what does a goldsmith do

What Does a Goldsmith Do?

what does a goldsmith do

A goldsmith is a craftsman who works with gold, silver, platinum, gemstones, and other precious metals. Historically, goldsmiths made jewelry, silverware, utensils, platters, and ceremonial items for religious events. Nowadays, they are mainly focused on jewelry making.

Goldsmiths take the metal in its pure form and perform the necessary processes to turn it into a piece of jewelry. They must be good at metal filing, annealing, beating, soldering, sanding, polishing and stone setting. These goldsmith skills are traditionally passed along from a qualified practitioner to an apprentice in arts schools and universities.

Goldsmiths must be well trained in using specialized tools and lathes for casting, bending, cutting, spinning, grinding, and smoothing out gold jewelry. Very good goldsmiths can also repair and remodel jewelry. They may be self-employed or work for a company.


Gold is the most malleable metal of all, offering many opportunities for the craftsman. Also, it is the only element with a yellow color. It is easily melted, fused, and cast. Similarly to clay or dough, you can take two or more pieces of gold and merge them together, creating a larger piece. Gold falls in the category of noble metals, alongside silver and platinum, which means it doesn’t react with most elements and is resistant to oxidation and corrosion. It is found in raw form in nature.


The history of goldsmithing goes back thousands of years. Ancient cultures from all continents made superb objects from gold using either indigenous or imported metal. The mother of gold metallurgy is considered the Copper Age Varna culture in Bulgaria. The main artefact from that age is the Varna Necropolis that contains golden jewelry with an estimated age of 6,000 years. This is the oldest womens jewelry ever discovered.

In medieval times, goldsmith guilds were one of the most important and wealthiest guilds in a European city. They acted pretty much like banks since they traded in gold and had a high level of security. However, they were not allowed to lend at interest. Silversmiths were part of goldsmith guilds too, while workers with brass and other base metals were organized in separate guilds.

Contemporary goldsmithing

Since gold is the most malleable metal, goldsmiths can work and design it in a variety of ways. Nowadays, many other metals, like platinum alloys, are used in goldsmithing. While it is the purest gold, 24 karat gold is soft, this is why it is used rarely. Most of the time, the yellow metal is mixed with another metal to strengthen it and change its color.

The goldsmith has access to a multitude of modern equipment for working the precious metal. A fine goldsmith will also have skills in treating the metal with similar precision as modern machinery, using only their sharp eye and hand tools. If the goldsmiths sell their gold art pieces, they may be considered jewelers. Jewelers are specialized in making, buying, selling, and repairing jewelry. They usually buy pre-made components and put them together in artistic ways then sell them as handmade jewelry.

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