The Fascinating Life of a Master Polisher
Interview with a Master Polisher, Stephen M Goldsmith FIPG – MNGG
Celebrated Master Polisher Stephen M Goldsmith has worked in the Jewellery Industry for almost 50 years. Read more about his memorable work moments in this interview with me at The Bespoke Jewellery Training Company as he celebrates the launch of his new book – Polishing and Finishing for Jewellers & Silversmiths, a workshop manual which is now published by The Crowood Press.
Why did you decide to write a book about Polishing?
It seemed a natural path for me to think about writing a book on polishing, the next step after teaching for sharing my skills.
My polishing style is very unique and not just about making everything bright and shiny, I thought a book of trade tips would be very helpful to all – Jewellers and Silversmiths alike.
The 25,000 word and 100 images limit was difficult – I had so much to share and only 95 pages so I decided to write practical paperback for everyone to have around the workshop to ready to give advice on hand as required.
>>>> Added 18th January 2019: Wonderful reviews!
I have many friends who are jewellers, and for those of you who have interest in finishing and polishing, this may well be the most important book you ever buy. And I don’t say that about many books.... in fact I have over 200 books, and this is one of just five I have said this about.
I have read mine already but I know I will repeatedly refer to it during the course of my work. Stephen M Goldsmith has produced a book that is both readable, accessible and understandable to all levels of the industry, yet is not patronising in any way.
This book will give even the most experienced of jewellers a few hints and tips to improve their work finishing and polishing.
In my view this book by Stephen M Goldsmith is an absolute must for any serious minded jeweller
> Reviewed by William Hawkes / Goldsmith & Jewellery Restoration Specialist
I got the book two days ago and just a cursory look has made me change the way I do my polishing. Today I have totally sorted out my polishes and mops etc made a new storage system.
It's a great easy to read book and after more than 30 years at the bench you've taught and old dog some new tricks and I've a lot more to read.
> Reviewed by Robin Key / Goldsmith
Are there any important, famous or favourite pieces you have polished?
With a career spanning nearly 50 years it’s hard to pin down a favourite job, a few that spring to mind are;
- The Grand Punch Bowl in the Tower of London's Jewel House.
- One of many pieces by Jewellery Designer Theo Fennell,
- A million pound diamond necklace for Forever Mark Diamonds (De Beers)
- The unforgettable naked Kate Moss! – An 18ct gold statuette weighing 4.5 kilos.
How long have you been Polishing, how did you start working in the Jewellery Industry?
I have been a Polisher for almost 50 Years. I started my career in 1970 at the Rochester college of Art, taught by some amazing tutors who are legends now, such as Brian Hill, Norman Bassant and Ian Calvert. I then went on to a 4 year silver polishing apprenticeship with C J Vander just off Hatton Garden, which was indentured by The Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths. During my apprenticeship I actually designed and made my own masterpiece a silver gilt centre piece. This is unusual for a polisher as they are normally given a piece to polish at the end of the apprenticeship to show the Prime Warden and members of the Livery to prove you are entitled to be a Freeman of The Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths’ - once the ceremony was over I went straight down the road to Guild Hall to become a Freeman of the City of London.
In those after days an apprenticeship you were encouraged to learn more working in a variety of trade establishments and I joined Stuart Devlin of London where there must have been at least 40 in different workshops around St John Street, Clerkenwell area of London. It was a fantastic experience for me, with very different styles of polishing, the new designs were very modern and influenced by great designers like Stuart Devlin and others such as Christopher Lawrence and Gerald Benney, I called them all the “Brat Pack of designer silversmiths!” before them everything I worked on was of a very antique traditional style of design.
I moved on again to gain more experience, and joined the workshop of Nayler Brothers, the main workshop for The Crown Jewellers, Garrards where I had 26 very enjoyable years working with the best of craftspeople and undertaking a range of the best work a polisher could ever wish for.
When did you begin Polishing bespoke high end jewellery?
In 2003 a new chapter of my life as a craftsman began. I was offered a polishing workshop by esteemed Jewellery designer Theo Fennell in Chelsea, London.
He supports skilled craftsmen and knowing about my experience he asked me to transfer my skills to polishing bespoke jewellery, a little bit daunting at the time as the smallest item I had ever polished was a napkin ring! but I was up for the challenge because it gave me the chance to diversify my skills and use very experimental polishing techniques, to create different finishes for his work.
As you can imagine taking a day to polish one ring with several different coloured golds with a massive Paribas tourmaline stone is testing but it is work that I enjoy immensely.
When and why did you decide to share your skills and teach Polishing?
In 2007 another memorable chapter began in my working life because Dawn Meaden-Johnson - who then worked at BCU School of Jewellery in Birmingham - asked me, would I teach? I had never even thought about teaching Polishing and so I did teach and never looked back. I now regularly teach students on short and HND courses at lots of Schools and Companies and offer private tuition.
Teaching is now an integral part of my professional practise; I have turned my polishing masterclasses into an art form and travel all around the world sharing my skills with the next generation by teaching.
Do you have any advice to offer Jewellers or Silversmiths about Polishing or the importance of Polishing?
Collaborate: The trade has changed immensely over nearly 50 years, the advice in my time was to surround yourself with the best craftsmen, in fact I remember Stuart Devlin saying when he was Prime Warden (The Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths) "if you are a designer stick to that and use other craftsmen to do the other jobs, they are good at!"
Learn more: Everything you have made is affected by how you polish so my advice is to invest in training it will save you time which is money in the long run. Nowadays most craftspeople are working mostly alone with almost no-one to go to for advice, this is where The Bespoke Jewellery Training Company comes in, you can now select what you need to learn and importantly who to learn from rather be restricted.
Polishing is attention to detail, precision polishing can really elevate a beautiful design.
Be Safe: With polishing it’s easy just to setup a buffing machine and start polishing – but please don’t forget about your health and safety because Polishing is not a technique where you should cut corners, it can be dangerous.
Any final thoughts?
During my years of Polishing I have looked after The Royal Family Silverware, worked on pieces belonging to Sultans and Kings from far and wide and I have polished many major sports trophies. I remember polishing the biggest silver bowl ever made for the Millennium and restoring the Americas Cup (as below) and making it look one hundred and fifty years old, so many highlights – a wonderful career so far!
Stephen M Goldsmith FIPG – MNGG
My thanks to Stephen M Goldsmith for sharing his fascinating story, and for being a tutor and an esteemed member on our Panel of Experts here at The Bespoke Jewellery Training Company - Dawn Meaden-Johnson / Blog Author
If you would like to arrange a private tuition Masterclass with Stephen M Goldsmith please email us at
As this is a bespoke course and you may ask Stephen to advise and demonstrate Polishing techniques suitable for your own work - Jewellery or Silverware
BOOK : Buy Polishing and Finishing for Jewellers & Silversmiths by Stephen M Goldsmith
If you would like to purchase Stephens new book Polishing and Finishing for Jewellers & Silversmiths you can find the links below.
The Crowood Press : http://www.crowood.com/details.asp?isbn=9781785005237&t=Polishing-and-Finishing-for-Jewellers-and-Silversmiths
Amazon ; https://www.amazon.co.uk/Polishing-Finishing-Jewellers-Silversmiths-Goldsmith/dp/1785005235