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Embossed silver sarcophagus of Saint Stanislaus in the Wawel Cathedral, created in the main centers of 17th-century European silversmithery – Augsburg and Gdańsk[1]

A silversmith is a metalworker who crafts objects from silver. The terms silversmith and goldsmith are not exact synonyms, as the techniques, training, history, and guilds are (or were, at least) largely the same but differed in that the end product may vary greatly (as may the scale of objects created).


Paul Revere with a silver teapot and some of his engraving tools

In the ancient Near East (as holds true today), the value of silver was lower than the value of gold, allowing a silversmith to produce objects and store these as stock. Historian Jack Ogden states that, according to an edict written by Diocletian in 301 A.D., a silversmith was able to charge 75, 100, 150, 200, 250, or 300 denarii for material produce (per Roman pound). At that time, guilds of silversmiths formed to arbitrate disputes, protect its members' welfare, and educate the public of the trade.[2]

Silversmiths in medieval Europe and England formed guilds and transmitted their tools and techniques to new generations via the apprentice tradition. Silverworking guilds often maintained consistency and upheld standards at the expense of innovation. Beginning in the 17th century, artisans emigrated to America and experienced fewer restrictions. As a result, silverworking was one of the trades that helped to inaugurate the technological and industrial history of the United States silverworking shift to industrialization.

Very exquisite and distinctly designed silverware, especially the artisanal craft that goes by the name of Swami Silver, emerged from the stable of watchmaker-turned-silversmith P.Orr and Sons in the South Indian city of Madras (now Chennai) during the British rule in 1875.``

Tools, materials and techniques

Dish made by hand-hammering

Silversmiths saw or cut specific shapes from sterling and fine silver sheet metal and bar stock; they then use hammers to form the metal over anvils and stakes. Silver is hammered cold (at room temperature). As the metal is hammered, bent, and worked, it 'work-hardens'. Annealing is the heat-treatment used to make the metal soft again. If metal is work-hardened, and not annealed occasionally, the metal will crack and weaken the work.

Silversmiths can use casting techniques to create knobs, handles and feet for the hollowware they are making.

After forming and casting, the various pieces may be assembled by soldering and riveting.

During most of their history, silversmiths used charcoal or coke fired forges, and lung-powered blow-pipes for soldering and annealing. Modern silversmiths commonly use gas burning torches as heat sources. A newer method is laser beam welding.

Silversmiths may also work with copper and brass, especially when making practice pieces, due to those materials having similar working properties and being more affordable than silver.

Band made of silver

Notable and historical silversmiths

Main page: Category:Silversmiths


See also


  1. ^ Garrad & Co. was founded by George Wickes in London in 1722 and is still operating.
  2. ^ Reid & Sons was founded in 1788 in Newcastle and is still operating.


  1. ^ Marcin Latka. "Silver sarcophagus of Saint Stanislaus". artinpl. Retrieved 3 August 2019.
  2. ^ Ogden, Jack (1992). Ancient Jewellery. University of California Press. Retrieved 2 July 2023 – via Google Books.
  3. ^ Brain, Charles. "Pickling Notes". The Ganoksin Project. Retrieved 15 June 2013.
  4. ^ Morgan, Major H. Sandford (17 October 1931). "Secrets in Silver – An Ancient Handicraft". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 9 December 2021.
  5. ^ "Portrait of the Amara Silversmith's leader, Zahrun". Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 9 December 2021.
  6. ^ "Advance of the Crusaders into Mesopotamia | Note: name misspelled as 'Zahroam of Amara'". Imperial War Museum. Retrieved 9 December 2021.
  7. ^ هيام الخياط (19 January 2016). "زهرون عمارة صائغ الملوك السلاطين". Mandaean Associations Union. Retrieved 27 January 2022.
  8. ^ "زهرون عمارة .. عمل "ارگيلة " من الفضة للسلطان عبدالحميد". 20 February 2018. Retrieved 27 January 2022.