The Basics of Jewelry Making - Part 1

I'm often asked about how to get started in jewelry making, so I've decided to put together a series of posts that might be helpful to anyone who has every been curious about metalsmithing and felt that it was beyond their current skill set. It's not! We'll start here with the basic, relatively inexpensive materials you'll need to get started.

Most people think that soldering takes years of training. Nothing could be further from the truth. All you really need to get your start in the exciting world of metalsmithing is a beginning jewelry workshop and a few basic tools that I will list out below. You can get everything you need for less than $200. While it might take you years to master the basic metal working techniques and develop your own unique style, with the basics you can be making simple fabricated jewelry right away. And once you learn those basics, you can refine your skill by taking classes or working on projects from any of the many jewelry how-to books found in most big bookstores.

We’ll start with a little guide to beginning soldering—a list of all the most basic supplies that you will need to start experimenting with metalsmithing. I have made up a list from my handy Rio Grande catalog, complete with different choice options, stock numbers, and prices. You can browse Rio’s selection of tools and material at, or you can order similar items from any other jewelry supply company with a little bit of research on your own. A lot of this equipment is fairly standard and most companies will carry some version of the items below.

What do you will need:

1. Butane micro-torch (#500-230) $65.00

2. Soldering pad (choose one of these three):

-soldering pad 6"X6" (#502-064) $8.75

-soldering pad 6"X12" (#502-074) $13.25

-soldering pad 12"X12" (#502-075) $23.25

3. Copper tongs (for pickle pot) (#501-017) $7.75

4. Soldering pick (package of 3) (#503-019) $11.95

5. Soldering flux (flouride free) (#504-089) $15.25

6. Pickle (#501-0233) $11.25

7. Tweezers (#115-052) $4.00

8. Easy solder (10"x 2" sheet) (#101-200) market price

9. Medium solder (10"x 2" sheet) (#101-701) market price

10. Hard solder (10"x 2" sheet) (#101-702) market price

GRAND TOTAL: about $160.45

In addition, you will need to buy a small, inexpensive crock-pot to use as a pickle pot. Find one with an on/off switch built in. A lot of them are just plug in or unplug and you don't want that if you can help it. You can get the crock-pot for about $15.00. 

This short list of materials is really all you'll need to hit the ground running. In future posts, I'll talk more about getting started, staying safe, and honing your skills.

(originally posted March 2015)