Goldsmith

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The Baqdadi goldsmith by Kamal-ol-molk Goldworker in Baghdad.jpg
The Baqdadi goldsmith by Kamal-ol-molk

A goldsmith is a metalworker who specializes in working with gold and other precious metals. Nowadays they mainly specialize in jewellery-making but historically, goldsmiths have also made silverware, platters, goblets, decorative and serviceable utensils, and ceremonial or religious items.

Contents

Goldsmiths must be skilled in forming metal through filing, soldering, sawing, forging, casting, and polishing metal. The trade has very often included jewellery-making skills, as well as the very similar skills of the silversmith. Traditionally, these skills had been passed along through apprenticeships, however, more recently jewellery arts schools, specializing in teaching goldsmithing and a multitude of skills falling under the jewellery arts umbrella, are available. Many universities and junior colleges also offer goldsmithing, silversmithing, and metal arts fabrication as a part of their fine arts curriculum.

Gold

Gold used as raw material for making jewelry or as means of payment. From the Migration Period, Sweden around 400-549. Ten av guld.jpg
Gold used as raw material for making jewelry or as means of payment. From the Migration Period, Sweden around 400–549.

Compared to other metals, gold is malleable, ductile, rare, and it is the only solid metallic element with a yellow color. It may easily be melted, fused, and cast without the problems of oxides and gas that are problematic with other metals such as bronzes, for example. It is fairly easy to "pressure weld", wherein, similarly to clay, two small pieces may be pounded together to make one larger piece. Gold is classified as a noble metal—because it does not react with most elements. It usually is found in its native form, lasting indefinitely without oxidization and tarnishing.

History

A goldsmith workshop during the mid-seventeenth century Fotothek df tg 0007208 Standebuch ^ Beruf ^ Handwerk ^ Goldschmied.jpg
A goldsmith workshop during the mid-seventeenth century

Gold has been worked by humans in all cultures where the metal is available, either indigenously or imported, and the history of these activities is extensive. Superbly made objects from the ancient cultures of Africa, Asia, Europe, India, North America, Mesoamerica, and South America grace museums and collections throughout the world. Some pieces date back thousands of years and were made using many techniques that still are used by modern goldsmiths. Techniques developed by some of those goldsmiths achieved a skill level that was lost and remained beyond the skills of those who followed, even to modern times. [1] Researchers attempting to uncover the chemical techniques used by ancient artisans have remarked that their findings confirm that "the high level of competence reached by the artists and craftsmen of these ancient periods who produced objects of an artistic quality that could not be bettered in ancient times and has not yet been reached in modern ones." [2] [ dubious ]

In medieval Europe goldsmiths were organized into guilds and usually were one of the most important and wealthiest of the guilds in a city. The guild kept records of members and the marks they used on their products. These records, when they survive, are very useful to historians.[ citation needed ] Goldsmiths often acted as bankers, since they dealt in gold and had sufficient security for the safe storage of valuable items, though they were usually restrained from lending at interest, which was regarded as usury. In the Middle Ages, goldsmithing normally included silversmithing as well, but the brass workers and workers in other base metals normally were members of a separate guild, since the trades were not allowed to overlap. Many jewelers also were goldsmiths.

A Brahmin goldsmith from Goa, 16th century India Codice Casanatense Brahmin Goldsmiths.jpg
A Brahmin goldsmith from Goa, 16th century India
Gold and silver smith in Lucknow, India 1890 Gold and Silver Smith Lucknow India 1890.jpg
Gold and silver smith in Lucknow, India 1890

The Sunar caste is one of the oldest communities in goldsmithing in India, whose superb gold artworks were displayed at The Great Exhibition of 1851 in London. In India, 'Daivadnya Brahmins',viswakarma (Viswabrahmins,Achari cast )'Kshatriya Sunar' are the goldsmith castes.

The printmaking technique of engraving developed among goldsmiths in Germany around 1430, who had long used the technique on their metal pieces. The notable engravers of the fifteenth century were either goldsmiths, such as Master E. S., or the sons of goldsmiths, such as Martin Schongauer and Albrecht Dürer.

Contemporary goldsmithing

Modern goldsmith at work Goldsmith at work DSCN4626.JPG
Modern goldsmith at work

A goldsmith might have a wide array of skills and knowledge at their disposal. Gold, being the most malleable metal of all, offers unique opportunities for the worker. In today's world a wide variety of other metals, especially platinum alloys, also may be used frequently. 24 karat is pure gold and historically, was known as fine gold. [3]

Because it is so soft, however, 24 karat gold is rarely used. It is usually alloyed to make it stronger and to create different colors. Depending on the metals used to create the alloy, the color can change.

This alloyed gold is then stamped with the 725 mark, representing the percentage of gold present in the alloy for commercially used gold. The majority of the jewellery is made with this alloy, while a smaller part uses lower gold-density alloys to keep jewelry cheaper. The gold may be cast into some item then, usually with the lost wax casting process, or it may be used to fabricate the work directly in metal.

In the latter case, the goldsmith will use a variety of tools and machinery, including the rolling mill, the drawplate, and perhaps, swage blocks and other forming tools to make the metal into shapes needed to build the intended piece. Then parts are fabricated through a wide variety of processes and assembled by soldering. It is a testament to the history and evolution of the trade that those skills have reached an extremely high level of attainment and skill over time. A fine goldsmith can and will work to a tolerance approaching that of precision machinery, but largely using only his eyes and hand tools. Quite often the goldsmith's job involves the making of mountings for gemstones, in which case they often are referred to as jewelers.

'Jeweller', however, is a term mostly reserved for a person who deals in jewellery (buys and sells) and not to be confused with a goldsmith, silversmith, gemologist, diamond cutter, and diamond setters. A 'jobbing jeweller' is the term for a jeweller who undertakes a small basic amount of jewellery repair and alteration.

Notable goldsmiths

Historical

17th century goldsmith. Mendel II 095 v.jpg
17th century goldsmith.

Contemporary

See also

Related Research Articles

Jewellery Form of personal adornment

Jewellery or jewelry consists of decorative items worn for personal adornment, such as brooches, rings, necklaces, earrings, pendants, bracelets, and cufflinks. Jewellery may be attached to the body or the clothes. From a western perspective, the term is restricted to durable ornaments, excluding flowers for example. For many centuries metal such as gold used in different carats from 21, 18, 12, 9 or even lower, often combined with gemstones, has been the normal material for jewellery, but other materials such as shells and other plant materials may be used.

Sterling silver Alloy of silver containing 92.5% by mass of silver and 7.5% by mass of other metals, usually copper

Sterling silver is an alloy of silver containing 92.5% by weight of silver and 7.5% by weight of other metals, usually copper. The sterling silver standard has a minimum millesimal fineness of 925.

Metalworking Process of making items from metal

Metalworking is the process of shaping and reshaping metals to create useful objects, parts, assemblies, and large scale structures. As a term it covers a wide and diverse range of processes, skills, and tools for producing objects on every scale: from huge ships, buildings, and bridges down to precise engine parts and delicate jewelry.

Silversmith Craftsperson who makes objects from silver or gold

A silversmith is a metalworker who crafts objects from silver. The terms silversmith and goldsmith are not exactly synonyms as the techniques, training, history, and guilds are or were largely the same but the end product may vary greatly as may the scale of objects created.

A hallmark is an official mark or series of marks struck on items made of metal, mostly to certify the content of noble metals—such as platinum, gold, silver and in some nations, palladium. In a more general sense, the term hallmark can also be used to refer to any distinguishing characteristic.

<i>Mokume-gane</i>

Mokume-gane (木目金) is a Japanese metalworking procedure which produces a mixed-metal laminate with distinctive layered patterns, as well as that laminate itself. Mokume-gane translates closely to "wood grain metal" or "wood eye metal" and describes the way metal takes on the appearance of natural wood grain. Mokume gane fuses several layers of differently coloured precious metals together to form a sandwich of alloys called a "billet." The billet is then manipulated in such a way that a pattern resembling wood grain emerges over its surface. Numerous ways of working the mokume gane create diverse patterns. Once the metal has been rolled into a sheet or bar, several techniques are used to produce a range of effects.

Filigree

Filigree is a form of intricate metalwork used in jewellery and other small forms of metalwork.

Niello

Niello is a black mixture, usually of sulphur, copper, silver, and lead, used as an inlay on engraved or etched metal, especially silver. It is added as a powder or paste, then fired until it melts or at least softens, and flows or is pushed into the engraved lines in the metal. It hardens and blackens when cool, and the niello on the flat surface is polished off to show the filled lines in black, contrasting with the polished metal around it. It may also be used with other metalworking techniques to cover larger areas, as seen in the sky in the diptych illustrated here. The metal where niello is to be placed is often roughened to provide a key. In many cases, especially in objects that have been buried underground, where the niello is now lost, the roughened surface indicates that it was once there.

Metalsmith

A metalsmith or simply smith is a craftsperson fashioning useful items out of various metals. Smithing is one of the oldest metalworking occupations. Shaping metal with a hammer (forging) is the archetypical component of smithing. Often the hammering is done while the metal is hot, having been heated in a forge. Smithing can also involve the other aspects of metalworking, such as refining metals from their ores, casting it into shapes (founding), and filing to shape and size.

Jewellery as an art form originated as an expression of human culture. Body ornamentation, one purpose of jewellery, has been known since at least the Stone Age. The history of jewellery in Ukraine reflects the influence of many cultures and peoples who have occupied the territory in the past and present.

This article refers to the jewelry of the Etruscan civilization and its differences in various eras.

A bench jeweler is an artisan who uses a combination of skills to make and repair jewelry. Some of the more common skills that a bench jeweler might employ include antique restoration, silversmithing, goldsmithing, stonesetting, engraving, fabrication, wax carving, lost-wax casting, electroplating, forging, and polishing.

Black Hills gold jewelry is a type of jewelry manufactured in the Black Hills of South Dakota. It was first created in the 1870s during the Black Hills Gold Rush by a French goldsmith named Henri LeBeau, who is said to have dreamed about the design after passing out from thirst and starvation. Black Hills gold jewelry depicts leaves, grape clusters and vines, and is made with alloys of gold with standard yellow gold as well as green and pink gold. In 1980, the 8th Circuit affirmed an injunction ruling that if a manufacturer was to call its jewelry Black Hills Gold, then it must be made in the Black Hills. The state of South Dakota designated Black Hills gold as the official state jewelry in 1988.

Colored gold

Pure gold is slightly reddish yellow in color, but colored gold in various other colors can be produced.

John Donald is a British jeweller - designer whose work is strongly identified in the 1960s and 1970s in London. Princess Margaret and the Queen Mother purchased works by John Donald in the 1960s, having been introduced to him by Antony Armstrong-Jones, 1st Earl of Snowdon.

Medieval jewelry

The Middle Ages was a period that spanned approximately 1000 years and is normally restricted to Europe and the Byzantine Empire. The material remains we have from that time, including jewelry, can vary greatly depending on the place and time of their creation, especially as Christianity discouraged the burial of jewellery as grave goods, except for royalty and important clerics, who were often buried in their best clothes and wearing jewels. The main material used for jewellery design in antiquity and leading into the Middle Ages was gold. Many different techniques were used to create working surfaces and add decoration to those surfaces to produce the jewellery, including soldering, plating and gilding, repoussé, chasing, inlay, enamelling, filigree and granulation, stamping, striking and casting. Major stylistic phases include barbarian, Byzantine, Carolingian and Ottonian, Viking, and the Late Middle Ages, when Western European styles became relatively similar.

The Goldsmiths’ Company Assay Office in London is the oldest assay office in the United Kingdom. The company has provided hallmarking services since The Goldsmiths Company was founded in the 14th century. The company received its royal charter in 1327 and ranks 5th in order of precedence of the 12 Great Livery Companies of the City of London.

Granulation (jewellery)

Granulation is a jewellery manufacturing technique whereby a surface is covered in spherules or granules of precious metal. The technique is thought to have its origins in Sumer about 5,000 years ago. This technique then spread to southern Europe during the orientalizing period, also through the role of Phoenicians, who had founded colonies in Sardinia, Sicily and Spain, or Near Eastern craftsmen.

Pallion Group Australian precious metal services company

Pallion designs, manufactures, and distributes precious metal products and related services. It is the largest precious metal services group in Australasia. Pallion is the result of the merger of the ABC Bullion and Palloys Group of companies founded in 1972 and 1951 respectively. The group maintains its headquarters in Sydney NSW Australia and is a wholly privately owned group of companies with manufacturing facilities and offices in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth in Australia, Hong Kong (SAR) and mainland China.

Yemenite silversmithing Silvercraft made by the Jews of Yemen

Yemenite silversmithing refers to the work of Jewish silversmiths from Yemen. They were highly acclaimed craftsmen who dominated craft production in precious metals in the southern Arabian peninsula from the 18th through the mid-20th century, a period and region during which Muslims did not engage in this work. These Yemenite silversmiths were noted for their use of fine granulation and filigree, producing such ornaments as women's bracelets, necklaces, finials, etc.

References

  1. American Chemical Society, Ancient technology for metal coatings 2,000 years ago can't be matched even today, ScienceDaily, ScienceDaily, July 24, 2013,
  2. Gabriel Maria Ingo, Giuseppe Guida, Emma Angelini, Gabriella Di Carlo, Alessio Mezzi, Giuseppina Padeletti, Ancient Mercury-Based Plating Methods: Combined Use of Surface Analytical Techniques for the Study of Manufacturing Process and Degradation Phenomena, Accounts of Chemical Research, 2013; 130705111206005 DOI: 10.1021/ar300232e
  3. McQuhae, William (17 December 2008). McQuhae's Practical Technical Instructor (3rd ed.). Lightning Source Incorporated. p. 91. ISBN   978-1-4437-8201-2.
  4. Vinicije B. Lupis, Zlatarska bilježnica obitelji Kalogjera iz Blata na otoku Korčuli (Goldsmith's Book of the Kalogjera Family from Blato on the Island of Korčula) in Peristil : zbornik radova za povijest umjetnosti, Vol. 52, No. 1, translated from Croatian, Institut društvenih znanosti "Ivo Pilar", Područni centar Dubrovnik, 2009.