If you’ve ever wondered how to start making jewelry with sterling silver but find it overwhelming, then this list of resources was made just for you. I’ve broken down smithing to the most basic elements, all at very low costs. I know it can be hard to believe, but we all start small. We all start with cheap tools. We all begin with the basics. Here are FOUR basics to help you start metalsmithing!
The Complete Metalsmith by Tim McCreight is actually the textbook in formal education for jewelry. Whether college, university, or a concentrated jewelry school, this textbook will most certainly be on the list of required learning materials. The original Student Edition was published in 1982 but the Professional Edition was more recently revised in 2005 with twice as many pages and color drawings. For anyone on a budget, digital downloads are available at just a fraction of the cost.
Rio Grande is an amazing supplier for all jewelry needs, however, to have an account with them you will first need a business license. If you’re not there yet, don’t worry! There are other suppliers available to you. You do not need an account, though, to utilize their YouTube channel… which is literally packed full of information videos. It costs nothing to subscribe.
What if you’re just getting in to jewelry and you don’t have a business license yet? Or maybe this is only a hobby? While you will need a business license for places like Rio Grande, Otto Frei, or Stuller you don’t need a license to purchase from Seattle Findings, SJ Jewelry Supply, or Sante Fe Jewelers Supply. All of the companies mentioned are based in the United States as are their metals. You will always get better pricing at larger companies that require a license to get wholesale but many of the smaller companies try to remain competitive and are usually small family-owned businesses themselves.
4. FINDING GEMSTONE VENDORS
One of the questions I get asked most frequently is, “Where do you get your gemstones?” While my specific suppliers are a closely guarded trade secret, I will tell you exactly how to cultivate your own relationships with your own gemstone sellers. This is exactly how I found mine… Gem Shows. How do you find a Gem Show? It’s literally just a Google search away. Type in “gem shows near me” or “gem shows in (your city or nearest city)”. Gem and mineral shows are generally in cities so you may need to plan a trip but there are major benefits should you decided to do so. Please also note that many vendors at these shows will require you have a business license but there is almost always an expo for the general public and/or vendors that sell retail. By attending a local gem show you will get considerably better pricing than online, be able to cherry pick the best specimens, learn about where your supplies come from, meet the vendors personally, and even establish long-term relationships in which you can purchase directly from the supplier year-round. Plus, if you do happen to have your business license… the whole trip is a tax write off! I promise if you make it to a gem show, you won’t walk away empty-handed.