Exquisite Jeweled Art by Larry Seiger
Jewel Precision

I've acquired a lot of dedicated fans over the years for my work. One of them, an appraiser who works for one of my wholesale clients, has seen a lot of my jewelry over the years. She once told me that she can always spot my work because of the attention to detail that I pay to my work. "Most people never look at a piece of jewelry under a 100 power microscope, but I do and I see a lot of things that jewelers hope go unnoticed, like how the metal is polished under a gemstone."  You normally can't see directly through a properly cut gemstone viewed directly from the front, so you can't see what is directly behind it. A major part of setting a gemstone is sculpting the supporting metal in reverse to accept and support the gemstone. The tools that jewelers use to carve the metal away leave a very raw, bumpy surface. To a jeweler whose priority it is to sell a piece of jewelry at the lowest price (or to maximize profit) will leave this surface rough, but professionals like my appraiser friend can tell. In a recent pendant I made, I took pictures of the setting so you could easily see this normally hidden detail. In the top right image I've carved away a seat for the stone to sit in. I've already gone one step above and sanded the biggest gouges away, a step many jewelers would have skipped. Then I go further by polishing this strip of palladium that goes under the entire diameter of the stone. The metal is reflective enough that you can see my hand as I take the photo. Now, any light that goes through or around the stone is reflected back into the stone and to the viewer, making for an even more brilliant and scintillating gem!


Call me a goldsmith. Call me a jeweler. Just call me!

So you might be wondering, “What exactly is the difference between a goldsmith and a jeweler?”

The term “jeweler” is very broad and incorporates anyone who works with jewels. It's not unusual for a jewelry appraiser, salesperson or a jewelry store owner to call themselves a jeweler. The bar is pretty low. As long as you work with jewelry, it's appropriate to call yourself a jeweler.

“Goldsmith” on the other hand is a very specific moniker.

The root of the word here is “smith”. A smith is someone who creates their craft with a hammer. It may surprise you to know that the difference between a silversmith and a goldsmith isn't the material they use, but the size of the hammers!

Typically a goldsmith uses the smallest hammers, everything from tiny riveting hammers with heads less than 1 ½ inches long to hammers with heads measuring 3 ½ inches. Silversmith hammers usually start around 2 ¾ inches and up.

Blacksmiths use the largest hammers, though even I have a 5 pound hammer that I use to forge ingots.

I have a collection of both goldsmith and silversmithing hammers. Most of my work is small. It typically fits in the palm of your hand, but even a belt buckle needs a pretty large hammer if you want to move the metal into a basic shape.

There are many other tools that one can use to create beautiful jewelry: chisels, pliers, saws, drills, grinding tools and even computers, but a bench jeweler who can't use hammers to make their jewelry can't properly call themselves a goldsmith.

So, the next time you're in downtown Apex and want a hammer “tour”, drop into Virtuoso Jewels. After the Tool School is over, you can browse the jewelry made with those hammers.