Book Review – Jewelry Metals, A Guide to Working with Common Alloys

I just received a copy of the book, Jewelry Metals, A Guide to Working with Common Alloys, edited by James Binnion and published by the MJSA press.

Jewelry Metals, A Guide to Working with Common Alloys Technical Editor: James Binnion

There is a lot of good information in this book for beginner to advanced metalsmith jewelers, but like many books on metalworking, it has a hard time deciding to which audience it is intended. The first section goes into excellent detail about the properties of some metals that are known to jewelers. It talks about differences between different gold and silver alloys (although with silver it doesn’t specify names of some – perhaps due to trademarked names); There is good advice on working with the different gold and silver alloys as well. There are also sections on platinum and palladium, two metals that are less-commonly worked with and for which finding information is sometimes difficult. Then it lumps all non-precious metals into a single chapter. In a few scant pages the editor has a difficult time providing much detail as he covers copper alloys of brass and bronze, cobalt-chrome, niobium, stainless steel, titanium, and tungsten-carbide.

The second section of the book is a nice overview of different metalworking techniques using various metals and highlights some well-known artists including Michael Good, Cynthia Eid, and Valentin Yotkov. These techniques are presented as quick-magazine article style tutorials and do a decent job of providing some details that would be interesting to advanced metalsmiths and some basic information useful for beginners.

The last two chapters cover managing metal scrap and metals standards and there is actually quite a bit of useful information in here, especially for someone running a shop with employees. Probably of most interest to small single-person jewelry businesses is the information on stamping and marks.

At the end of the book there is a section of information from industry suppliers, most of whom will be familiar to those in the industry.

I’ll be providing this book to the Creative Metal Arts Guild for the guild library, and I do think it will be a good reference. The technical aspects of working with certain metals is something not covered in many metals programs and this book provides a resource for someone to find information that is not easy to remember.