im am and always have been a direct dealing with the customer person. Design make and market the product. Thats just me. youll have to solve that one yourself. however, as to tools etc to do proper as in wrought and soldered metal work, this is what id suggest , excluding the bench.
Now, what could you put together for $150. Im in the UK but prices are much the same.
youll need,

  1. a proper bench, not a jewellers one but one thats 8ft by 4ft. made from 4in legs with 6 by 2in top planks etc. Why? because what your going to fix to it. Properly bolted together.
  2. to this say on one end or in the middle of the 8ft side a proper leg vice with minimum 3in , better 4in jaws. this is your 3rd hand. the center of your wrought work., securely bolted down.
  3. next a tinmans stake, that a “T” stake say 6-8in top, half is flat and the other half has half round grooves from 5/16th in down to 1/16th in .
  4. a selection of hammers steel and nylon.
    5.a small metal cutting saw, jewellers saws are ok but somewhat fraglie blades.
    6.a steel ring stick thats from 1 and 1/16thin at the thick end to 1/2in at the thin end.
  5. replicas of this in broom handle , get a wood turner to make up 3 or 4.
    8.A propane torch, one that screws onto a small as in 1ft by 3in tank.
    9.a cordless electric drill.
  6. several grades of wet/dry car body finishing paper, fron 100 grit upto 600 grit.
    11.all the pliers snips small hand shears you can lay your hands on.
  7. some light weight fire bricks to make a soldering/ brazing /heating area.
    got any pottery friends.?
  8. a pickle area. thats tricky, because there are 2 ways to pickle after soldering and annealing, either you use H2so4 dilute like i do, its old battery acid, or water softener sodium bisulphate and hyd peroxide.the latter uses a lot of hpox every day. Ive had an argument with others here over how to mix it up . some said you do it like cooking! (Stupid!) take a one cup of the powder to one cup of hydpox. which isnt correct.
    then a rinsing area of clean water and an alkali like wash up liquid in water. that will get you started in making the simplest silver rings that will earn you the money to progress on to more complex work and thus tools.
    14.If theres anything left in your budget, an electric motor say 1/2 to 3/4 hp at 1440 rpm plus a tapered spindle to fix to the shaft. Bolted to the bench of course.
    Please confirm your getting a good idea what im driving at.
    any pics of what your making and selling now?

Hi this s/ware has screwed up again,
9 to 13 are missing!
ill try and recall the thoughts.
sorry about this.

Hi Richard,
Thats really interesting ! here its is the latter target that we as individuals in the UK aim for.
I went to look at a possible venue last Nov for this year, at our local agricultural college. It was run by the local cancer group The Mcmillan trust, well organised, with the car park full of BMW Merc R/Rover Audi. etc. there was money about.
Was/is over 3 days.
There was no one selling their own work Very odd I thought as most was clothing, expensive foods wines etc. A couple of individuals had the see it everywhere imported plated! small ware, and wernt selling anything. not surprised!. I could see a real potential there for me for this year.
Allso ive a private mailing list of potential customers for my major expo here at my w/shops studio come July for my 50th year!
So were both old timers I guess. Ive alwas made what others dont, perhaps thats why ive survived so long.
As for our beginner, well see if he rises up to the challenge.


Your experience in brick and mortar sales as well as how you keep abreast of what’s going in in jewelry sales at art shows and craft shows makes your opinion very valuable.

With the influx of people moving to Denver and Colorado we did see. Pleasant uptick in sales our last two shows.

I think it’s worthy to mention that there has been a paradigm shift in the current art jewelry market with price points up to $2000. It seems like younger people are more interested in buying the latest iPhone instead of a $1000 piece of jewelry.


Wow everyone, thanks so much! I’m practically overwhelmed with advice! :]
I think moving forward with lost wax casting is the best step, and when it comes time to actually cast I will most likely attempt the steaming method. I will have to look into wrought jewelry more deeply to fully understand it. For now I’m awaiting my casting kit in the mail, which includes wax, several sculpting knives, an alcohol lamp and I think a few more things.
** side note, my current products include shamballa bracelets, Sterling bracelets, necklaces, and earrings made with Bali beads, very special figurines, and more, for those who were curious as to what I currently make. Pliers and wires can get you far, if you’re inventive enough :]

Hi GW,
Now you have given us your response, and information on what you make. I understand your wish to go down the casting road.,especially on your admnission you dont know anything about wrought work.
What I had in mind was, now i have listed what you could get for your $150.00, i planned in part 2, to write just how you would use these tools. This would be in the making of say 12 sterling silver wrought twisted and forged rings in just 2 hours! that you could easily sell for $15.00 each,
with a silver cost of only $2.50 each. I know that the casting way will never match wrought work in money made per hour in the price range as a beginner you will be limited to.
You too, can do the math to show what your time then is worth. if you use my advice in making say 30 hrs a week and selling for 8.
If your still interested will you please let us know, and ill write some more on howto. It might just be of interest anxyway to someone else on this forum.

Hi Ted,

Would like to see some of your wroughten products. Could i please?


Mail me of list to
vladimirdotfrateratgmaildot com
Happy then to help

Personally, I would love to learn more of your technique and your process, Ted, if you are willing to share.
The more tools one has to draw from in their bag of skill, the less limited a craftsperson becomes in choices on ways to approach new projects.

Hi James,
See my reply to Una,
Likewise mail me off list. Explanation in my reply.

To both of Una and James,
and every one else ive corresponded with over the yrs, here on Ganoksin and prior to that on Orchid… As I have not heard from either of you 2,

Here are my final thoughts on this forum.

I regret im no longer planning on being active ,ie posting my answers, pictures and comments on this forum.
It was a decision I didnt want to make but my best efforts over the past 6 months have been largely ignored, or folk have gone ahead and done the exact opposite to my professional advice. Consequently my time is too
valuable to spend on posting here.

So it was from the 1/3/18 I decided to only work on a one to one basis off forum. Una, you will have to ask the moderator Seth, how to search for all the many wrought pictures ive posted, and James, likewise I have posted pictures and descriptions of my tools, workshop, exhibition unit and processes I used over the past 50 years or so. Its all there in the archives.

I have been accused of being verbose amongst other things here, Im not a bench jeweller, and have never really fitted in to this present day community. My main influences have been the rennaisance goldsmiths and then the techniques developed in the 1850’s in the Birmingham jewellery quarter.

Nobody here works like I do nor has the equipment I have here. I have more in common with iron smiths despite not making ferrous products and working in that metal. I do make all my own structural
steel work as and when needed.

Wrought work would have been the saviour of many small business in the USA, its been largely ignored, so be it. At the end of the day, we all survive or fall by our efforts.

Wish you all well.