Silversmith

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Embossed silver sarcophagus of Saint Stanislaus in the Wawel Cathedral, created in the main centers of 17th century European silversmithery - Augsburg and Gdansk Rennen Silver sarcophagus of Saint Stanislaus.jpg
Embossed silver sarcophagus of Saint Stanislaus in the Wawel Cathedral, created in the main centers of 17th century European silversmithery – Augsburg and Gdańsk

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.

Contents

History

Paul Revere with a silver teapot and some of his engraving tools John Singleton Copley - Paul Revere - WGA5216.jpg
Paul Revere with a silver teapot and some of his engraving tools

In the ancient Near East the value of silver to gold being less, allowed a silversmith to produce objects and store these as stock. Ogden states that according to an edict written by Diocletian in 301 A.D., a silversmith was able to charge 75, 100, 150, 200, 250, or 300 denarii for material produce (per Roman pound). At that time, guilds of silversmiths formed to arbitrate disputes, protect its members' welfare and educate the public of the trade. [2]

Silversmiths in medieval Europe and England formed guilds and transmitted their tools and techniques to new generations via the apprentice tradition. Silver working guilds often maintained consistency and upheld standards at the expense of innovation. Beginning in the 17th century, artisans emigrated to America and experienced fewer restrictions. As a result, silver working was one of the trades that helped to inaugurate the technological and industrial history of the United States silver-working shift to industrialization.

Very exquisite and distinctly designed silverware, that goes by the name of Swami Silver, emerged from the stable of watchmaker turned silversmith P Orr and Sons in the South Indian city of Madras (now Chennai) during the British rule in 1875.

The Beta Israel known more widely as the Falasha of Ethiopia were known for their silversmithing skills.

Tools, materials and techniques

Dish made by hand-hammering T&T Hand-hammered dish.jpg
Dish made by hand-hammering

Silversmiths saw or cut specific shapes from sterling and fine silver sheet metal and bar stock, and then use hammers to form the metal over anvils and stakes. Silver is hammered cold (at room temperature). As the metal is hammered, bent, and worked, it 'work-hardens'. Annealing is the heat-treatment used to make the metal soft again. If metal is work-hardened, and not annealed occasionally, the metal will crack and weaken the work.

Silversmiths can use casting techniques to create knobs, handles and feet for the hollowware they are making.

After forming and casting, the various pieces may be assembled by soldering and riveting.

During most of their history, silversmiths used charcoal or coke fired forges, and lung-powered blow-pipes for soldering and annealing. Modern silversmiths commonly use gas burning torches as heat sources. A newer method is laser beam welding.

Silversmiths may also work with copper and brass, especially when making practice pieces, due to those materials having similar working properties and being more affordable than silver.

Band made of silver Silver band.png
Band made of silver

Although jewelers also work in silver and gold, and many of the techniques for working precious metals overlap, the trades of jeweler and Silversmith have distinct histories. Chain-making and gem-setting are common practices of jewelers that are not usually considered aspects of silversmiths.

The tradition of making (iron / plate) armor was interrupted sometime after the 17th century.[ citation needed ] Silversmithing and goldsmithing, by contrast, have an unbroken tradition going back many millennia. The techniques used to make armor today (whether for movies or for historical recreation groups) are an amalgam of silversmith forming techniques and blacksmith iron-handling techniques.

Notable and historical silversmiths

Companies
People

See also

Notes

  1. Garrad & Co. was founded by George Wickes in London in 1722 and is still operating.
  2. Reid & Sons was founded in 1788 in Newcastle and is still operating.

Related Research Articles

Metallurgy Domain of materials science that studies the physical and chemical behavior of metals

Metallurgy is a domain of materials science and engineering that studies the physical and chemical behavior of metallic elements, their inter-metallic compounds, and their mixtures, which are called alloys. Metallurgy encompasses both the science and the technology of metals; that is, the way in which science is applied to the production of metals, and the engineering of metal components used in products for both consumers and manufacturers. Metallurgy is distinct from the craft of metalworking. Metalworking relies on metallurgy in a similar manner to how medicine relies on medical science for technical advancement. A specialist practitioner of metallurgy is known as a metallurgist.

Solder Alloy used to join metal pieces

Solder is a fusible metal alloy used to create a permanent bond between metal workpieces. Solder is melted in order to adhere to and connect the pieces after cooling, which requires that an alloy suitable for use as solder have a lower melting point than the pieces being joined. The solder should also be resistant to oxidative and corrosive effects that would degrade the joint over time. Solder used in making electrical connections also needs to have favorable electrical characteristics.

Forging Metalworking process

Forging is a manufacturing process involving the shaping of metal using localized compressive forces. The blows are delivered with a hammer or a die. Forging is often classified according to the temperature at which it is performed: cold forging, warm forging, or hot forging. For the latter two, the metal is heated, usually in a forge. Forged parts can range in weight from less than a kilogram to hundreds of metric tons. Forging has been done by smiths for millennia; the traditional products were kitchenware, hardware, hand tools, edged weapons, cymbals, and jewellery. Since the Industrial Revolution, forged parts are widely used in mechanisms and machines wherever a component requires high strength; such forgings usually require further processing to achieve an almost finished part. Today, forging is a major worldwide industry.

Heat treating Process of heating something to alter it

Heat treating is a group of industrial, thermal and metalworking processes used to alter the physical, and sometimes chemical, properties of a material. The most common application is metallurgical. Heat treatments are also used in the manufacture of many other materials, such as glass. Heat treatment involves the use of heating or chilling, normally to extreme temperatures, to achieve the desired result such as hardening or softening of a material. Heat treatment techniques include annealing, case hardening, precipitation strengthening, tempering, carburizing, normalizing and quenching. Although the term heat treatment applies only to processes where the heating and cooling are done for the specific purpose of altering properties intentionally, heating and cooling often occur incidentally during other manufacturing processes such as hot forming or welding.

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.

Goldsmith Metalworker who specializes in working with gold and other precious metals

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

<i>Tumbaga</i> non-specific alloy of gold and copper used in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica

Tumbaga is the name for a non-specific alloy of gold and copper given by Spanish Conquistadors to metals composed of these elements found in widespread use in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica in North America and South America.

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.

Pickling is a metal surface treatment used to remove impurities, such as stains, inorganic contaminants, and rust or scale from ferrous metals, copper, precious metals and aluminum alloys. A solution called pickle liquor, which usually contains acid, is used to remove the surface impurities. It is commonly used to descale or clean steel in various steelmaking processes.

This article is a list of terms commonly used in the practice of metalworking – the science, art, industry, and craft of shaping metal.

In metallurgy and materials science, annealing is a heat treatment that alters the physical and sometimes chemical properties of a material to increase its ductility and reduce its hardness, making it more workable. It involves heating a material above its recrystallization temperature, maintaining a suitable temperature for an appropriate amount of time and then cooling.

Firestain is a layer of oxides that is visible on the surface of objects made of metal alloys containing copper when the object is heated, as by a jeweler heating a ring to apply solder during a repair. On copper-containing alloys of gold or of silver, it presents as a red or purple stain. This is because at high temperatures, oxygen mixes with the copper to form cuprous oxide and then cupric oxide, both of which disrupt the bright polished surface of the finished piece. It is sometimes referred to incorrectly as 'Firescale'; 'Firescale' is a flaky deposit that can occur on the surface of non ferrous metals when heated, on ferrous metals this is known as Mill scale

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

Argentium silver is a brand of modern tarnish-resistant silver alloys, containing either 93.5% or 96% silver. Argentium alloys replace some of the copper in the traditional sterling silver alloy with the metalloid germanium. Argentium's patents refer to percentages of zinc and boron present in Argentium silver. Both Argentium alloys exceed the standard required for hallmarking as sterling silver and Argentium silver 960 meets the standard for hallmarking as Britannia silver.

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.

In minting, coining or coinage is the process of manufacturing coins using a kind of stamping which is now generically known in metalworking as "coining". This process is different from cast coinage, and can be classified in hammered coinage or hammering and milled coinage or milling.

Soldering Process of joining metal pieces with heated filler metal

Soldering is a process in which two or more items are joined together by melting and putting a filler metal (solder) into the joint, the filler metal having a lower melting point than the adjoining metal. Unlike welding, soldering does not involve melting the work pieces. In brazing, the work piece metal also does not melt, but the filler metal is one that melts at a higher temperature than in soldering. In the past, nearly all solders contained lead, but environmental and health concerns have increasingly dictated use of lead-free alloys for electronics and plumbing purposes.

Native American jewelry

Native American jewelry refers to items of personal adornment, whether for personal use, sale or as art; examples of which include necklaces, earrings, bracelets, rings and pins, as well as ketohs, wampum, and labrets, made by one of the Indigenous peoples of the United States. Native American jewelry normally reflects the cultural diversity and history of its makers, but tribal groups have often borrowed and copied designs and methods from other, neighboring tribes or nations with which they had trade, and this practice continues today. Native American tribes continue to develop distinct aesthetics rooted in their personal artistic visions and cultural traditions. Artists may create jewelry for adornment, ceremonies, and display, or for sale or trade. Lois Sherr Dubin writes, "[i]n the absence of written languages, adornment became an important element of Indian communication, conveying many levels of information." Later, jewelry and personal adornment "...signaled resistance to assimilation. It remains a major statement of tribal and individual identity."

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.

Catherine "Casty" Cobb was a British jeweler and silversmith, she was from an established Art and Crafts family.

References

  1. Marcin Latka. "Silver sarcophagus of Saint Stanislaus". artinpl. Retrieved 3 August 2019.
  2. Jack Ogden (1992). Ancient Jewelry. University of California Press. Retrieved 10 April 2012.
  3. Brain, Charles. "Pickling Notes". The Ganoksin Project. Retrieved 15 June 2013.