Making jewelry starts as a hobby for many people and quickly turns into a profitable business for others because they learn to master metal techniques for making one-of-a-kind pieces. While it might seem like combining metals will be complicated with a questionable outcome, the truth is that you are one experimental piece away from mastering an ancient form of artistry. To get a better idea of the best way to get started with making metal jewelry, keep reading.
The Best Types of Metal for Jewelry Making
Jewelry Making is One of Our Oldest Artifacts
Human civilization has been chased down by archaeologists around the world, and jewelry is one of the oldest, easiest-to-date pieces of ancient people that has tended to survive because jewelry is usually made of metals. Of course, some of these pieces of metal jewelry tend to be corroded or worn with time due to the other natural materials they can be composed from such as bone, wood or softer minerals. Alternatively, other pieces last for tens of thousands of years due to the metals used to make them. However, like today, the reason that ancient jewelers made their pieces from one type of metal versus another is a different story altogether.
How Ancient Artists Selected Metals for Jewelry
The reason that different stages of human civilization is marked by metals such as the Copper, Bronze or Iron Age is due to the ability to extract or find certain types of metals. While the focus is usually on the types of military weapons or tools that could be composed from these materials, there is always a corresponding set of jewelry that evolves at the same time from the same metal. One type of metal that has always endured as a strictly jewelry type is gold. Since it is very soft, it is unlikely it was used for military or tool purposes.
Gold as the Predominate, Historic Jewelry Metal
Gold has a fascinating appeal to most humans around the world, but it is also known for being unstable and soft throughout time. For this reason, modern jewelers use gold mixed with other metals to make the gold more stable. This is why you will see gold measured by karats, and, with the exception of 24 karat pure gold, this denotes that the gold has been mixed with another metal such as silver. For example, 18 karat gold is mixed with 18 parts gold and six parts silver or copper to make the final piece of jewelry to be 75-percent gold.
Advances in Metal Jewelry Techniques in the Past 100 Years
Over the years, mixing gold with other types of metals became popular, and it was found that different metals added at different amounts such as copper, platinum, aluminium, iron, nickel and zinc can also dramatically change the color of gold. For example, 18 karat pink gold is 75-percent gold, 20-percent copper and five-percent silver. A piece of jewelry that is 18 karat blue-white gold is 75-percent gold and 25-percent iron. Another technique that has been perfected in the recent past is using electricity to electroplate metal jewelry with precious metals like gold. Although it requires special equipment, electroplating jewelry can be done at home.
DIY Chemical Reaction Metal Jewelry Art
Most jewelry makers will heat metal to add to a mold to make their pieces. Cutting metals like copper or soldering iron are also techniques jewelry makers use. Regardless, once the piece has been completed, it can still be altered in several ways. For example, adding chemicals to copper jewelry can add a rainbow effect to the finished piece. There are also ways to add chemicals to iron to make a rust pattern. Finally, to get patina effects on copper, add ammonia, vinegar and sea salt to the finished jewelry piece.
What About Stainless Steel Jewelry Making?
One of the most advanced types of metal jewelry is composed from stainless steel. Unlike gold or silver jewelry, to make something with this type of finish, specialized materials and equipment are required. This means making stainless steel jewelry at home is not impossible, but the startup prices alone might be a deterrent for most metal jewelry makers.
Metal Jewelry Projects for Beginners
When you do not know where to get started with making your first piece of metal jewelry, consider buying a kit. Once you find that the activity is something you have more interest in, you will know which tools or supplies to invest in next. For example, some people are looking for a specific piece, and have no interest in long-term metal jewelry making. For people with a greater interest in metal-smithing jewelry, knowing which types of kits you like will help with buying more equipment in the future.
Basic Tools Found in Jeweler’s Workshop
When kits are no longer holding your interest, the next step is to get more advanced by buying tools that will allow you to create jewelry in time-honored traditions of artistry. Although there will be some additional supplies and tools needed depending on the project, there are at least five things every metal jewelry maker has around their workshop.
- Metal shears
- Jeweler’s saw
- Flush cutter
- Disk punch
- Bench shear
Metal Jewelry Making is Fun and Easy
Although there is a learning curve involved, and your first piece might not be the nicest, getting started with metal jewelry making brings immediate rewards. Within a short period of time, people with a crafting edge find that their designs have come to life. The jewelry can be later given as gifts or sold professionally online. In the beginning, most people that are new to jewelry making start with silver melting and mold-pouring as well as copper soldering.