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Goldsmiths were the main jewelers in the medieval world.  They worked on both gold and silver, but silver or silver-gilt was seen as a poor substitute for gold, so it was suitable for lower classes. The gold that they made was actually “recycled” gold.  They found old coins, jewelry, and other objects that were made of gold.  These items were usually from past Byzantine emperors and their courts.  Some of the jewels found in the ancient pieces of gold were carved, and the   goldsmiths took advantage of these stones.  They used these instead of plain stones to decorate their work so they could charge more and get more profit, considering they didn’t carve the gems.  After the stones were taken out, the pure gold was melted in smelting pots. Then a wax mold was made and the heated gold was poured into the molds.  After the gold had cooled in the mold, the wax would be taken off, and if desired, (a) stone(s) would be put into the product.  

Goldsmiths also had both options as to what they could put in their work.  They could use materials, such as mother of pearl, stones, or enamel.  The products of the goldsmiths were rings, pendants, charms for necklaces, earrings, goblets, containers, and statuettes.  In the picture to the upper right, a goldsmith is inspecting his work.  Lower left: Various gold rings and ornaments.

Comments are requested, and quite welcome: Allyson Terry's email or Kacey Marton's email

  Page last updated: 04/11/2003 03:42