Silversmiths combine art and metalworking skills to craft items out of silver. They design and produce blueprints for manufacturing items such as decorative vessels and jewelry; repair or restore damaged silverware; and perform appraisals to determine the market value of special or antique silver products. Aspiring silversmiths must pursue artistic and technical training before joining the trade.
Prospective silversmiths can enter the profession by completing certificate programs in silversmithing or jewelry design and production. These courses are typically offered by trade schools and community colleges. Students learn metalworking techniques such as fabricating, custom design and engraving. Some metalworking companies offer apprenticeship programs in silversmithing. Apprentices undergo a period of on-the-job training, learning the trade from veteran artisans.
Learn the Skills
Silversmiths are imaginative individuals with an artistic flair and strong visualization and drawing skills. When a client gives a general description of a flower vase he wants manufactured, for example, the silversmith uses these qualities to develop a visual image of the vase and sketch the actual design on paper. Practical skills and good eye-hand coordination are important, because these craftsmen must select and use the right tools for certain tasks. To hammer or beat metal into a certain shape, silversmiths require physical stamina.
Build a Portfolio
A portfolio enables employers to evaluate a job-seeking silversmith’s creative and artistic abilities. Compile a portfolio that includes photos of your best product designs. Join the Society of American Blacksmiths to gain access to industry events, where you can network with potential employers and possibly present your portfolio. Members also have access to a career center, where they can post resumes and get spotted by employers.
Qualified silversmiths can find jobs at design studios, metal shops, art galleries, jewelry stores, and companies that manufacture kitchenware, trophies and other silver products. With vast industry experience and starting capital, some silversmiths venture into self-employment by establishing their own shops. Such artisans must also have strong business awareness and product marketing and promotion skills to thrive. According to the job site Indeed, silversmiths earned an average annual salary of $38,000 in 2014.