Getting Started in Silversmithing and Jewellery Making

Preface

This article is presented purely as a basic guide offering information about the area of Silversmithing and Jewellery Making. Any decisions you make following reading this guide are your own to make, and we're definitely not responsible for them. That said, we hope it helps you to work out whether you'd like to pursue the subject as a hobby (or even potentially as a business) and that you find it useful.

We've broken the guide down into a number of key areas to help you find your way around:-

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Identify Your Interests

identifying your interests

Silversmithing and Jewellery Making covers a large set of skills and activities, and while it's great to have a go at all of them, it's best to tackle each area individually when you're first starting out. The best way to do this is to work out what sort of things you'd like to make - rings, pendants, hollow-ware etc.

Identifying the area you'd like to start in doesn't restrict you to that area - it's easy enough (particularly if you decide that the area you're trying isn't for you) to move into a different area of the subject provided the appropriate facilities (and sometimes budget) is available.

It's best to have a clear idea of what you'd like to achieve and what your ultimate goals are before you start, although it's not generally a problem if you change these part-way through, provided you re-plan accordingly!

The first decision you need to make is which level to work at; do you want to get into the subject as a hobby for your own enjoyment (and the occasional Christmas/Birthday present), or are you looking for longer term career prospects?

If you're interested in the subject as a hobby, you may also like to look for more social aspects such as joining a class.

If you're thinking about career prospects, you'd be much better off pursuing private workshops for training as these will enable you to progress much more quickly and can be tailored to suit your specific needs rather than following a general curriculum.

That said, it's not always a profitable career for everyone, so you might like to try your hand at it first and see where it takes you!

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Setting Your Budget

Once you've decided what you'd like to do, it's best to have an idea on how much you're prepared to spend - not only on the tools and materials you'll need to do the work itself, but also on how you're going to learn.

You'll know what your finances are like - if you're on a low income, it's certainly not impossible to learn Silversmithing and Jewellery Making, but you may find that you will need to plan to learn over a longer period to spread out the cost of materials etc, but also might need to start out smaller in terms of any education.

setting your budget

As a subject, it's one that we'd always recommend getting proper tuition in. Not only will you end up making much fewer mistakes than when you try to teach yourself (which all cost extra ££ due to wasted materials), but you might find you also make significantly faster progress and ultimately pick up fewer bad habits.

However, it's also wise to find out about the course provider itself if you're going for tuition. As with anything, some are better than others, in terms of the quality of tuition, the organisation of the course and how well it's run, and also with the budget for the provision of tools, equipment (and where appropriate, materials). We've seen some good examples, and many bad examples of course provision, so if you find that you're not happy with the course, remember that you can often find an alternative course within a reasonable travelling distance.

Also be careful that while many classes are advertised as 'Silversmithing and Jewellery Making', or 'Silver Jewellery Making' and similar titles, not all courses are the same and many are actually beading-focused or with minimal Silversmithing techniques taught.

If in any doubt, contact the course provider and ask to speak to the tutor, or ask on online forums to find out what other people think about the course - but try to keep a balanced view as those with bad experiences do always shout the loudest!

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Classes or Private Workshops?

Whether to go for a regular class or for private workshops will depend on your budget, what you want to get out of the tution and what your ultimate goals and current standing are. For example, our regularly-run classes are not open for commercial enrolment as we've found that not only is the class often not really suited to the pace that commercial students want to work at, but also that some commercial students tend to disrupt the class for other students.

classes or workshops?

Taking a private starter workshop can be a great way to find out if you're interested in the subject matter without the influence of other aspects of a class (social environment etc). With many private workshops, tuition is restricted to small groups and you can often specify who other attendees can be if you're booking the workshop for a group of your own.

Private workshops mean that you get one-to-one tuition (or at least, a much greater proportion of tutor time than you would on a class) and are ideal for those wishing to enter the sector commercially.

Classes, however, are much more social and can be a platform for meeting others with similar interests and making friends. The learning environment also tends to be much more relaxed and learning is usually at your own pace. Classes are also generally cheaper than private workshops as you are effectively sharing the cost with many more in the class.

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Putting together your first toolbox

With most classes and workshops, you don't need to provide any tools yourself as they're available from class stock. However, you might wish to start putting together your own toolbox either to work at home or to take to class with you.

One thing to bear in mind with taking your own tools to class is that you should always inform your tutor to check it's ok before bringing anything in. They may ask to inspect the tools when you bring them in to check that they're suitable for use. It's best to accept the inspection as it's certainly not an invasion into your privacy or a criticism of your purchases, but rather to ensure that the tools you have are safe for use (your tutor doesn't want you to get hurt!) and they may also offer additional advice for you regarding your tools.

We've already got a basic equipment guide, so we won't go into any more detail here - just take a look at the guide if you're interested in putting together a basic toolbox for getting started!

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