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Jewelry anyone???


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I am unsure where to put this topic, so i put it in the most "artistic" area i knew of.... Has anybody tried jewelry making??? Either from copper, brass, bronze, coins, silver, gold, platinum, etc? I guess this is a form if metal working..... How did you do it; hot work or cold? Where did you obtain the material? Has anyone done inlaying on jewelry? Ever dabbled with setting precious stone in your work? What about decorative edging?.

I ask so much because lately I've been thinking about do such as a hobby more so than heavy anything.... I have grown a fondness for delicate work as such since i got into the aviation business for a short time. I have made rings for a few ladies 5-6 years ago using silver coins (yes, i understand the "defacing" of government property or the destruction of coinage)... I'm looking into trying my hand at said artistic work. Any and all info is welcome and appreciated.


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I have made quite an array of earrings and pendants from salvaged copper and brass with some fine silver or sterling accents. Fun work and forging was a primary technique. Hard solder or fusion welding and riveting to assemble. Earrings make a good project because the small size allows for quick completion, accelerating the learning process. The small scale helps to keep materials costs low also. I thought of each pair as mini-sculptures. Pendants are even easier as they can be one of a kind... the pairing of earrings can be challenging at times. You don't need a forge for this type of work... but maybe a few torches.

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I've done a bunch of hot forged silver back when it was $5 an oz. Mainly made early medieval reproductions. A one firebrick forge was quite handy as it was harder to drop the workpiece down through the charcoal stack like when I used a charcoal fueled forge at SCA events.

I've also used my forge to melt metals for casting---silver---fine and sterling, copper brass, bronze, etc.

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New here, but i have about 10 years of off and on silver, brass, copper and nickel jewelry experience as a hobby, as well as small metal sculpture and mechanical projects. I dont think i have ever hot forged silver, due to the small scale of the projects it is challenging to keep enough heat in the piece long enough to whack it more than once or twice, though cold hammering and texturing are fairly commonplace. I have had occasion to fuse wire together, otherwise my go to is soldering, with some limited mechanical fittings or wire wrapping.

There is a plethora of literature on the subject available in book stores and online as well.

Not being a manufacturer i get most of my tools and materials from the gem faire that comes through Santa Barbara, CA about 4 times a year, otherwise i have gotten the rest off of amazon.

Did you have a particular form of inlay in mind? When i had access to an electric kiln in school i did some glass enamel inlay, you can also mix just about any type of pigment (colored chalk, paint pigment, i have used spices as well) with an epoxy and use that as your inlay. be sure to mind gravity on things like rings, and bear in mind that the color MAY change from dry powder to 'wet' in the epoxy suspension. I used turmeric for an orangy yellow once that ended up being more on the red side than i had anticipated.

I limit myself to semi-precious stones with silver work as they are cheaper and because i dont have access to or experience working with anything more precious than silver, and it would be kind of silly to have $$$ worth of stone in $ worth of metal.

There is no limit to what you can do with decorative edging and design with a set of files, a jewelers saw or a ball peen and some punches and dies.

I have done the majority of my work using just a ronson tech torch, actually this is my second one, overfilled the first and it started leaking :blink:
I picked up a propane torch and tank from lowes for casting sterling, needed more heat and a larger tank. Also bought a delft clay casting kit online.
and i just got a MAPP tank for the torch head a few days ago to see if that wont goose up fusing Mokume Gane.

The rest of the equipment is fairly simple, a spread of pliers (round, flat, chain, wire cutters), pack of needle files, jewelers saw frame and a handful of blades, a bench pin to work on, flux/pickle/different temp's of solder, ball peen hammer and something solid to whack on, various grades of very fine sandpaper (220, 320, 400, finer to polish) would be a solid starter kit.

You will be well served by a dremel or similar rotary tool (with or without foot pedal) to use for buffing, sanding, deburring, anything that needs to be spun quickly in order to be effective. You can even use that instead of a drill/press, though i am a big fan of my drill press now that i have one.

Bigfoot is correct, pairing earings can be pretty challenging, especially if you are trying to match non-deliberately cut stones!

Let me know if you have any more specific questions and ill see if i cant direct you to a solution :)

this is some of the stuff i put together this year for gifts, the heart casting was what prompted the propane equipment.
Bracelet: sterling and green onyx
Circular necklace: sterling and iolite
Draped necklace: sterling and colored pua shell (i believe thats the name)
Delft clay casting just after opening the mold
Kite shaped opal Roman (gypsy) set in cast sterling

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Thanks for all the info everybody but I'm still curious as to where i am able to purchase gold inlay wire... I was also informed there is fine gold wire lined inside an airbag. Can anyone validate this information for me? Thank you all.


That may be the reason they are so darned expensive to replace once deployed!

The Jr. college in Paris, TX is the best school for learning to make jewelry here in the States. Nice little town and James Alcorn, member here on IFI, lives in Paris and runs his studio in the historical down town area.
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chinobi lovely work! i have done some silver work, when my children were small and i only could work in the kitchen, and like you, i liked setting semi prescious stones - i think they are the most beautiful. i just had my tiny but perfect jewellers anvil, plumbers torch, some little files and pliers, different grade papers, different heat hard solders and lots of gorgeous stones :) i did a couple of things with gold and silver mixed and i wish i had photos becasue the colors together i always Love to see, although hallmarking is not possible when you do that ( i believe, although i never cared ) and thats im sure the main reason it is not popular... i think we call the stone in your heart pendant fire opal here - its a fabulous stone, the pendant is lovely!! i would agree that the equipment you need is minimal and fairly inexpensive - i dont know about inlaying hillbilly, but i would get myself a nice book :)

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Thank you Beth! You are too kind :)

The vendor for the opal put a little card in with the stones that says 'Boulder, Koroit, Yowah & Winton opal, from Queensland Austrailia' and just generally referred to them as 'boulder'. I was originally looking for a really intense blue/green opal but no dice. They were saying that opals with red reflections in them were particularly prized, but either thats a load (doubtful, because they had some really nice ones for like $25,000) or they just weren't paying attention because that one will show red depending on the angle, and it was $25 :D

Hillbilly, i would imagine that there are web forums for jewelers much like IFI is for smithing, maybe they can sniff out some good material sources in your area. otherwise library card/amazon.com and youtube :)
PS if you end up junkyard diving for airbags please exercise extreme caution if they are undeployed, it is, after all, an explosive.

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I made this medallion some years ago for a friend to give to his girlfriend. Made from QSOs (quarter shaped objects), it was my first attempt at mokume-gane and I didn't even use a forge. I used a rose bud torch and held the 6 QSOs with Channel Lock type pliers. The pattern was just random grooving and the Yin-Yang design was applied by scratching with marking scribe. I know it was low tech but the new owner liked it :)


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There are more schools than just the one in Paris, TX that teach jewelry making and do it very well. For example the Revere Academy of Jewelry Arts in San Francisco, the William Holland School of Lapidary Art in Young Harris, GA and the Terri McCarthy Studio in Grafton, WI and last but not least of all they it just the do it on your own school. That is what I've been doing but I have asked folk who have been to the above mentioned schools for advice. Since you are already a metalsmith most of it you can figure out on your own. Silver, both fine and sterling, solder up nicely with silver solder and with that there are three basic grades, hard, medium and easy. I only use two of them since there only seems to be about a 150F degrees melting/flow temperature between them so why bother with the medium, I ain't that good yet with my torch control. You have to anneal it if you do cold forging like I do, I don't do hot forging of something as expensive as silver since I don't want it to fall apart on me in the fire. I do a lot of copper but there I like cold connections, rivets and tabs. Gold it way to expensive for this poor boy. As to the other metals most are out of my reach too. So it's copper, brass and left over bronze from my casting days.

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There is quite a bit of very nice opal in Oregon. Dad was a rockhound and that was his go to for opal.

Beautiful non ferret medallions. Have you considered enameling? I got to give enameling a first go in late June and not only was it a LOT of fun the results were surprisingly good for a beginner.

Oh yeah, I know there are folk here who know ferrets from non-ferrets but I'll clear up the wonderment amongst the rest. Ferret = ferrous, blacksmiths are THE classic ferrets.

Frosty The Lucky.

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Thanks Frosty :)

I havnt done enameling since high school but I did enjoy it then, dont have the materials to do it at home. Do you remember what 'style' you did?
I have done Champleve(enamel in negative space/depressions) and Cloisonne(enamel bound by bezel wire shapes on a flat backing), and i suppose when I overcooked the first Cloissonne I created an accidental Limoges(unbounded enamel) with a small crater of 99.9 fine instead of the bezel wire dividers B)

And to avoid a double post ill just tack this on here.

I was thinking about the original question of hot forging jewelry, particularly silver. I dont think hot forging really applies, because by the time you remove the part from the heat and get it to the anvil and strike with the hammer it is already at black heat and you end up hurrying the placement and swing which just gets sloppy. So more cold forged and frequently annealed seems like the way to go.

That thought process lead me to incorporate a 'hot' twist element into a piece I am presently designing and when I did a constructability test on a piece of copper wire (16 gauge I think, forgot to pull the package out of the trash and verify) I just kept at it and let it take me on a little trip down 'why didnt I go to bed 2 hours ago lane'.

I tried to avoid using normal techniques for metalwork of this size, instead substituting actual blacksmithing methods whenever I could.

This is the result, it sits on a 1 square inch grid rotary cutter mat

4" square steel jewelers anvil
harbor freight 4" bench vice w/ anvil
HF 3lb cross pein w/ hand polished face
rawhide mallet
round and flat pliers
regular (like new, so very sharp) wood chisel
spring resist tweezers
wooden bench pin

Brief rundown on the process (frequently annealed during and between steps, left out for brevity)
annealed my wire (about 2" long) and hammered it into a square cross section
heated and twisted the middle(ish) of the squared wire (about 1/2" long twist)
flattened both ends of the twist into loosely consistent sheet dimensions
bent piece into that loosely S shaped curve
drew out lower end of S curve into longer narrower but still flat sheet
cut another 3" piece of wire and squared along the full length
twisted most of the new square, left about 3/8" on either side for holding purposes
drew out as much of a taper as i could on one side, ended up about 1", rhombus, and cold shut city towards the tip
bent an eye loop in the tapered end, leaving as much of the taper running parallel to the main body
wrapped the flat upper end of the S curve around the doubled up part at the base of the eye loop and wrapped the remaining taper around that in the opposite direction
wrapped and crimped lower S curve around shaft and bent ripple in loose end
nearly shot the piece across the room splitting that tongue with a pretty solid strike from the 3lb to the chisel :D and cut a groove about 1/8" deep into my bench pin backing (so glad i didnt use either anvil for that part)
locked up the chisel pointed up in the vice a-la hardy chisel and trimmed off the bottom of the shaft
torched the bottom until i melted a good bead
pickled until clean

so prooved my design concept feasability, but i dont know how well I will be able to implement it, because its still way too big <_<

the other alternative would be to start from a thin strip of sheet metal, probably 22 gauge and 1/8" thick and square up a bit in the middle to do the twist on, rather than going from wire to sheet.

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Many years ago I used to do models of sculptures and gates out of cast bronze and copper for clients and it turns out that was all some of them wanted. They seemed to think they were good enough to be works of art in and of themselves so I dabbled in some jewelery back then too but not an awful lot of it. I did cast a lot of silver for some jewelers that didn't want to go to the expense of doing it on there own since I could melt up to twenty pounds of silver at a time to pour big quantities of rings and bracelets. Making jewelry can be great fun and a creative outlet and is easier for folk to tote around that a large piece of iron work.

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I found a terrific website. Its exactly what I'm looking for and more! Its a jewelers' depot.... The sell solder, round wire, half round wire, square wire, sheet, bar, foil, gold, silver, platinum, tooling.... www.riogrand.com I'll be ordering about ten feet of 18k gold wire in the morning and possibly some silver sheet..... Now for another question; how do you work platinum??? This website has crucibles for casting under the platinum section which raises my curiosity. Can it be cold worked? Obviously in an annealed state, but.... Thinkin of buying some to play with.


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Platinum?! WOW! you like to play with the expensive stuff don't you? I feel very fortunate to afford a few dollars worth of silver to work with. Platinum is some $1,544 an ounce, gold is $1,670 an ounce, palladium is only $651an ounce and silver is at $30 an ounce. Yes, platinum can be worked cold. Silver is my best best to work with a noble metal outside of copper so it's the one I know best and it is so much more fun than copper.
Did you win the lottery or just some old moneyed dude? :lol:

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Nice work! I like that stand too. Are those rubies or garnets? Nice job on the engraving also, you're just plain and simply better than good you're excellent!!! :blink:
Hi Bentiron 1946 Thank you for the complements mate appreciate ,
Just garnets , rubys are a bit dear for an old rail spike i think .
Made this a while ago a little Thors hammer not much over a inch in size used my scrap sterling silver up ,
carved a fire brick out and poured it in then cleaned it up .
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Awesome Thor's hammer Chris! Very unique design!

I make jewelry as well; here are a few Thor's hammer necklaces I’ve
made and some other examples of my work.
Hi Waldgiest thank you ,
you make some magic hammers there ,and luv the bearded axe too
did you braid the chain too ,fantastic thanks for shareing
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