Here is a list for beginner jewelers of recommended tools and equipment.
This is not a complete list of everything used by jewelers, rather it is intended as a beginners guide to the basics, and includes what you will use them for.
BENCH (JEWELERS BENCH)- If you are serious, we recommend a dedicated place to store supplies and do your work. A Jewelers Bench sits higher than regular workbenches to prevent hunching and subsequent back pain. A jeweler's workbench typically includes the following features: A metal lined bottom drawer that pulls out, for catching all metal shavings, Bench pins and holes designed to hold ring mandrels, multiple drawers to hold tools for easy accessibility, a walled top surface to keep items from rolling off, and pull-out armrest on each side.
BENCH LAMP- A good light that is designed to bring direct light to all work in any position on the bench.
BENCH BLOCK/BENCH PIN- (May be included with your bench) For small pounding operations, driving out pins, riveting, and much more. And for general use in filing and shaping. (An anvil and bench pin are an essential part of setting up your workspace for jewelry making. It simply screws onto the edge of your workbench or table to provide a flat, steel surface for hammering on and supporting your designs when sawing, drilling, cutting, filing, stone setting and more.)
BENCH VISE- for holding articles during filing or soldering.
HAND VISE- For holding work too large for a pin vise.
RING CLAMP- Used to hold rings during the setting or tightening of stones; and also to hold articles during filing or other work.
BURRS- Come in a large variety, but you can usually find a good assorted starter kit. Burs are used to create "seats" in stone settings to accommodate faceted stones. Also used for creating holes in pearls, beads, and other materials.
BEESWAX-(E) Many uses, particularly useful to pick up stones.
BRUSHES (CAMEL’S HAIR)- Small ones are used to apply flux, large ones for applying lacquer and other solutions. Paint brushes work.
BRUSH (WASHOUT)- Used to scrub and clean jewelry.
BRUSHES (BRISTLE WHEEL)- A variety of large and small for various jobs.
BURNISHER- A must for every jewelry artist who works with diamonds and stone settings. They are good for smoothing metals, bezel setting around stones, preparing surfaces for solder, removing excess solder and removing scratches from metals.
CALIPER- Used to make accurate internal, external and depth measurements in inches and centimeters. It is great for measuring stone diameters and depths, setting sizes, wire diameters, metal sheet, rivets, hinges and other items where accurate sizing is essential.
CONTAINERS (for holding filings and scrap)
FILES- Used for finishing and forming small work. They come in a wide variety. A complete set is recommended and worth the investment. Essential are 6-inch, half-round, joint, barrette, and flat files, and a set of jeweler’s needle files for more delicate work. Riffle files are convenient to reach surfaces otherwise inaccessible.
WOOD FILE HANDLES- Many lengths, shapes and sizes are used in jewelry work.
FLUSH WIRE CUTTERS- Used for cutting beading wire to make necklaces and bracelets, and cutting earring wires when making beaded earrings.
HAND DRILLS AND SMALL DRILL BUTS- Used in piercing, stone setting, and general work.
HAMMERS- A light, steel, riveting hammer and a ball-peen hammer.
MALLET- Most essential is a rawhide mallet for pounding ring shanks. A fiber-faced mallet may also be useful.
PLIERS- One of the most important set of tools. We strongly recommend buying a good German set as they will last a lifetime. Look for cushioned hand grips, spring mechanism and smooth jaws in the pliers. You will need at least 6 different ones.
JEWELERS SAW AND BLADES- A jewelers saw is the best tool you can use for cutting metal tubing, thick wire and for cutting metal sheet into shapes. Blades for use with the jewelers saw frame are available in various sizes for general work.
OPTIVISOR MAGNIFIER #5- Used for hands-free magnifying to inspect fine work and while doing delicate operations!
MANDREL/RING- Used for forming, shaping and reshaping rings. Two may be needed: one steel mandrel with a groove and one without a groove. The one with the groove is used for working with rings when the culet is too low to clear the smooth mandrel.
RING SIZES (U.S. STANDARD)- Used to establish a correct ring size by fitting to the finger.
METAL RULER- for layout, designing, and measuring
METAL STAMPS- SS, .999, sterling, karat, etc. for marking jewelry
PRONG PUSHER and BEZEL ROLLER (also called BEADING TOOLS)- Can be bought in 12-piece sets. Used to close prongs and to close thick or heavy bezels quickly and easily when setting your stones.
METAL SNIPS (or SHEARS)- For cutting solder and thin metal. They are useful for cutting 'pallions' which are small squares from solder strip.
SANDPAPER- For buffing by hand. Flat sheets of various grits, for finishing, shaping and polishing.
SCRIBE - Has many uses; excellent as a pin pusher.
TWEEZERS- For general use in picking up small parts.
POLISHING MOTOR- For grinding, buffing, and generally polishing and finishing work. It is best to choose one made for jewelers.
BUFFs (COMBINATION FELT RING AND WHEEL)- A buff specially designed to polish all surfaces of a ring without changing buffs.
BUFFS (CLOTH WHEEL)- Used primarily to polish with the use of a polishing compound. Available in muslin and cotton flannel.
BUFFS (EMERY INSIDE RING)- Used for grinding, finishing, and polishing the inside of a ring.
RED ROUGE- An abrasive used to obtain a highly polished finish to silver, gold, platinum, etc. Available in many grades.
TRIPOLI- A cutting abrasive used to remove file marks and scratches before polishing.
FLEX-SHAFT MACHINE- They are used in stone setting, drilling, brushing, grinding, buffing, cleaning, and polishing small recesses. A Foredom is a common one used by jewelers. There is a wide variety of attachments to choose from.
PICKLE POT/PICKLE- A pickle is simply an acidic solution that removes oxidation and flux from a piece of soldered metal. Pickle works best when it's heated, so a small crock pot is an ideal container. Keep the setting on low heat.
LARGE GLASS CONTAINER WITH TIGHT LID- Use these containers for the pickle solution (you can buy pickle or find recipes online to make your own), and you may also want ones for cyanide, soda, or alcohol.
WOOD OR COPPER TONGS- Used for getting pieces out of the pickle pot. Steel will contaminate pickle solution causing pieces to be copper plated, so you will also need wood, copper or plastic tongs or tweezers for pickling.
SOLDERING TORCH- You will need a suitable gas torch for soldering your jewelry pieces.
SOLDERING BLOCK/ABESTOS OR CHARCOAL- Used with torch. Articles are placed on pad to solder providing a surface which is fire-proof, keeping the heat exactly where you want it. There are great beginner soldering kits (Rio Grande has one) that provide you everything you need you get started. Things you may need include flux, solder pick, solder, tweezers for holding articles during the soldering operation, yellow ocher (stops solder from flowing in a previous joint), straight and T pins (for holding parts in place during soldering), and binding wire (for holding pieces together while soldering).
Other things to consider:
ULTRASONIC- Uses ultrasonic sound waves to get dirt and grime off of jewelry.
METALSMITH OR LEATHER APRON
AND, OF COURSE, CHECK OUT BARLOWSGEMS FOR AMAZING SEMIPRECIOUS STONE CABOCHONS!!!!
Because if you plan to spend valuable time and resources to make a special piece of jewelry-you should always choose a special designer cabochon, not an ordinary cheap one.
Thanks for reading!