Jewellery Making Manual (How to design and make your own jewellery) by Sylvia Wicks

This is a review written by Joanne Varney who holds a BA (Hons) in Jewellery and Silversmithing and is part of the Cooksongold team.

I first came across this book when I enrolled on my Jewellery and Silversmithing course many years ago. It was one of the texts recommended by the course tutors as a good introduction and guide to, what was then a totally new subject to me. I can remember opening the book and staring for ages at the image of the jewellers bench covered in tools, thinking to myself, how am I ever going to know what to do with all those tools!

As I began to read through the book, I soon found that my initial worries began to disappear. The book can loosely be divided into 3 parts.

1st Part

As with many jewellery books, the author begins with an outline of a basic tool kit and then goes on to explain how each tool is used and for what purpose. In what makes up the first section of the book she lists 7 “Basic Techniques”, which are all demonstrated via mini projects, illustrated with numerous photos:

  1. Cutting
  2. Drilling
  3. Filing
  4. Soldering
  5. Bending
  6. Hammering
  7. Finishing

Although some of these photos are a little dated, the projects are easy to follow and very achievable for a beginner, which keeps you motivated.  As a student it was invaluable to have these basic techniques to refer back to again and again. Once mastered, these techniques provide the cornerstones of most jewellery design regardless of the materials you are using.

2nd Part

In the next chapter, jewellery design is explained. The author firstly explains the need for design and then goes on to describe the different stages involved with taking an idea from concept to fruition.  This is excellently written and really emphasises how vital good planning is when making jewellery. A helpful section is the one covering design presentation and illustration, which you can always refer to for ideas. The painting techniques shown on pages 58 and 59 are a brilliant guide for creating simple but effective representations of metal and stones suitable to show your customers – easy to understand and not over complicated!

3rd Part

The remaining sections of the book cover what are described as  “Special Techniques” and  “Advanced Techniques”, which become more relevant as you progress and begin to specialise in one of the many different areas of jewellery making. When viewed as a whole these chapters can seem a little daunting, but you will soon start to pick out projects which can be added to your basic arsenal of techniques; for example, Making a Rub-Over Collet with a Twist Wire Decoration and Cuttlefish Casting. I found both of these techniques easy to follow and convenient since they require a limited amount of tools.


A useful glossary of terms is included at the back of the book along with information on hallmarking, diamond weights, and costing. There is also a stone chart detailing colour, cut and hardness, plus information on different metal properties  towards the front of the book, which basically tells you all you need to know before embarking on a trip to the bullion dealers or stone merchants.

I feel the ‘Jewellery Making Manual’  offers a rigorous but accessible introduction to jewellery making. It covers a wide range of topics, but in a clear and concise way making it easy to absorb. I would recommend it to anyone contemplating jewellery either as a hobby or a career and would hope that you get as much out of it as I have.


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