The Beginner’s Guide to Gold Jewellery Making & Design

By Jemima Armfield

The Beginner’s Guide to Gold Jewellery Making & Design

Most aspiring jewellers think that working with gold is an honour that must be earned through many years of experience designing and making jewellery. The truth, however, is a little more enticing. Making your own jewellery using gold might come with higher risks due to the cost of the metal involved, but it’s actually no more difficult to work with than non-precious metals such as copper.

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In this comprehensive guide to gold jewellery making and design, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about working with this precious metal, from understanding the basics to designing and selling your jewellery.

How is gold made into jewellery?

As with every industry, technology has taken over the gold jewellery market, with gold casing and die striking used to create gold jewellery for the mass market. But there’s still a growing demand for gold jewellery that’s made by hand.

If you want to create handmade gold jewellery, then you may need to invest in a few new tools, but the good news is that the process is very similar to making jewellery from other metals.

Those new tools are likely to include a larger torch, a liquid flux and a charcoal block to put the gold piece on. You may also need a different solder, but the soldering process is very similar and potentially even a little easier than silver.

Handmade gold jewellery designs can include everything from simple, hand-assembled pendants and bracelets to intricate pieces that can take days to finish.

What makes them all so special is the fact that every piece is unique and is made using only the jeweller’s hands and a few very simple tools.

What type of gold can be used to make jewellery?

The purity of gold is measured in carats, with purity levels ranging from 24-carat (ct) gold down to 9ct gold.

24ct gold, which is 99.9%+ pure, is soft, which makes it very difficult to work with. For that reason, gold is mixed with other types of metal to create an alloy that is stronger and more workable. It is commonly mixed with silver, copper, zinc, palladium and nickel, with the amount of those other metals used determining the carat and colour of the end product.

These are the most common purities of gold jewellery in the UK:

● 22-carat gold is 92% pure

● 18-carat gold is 75% pure

● 14-carat gold is 58.5% pure

● 9-carat gold is 37.5% pure

Another very important factor to consider is the colour of the gold jewellery you want to make. Most of us immediately think of the yellow gold colour, which is the closest colour to pure gold, but there are other options available to suit your gold jewellery designs.

● Yellow Gold

Yellow gold is alloyed with silver and copper, and the higher the gold content, the richer and more vivid the yellow hue is. Yellow gold is universally popular and is used to make rings, earrings, necklaces, bracelets and more.

● White Gold

White gold is an alloy that contains either platinum, palladium or nickel and is sometimes plated with rhodium to give it a harder, more polished surface. It’s a relatively modern development and wasn’t commercially available until 1912. It has a similar price to yellow gold and is great for rings, necklaces and bracelets.

● Rose Gold

Like yellow gold, rose gold is also alloyed with copper and silver. The difference is that the level of copper is increased in the alloy to create that distinctive pink tint. The more copper that’s used, the redder the jewellery will be. Rose gold is most commonly used to create rings and bracelets.

How to store gold jewellery

If you’re going to create your own gold jewellery, you must know how to store them to keep your pieces looking their best. You should:

● Always use a jewellery box - Jewellery boxes with multiple slots or shelves work best.

● Wrap each piece in a soft cloth - If you don’t have a jewellery box then use soft cloths to wrap each piece individually and keep them in an airtight box or ziplock bag to preserve their shine.

● Store pieces separately - Never store uncovered jewellery loosely in the same bag or box as it can easily become entangled and scratched.

How to sell gold jewellery in the UK

If you want to sell the jewellery that you make in the UK, then there are three important rules that you must follow.

1. It must meet minimum purity standards

If the jewellery you make and sell is described as 9ct gold or 18ct gold, then it must include at least that amount of pure gold in the alloy. The minimum quantity of gold in items described as 9ct gold is 375 parts per thousand, while 18ct gold must have 750 parts per thousand.

2. Items weighing over 1g must be hallmarked

In the UK, any gold pieces that you sell over 1g must be hallmarked by one of the four UK Assay Offices. That will show that the jewellery is of the required purity. Ideally, you should do this as early on in the process as you can, to prevent any damage to the final piece.

3. Dealers’ Notice

If you sell gold jewellery on a website or through platforms such as Etsy or at a craft fair, then you need to display a Dealer’s Notice. That explains what the hallmark means and can be obtained from one of the Assay Offices.

Gold jewellery design ideas

If you’re ready to start designing and making your own gold jewellery, then you may want a few design ideas for inspiration. Here are 27 independent jewellery designers that you can follow to get you started.

You can also create Pinterest boards, design digital mood boards or use a jewellery design app. Alternatively, you can collate images, colours and textures from nature, architecture, fashion and travel in a sketchbook and use that as inspiration for your gold jewellery designs.

Selling strategies for your gold jewellery business

Once you have turned your design ideas into beautiful pieces of gold jewellery, the next step is to sell them. Thanks to the internet, it’s now much easier to set up your own jewellery store. While craft fairs certainly have their place, creating your own store on Shopify or selling through an established online marketplace such as Etsy gives you access to millions of potential customers 24 hours a day.

If you’re going to sell online, then good quality photographs of your designs are essential. Photos shot on a clean background and taken from different angles should be provided to highlight the details of the piece. Here are a few tips to help. You should also provide detailed and helpful product descriptions that include information about things like sizing, purity and the materials used.

If you prefer to sell offline or want to sell offline and online at the same time, then artists markets are another option available to you. They can be a great way to gain exposure, validate an idea and get direct feedback from customers.

Take your first steps in jewellery design

Want to learn more about the fascinating world of jewellery and gemstones? At Learning With Experts, we have the world’s first online foundation course in jewellery, which is the perfect first step.

You’ll receive lifetime access to our professionally filmed courses along with regular assignments, personalised tuition from our experts and the opportunity to share your ideas within an interactive classroom of up to 20 classmates.

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Jewellery Foundation taught by Joanna Hardy

Learn how to appreciate and value fine jewellery with jewel, gem and antique specialist Joanna Hardy.

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Jemima Armfield

Digital marketing manager, content creator and head of tutor relations, I'm here to make sure everyone is getting the support they need throughout their studies at Learning with Experts.

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