Jewellery making: DIY

Not that long ago, I posted about understanding the hallmarks on your precious metal jewellery and the possibility of taking up jewellery making classes. I spent a lot of time browsing on the UK Collective Jewellery Forums to understand about jewellery making. It was here that I found useful reference material for those who are just starting out or even for experienced jewellery designers looking for tips on doing something different.

For those who want something unique that you can proudly tell your friends and those who ask you made the piece yourself, here are some great books recommended on the forums and a couple that I think would be useful when I come to start on the path of jewellery making myself:

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Jewellery Making: A Complete Course for Beginners by Jinks McGrath, £9.59 from Amazon UK

Everyone wants to start from the basics and when you’re a complete novice, the beginning. Jewellery Making: A Complete Course for Beginners by Jinks McGrath is as good a book to start off with. This book promises to provide step by step instructions as well as accompanying photos to show you how to master basic techniques in working with precious and semi-precious gemstones, resin, glass, metals and wood and how the techniques create different effects on the finish of your final metal piece.

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Magical Metal Clay Jewellery: Amazingly Simple No-Kiln Techniques for Making Beautiful Jewellery by Sue Heaser, £8.96 from Amazon UK

In my post about jewellery making and hallmarks, one of the materials I talked about was using Art Clay to work your design by hand before putting this in a kiln to be fired and set into the metal of your choice. Sue Heaser is a highly regarded metal clay teacher and Magical Metal Clay Jewellery: Amazingly Simple No-Kiln Techniques for Making Beautiful Jewellery promises to teach you to work with clay using step by step photo-accompanied instructions to try 20 projects from the book and build your confidence into starting a project of your own.

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Silversmithing for Jewelry Makers by Elizabeth Bone, £10.23 from Amazon UK

One of my favourite metals is silver for its simple yet elegant colour and its lower cost compared to white gold, platinum or palladium. While it is a softer metal, it is a commonly used metal for casual jewellery pieces and can be used for more precious pieces as Tiffany & Co can attest to. Silversmithing for Jewelry Makers will show you all you need to know about the different techniques involved in working with silver to make your design on paper come to life.

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Soldering Made Simple by Joe Silvera, £9.09 from Amazon UK

Designing and creating a more complex piece can mean joining more than one piece together. When working with metals, this involves using a butane torch and soldering the pieces together. Soldering Made Simple will provide you with all the information you need to do this. Just because you’ve never done it before, your first piece of jewellery doesn’t have to be a simple pendant or ring with no adornments, or have them done as separate pieces, when this book can guide you to achieving that goal of making your first design easy and simple.

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The Guide to Gemstone Settings: Styles and Techniques by Anastasia Young, £9.60 from Amazon UK

If you’re anything like me, sometimes a lovely piece of simple jewellery made from only silver or gold will suffice. But sometimes you want to add that extra bit of glamour to your piece with a precious or semi-precious stone to give it some character. Having gone through the processes of working with the metal, soldering pieces together, the last thing you’ll most likely need to know is how to set a gemstone to your design. In my post, I talked about how a piece of custom designed jewellery should be about the precision and care taken to ensure where a semi-precious or precious gemstone is used, the setting is the most important aspect. The setting should hold the gemstone perfectly without any leeway to allow the stone to fall out, the precision required means it is how the metalhe gemstone in place without using any additional adhesives. The Guide to Gemstone Settings: Styles and Techniques will explore the types of settings used for different gemstones and how this should be chosen to work with your design.

To understand more about precious metals, the Goldsmiths’ Company Assay Office provides reference material for jewellery designers on the properties of palladium and platinum and how to work with these metals. The leaflets can be found under ‘Miscellaneous’, but you can also refer to the useful information on hallmarking your piece.To any experienced jewellery designers or those interested in jewellery design, are there any other reference books or materials you feel would be invaluable to new jewellery designers?

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