From goldsmiths to gem setters, from lapidaries to gemmologists, this is your guide to the different types of jewellery professionals.

We are lucky in Toronto to have access to such a wide range of jewellery professionals. We know it can be difficult for the average person who is not involved in the industry to understand all of the different specialties. In this article we’re going explore some of the most common jewellery industry professionals and what they do.

We will focus on the jewellery professionals involved in the production of fine jewellery.


The working of metal is one of the oldest trades in human history. As the centuries progressed, so did specialization. A blacksmith worked iron and steel into swords and horseshoes. A silversmith worked silver into ornamental items such as candlesticks and plate. A goldsmith worked gold into precious jewellery and sacred objects.

Although it could be said that all of these people could be referred to as metal workers, it is more accurate to define them in terms of their specialties.

In the modern era, the number of specialties in the jewellery industry has increased due to advances in technology. But also because, in our ever more busy world, it just isn’t possible for one person to do everything.


As mentioned above, goldsmithing is one of the oldest trades. As methods and skill became more refined during medieval times, the apprenticeship system emerged as the main method of passing on knowledge. The apprenticeship model is still an option but there are also now trade schools that teach goldsmithing. We are graduates of the George Brown Jewellery Program which we highly recommend!

The training to become a Goldsmith includes learning to work and manipulate all precious metals. Despite not be included in the profession title, a goldsmith works with all noble metals including silver, gold and platinum. A goldsmith education will also include basic gemmology instruction, stone setting, wax carving, mold making and casting.

A good way to think about a goldsmith is as the “general practioner” of jewellery. They will often have another jewellery specialty or two in addition to being a trained goldsmith.

Hand Engraver

A hand engraver is trained in the art of engraving in metal. And it truly is an art. A master hand engraver will often create intricate patterns of their own design. Learning to use steel tools to delicately carve into the metal without making a mistake is quite a skill!

The labour and skill required to hand engrave is immense. It is not surprising then that it is much more expensive than designing an engraved pattern in the computer or using a laser for engraving.

Gem Setter

As the title suggests, a gem setter specializes in setting gemstones into mountings such as rings, pendants and earrings. A gem setter is also usually a trained goldsmith but focuses on the part of the process that involves gem setting. This is a skill that requires many years to master.

There are also many different types of gem setting and each one requires different methods. Knowledge of gemology is also a must.

Gem setting is a skill that requires time, focus and precision. For that reason some goldsmiths will choose to specialize in gem setting and leave the overall production of the jewellery pieces to someone else.


Casting is the process of taking a jewellery piece from a wax model to metal. While some goldsmith’s will have their casting facilities in house, many choose to use a casting house. The process of casting is very time consuming with many steps. It also requires a lot of energy use so it makes sense to use a facility instead.

All major cities will have a casting house. We have multiple excellent choices available to us Toronto.

CAD Artists

A new jewellery professional has arisen in the 21st century. Computer-Aided Design (CAD) software like Rhino is used in a wide variety of industries to construct digital models. In the jewellery industry CAD artists use this computer program to design a model of a jewellery piece.

Once the piece has been created, the file of that item is used to print a model in wax. This wax model is then used in the casting process to create an exact replica of the original design.

While some may regret the loss of traditional techniques, CAD has allowed for an explosion in custom options. Whereas in the past the labour involved in some designs may have been too cost prohibitive, CAD now allows us to create with freedom.

Jewellery Designer

The title jewellery designer is a catch all term that does not describe any particular specialization.  The category is just too wide to be helpful. A person may call themselves a jewellery designer with absolutely no training in jewellery whatsoever.

We include it here because it can be sometimes used to describe jewellery professionals such as goldsmiths creating custom jewellery or CAD artists. It is essential that the designer of a piece of fine jewellery has been trained as a goldsmith. When using expensive metals and precious gemstones, the piece must be well designed and constructed to last. You don’t want the piece falling apart or the gemstone falling out!

Watch Makers

Horology is another trade with a significant and storied history. While broadly placed under the category of jewellery, watch making and repair requires an entirely different type of education and training. It is also often associated with the tool and dye trade.


An enamellist is someone that works with glass and metal. Jewellery professionals that specialize in enamel will have a lot of colour in their work. This colour is glass that has been incorporated into their design.

An easy way to know if someone is an enamellist is if their work includes a colour that is not produced by either metal or gemstones!


Lapidaries specialize in working with gemstones. Their expertise is in cutting, shaping, and polishing precious stones.  The more complicated the cutting required for a gemstone, the more skilled the lapidary required. For example, a facetted gemstone requires much more expertise than a cabochon (rounded stone with no facet edges).

A lapidary may go to school for training or learn as an apprentice. Precision and skill are the hallmarks of this profession and they require years to master.


Gemologists are trained to identify, grade, and assess gemstones. Education in gemology is available in some post secondary schools. But, certification is issued only after testing is completed successfully by a recognized institution such as the Gemmological Association of Great Britain (GEM-A) or the Gemology Institute of America (GIA).

A gemologist could seek a job outside of the industry but many choose to become jewellery professionals such as appraisers or gemstone suppliers.


Why it’s Important to Speak to Jewellery Professionals

One of the benefits of working directly with one of these jewellery professionals is that you know they are an authority in their field. In a corporate retail jewellery space, most of the individuals you will encounter do not have the expertise or training of a professional. By speaking with a person with experience and training, you can be confident that you are receiving accurate information.

In addition to accurate information you can ensure that the piece you are making will be designed properly, using quality materials, and finished & set skillfully to last a lifetime.

In our experience, professionals in our industry love talking about jewellery so much that you will have a hard time getting them to stop! That is definitely true for us. We’d love to share our knowledge with you.


author avatar

Back to Top