Thursday, 24 March 2011 15:29


Rate this item
(0 votes)

Jewellery manufacturing can include working with a variety of materials, such as precious and semi-precious stones, synthetic stones, shells, coral, pearls, precious metals, metal enamels and newer materials such as epoxy resins and vinyl polymers. These can be used to make rings, earrings, necklaces, pendants and a variety of other personal decorative items. Jewellery manufacturing shops vary in size, and different manufacturing processes may be adopted. Thus, health hazards may vary from one workshop to another.

Processes, Hazards and Precautions

Precious stones and settings

Much jewellery manufacturing involves the setting of precious stones into bases of precious metals or alloys of precious metals. Stones are initially cut into desired sizes, then polished. Base metals are cast, then ground and polished. Traditionally, the metal settings were made using “injection” mouldings. Alloys of low melting point, including alloys of cadmium and mercury, have also been used for metal casting. Recently, “lost wax” methods have been used to achieve a better quality of casting. Stones are held on metal bases using adhesives, soldering or mechanical clamping by parts of the metal frame. Metal bases are usually plated with precious metals.

Health hazards may result from exposure to metal fumes, wax fumes or dust of stones and metals, and visual impairment from poor lighting. Working with fine parts of jewellery items generally requires proper ventilation, adequate illumination and the use of magnifying lenses. In addition, proper ergonomic design in the workplace is recommended.

Stone cutting and polishing

Precious, semi-precious and synthetic stones (including diamond, jade, ruby, garnet, jasper, agate, travertine, opal, turquoise and amethyst) are usually cut to the desired size with small saws before setting. Injury hazards include abrasions and lacerations of the skin or eyes; other health hazards include dust inhalation (e.g., silicosis from quartz stones).

Precautions include proper ventilation, dust collectors, using magnifying lenses, local illumination, eye protection and ergonomic design of tools and working environments.

Lost wax metal casting

Rubber or silicon moulds are made from original moulds that are custom-made or designed by artists. Wax is subsequently injected into these moulds. Moulds (called investments) of plaster of Paris and/or silica are made to enclose these wax moulds. The whole investment is then heated in the kiln or oven to drain the wax out of the block, then filled with molten metal with the aid of centrifugation. The mould is shattered to recover the metal piece. This is polished, and also may be electroplated with a thin layer of precious metal.

Precious metals and their alloys, including gold, silver, platinum and copper as well as zinc and tin, are commonly used in constructing metal pieces. Injury hazards include fire or explosion from flammable gas used for melting metals, and burns from heated plaster casts or blocks, molten metal spillage, oxyacetylene torches or ovens; other health hazards include inhalation of metal fumes or dusts of silver, gold, zinc, lead, tin and so on.

Precautions include using alternative casting methods to lower the level of exposures and toxicity, proper local exhaust ventilation for metal dust and fumes, dust collectors, personal protective equipment including goggles, insulating gloves and working gowns, and proper storage of flammable gas.


Enamelling involves the fusion of pre-ground, powdered lead or borosilicate glass particles mixed with various coloured oxides onto a base metal to form an enamelled surface. Base metals can include silver, gold or copper. Common colourants include antimony, cadmium, cobalt, chromium, manganese, nickel and uranium.


The metal surface must first be cleaned with a torch or in a kiln to burn off oils and grease; it is then pickled with dilute nitric or sulphuric acid, or the safer sodium bisulphate, to remove firescale. Hazards include thermal and acid burns. Precautions include protective gloves, goggles and apron.


Some enamellists grind and sift their enamels to obtain desired particle sizes. Application techniques include brushing, spraying, stencilling and sifting or wet packing of the enamel onto the metal surface. Inhalation of enamel powder or spray mist is the greatest hazard, particularly with lead-based enamels. Precautions include use of lead-free enamels and respiratory protection. In cloisonné, different enamel colours are separated by metal wires that have been soldered onto the metal. (See the discussion on silver soldering below). In champleve, designs are etched with ferric chloride or nitric acid, and depressed areas filled with enamels. Another technique involves applying enamels mixed with resin in turpentine. Ventilation and precautions to prevent skin contact are required.


The enamelled metal is then fired in a small kiln. Ventilation is required to remove toxic metal fumes, fluorides and decomposition products (from gums and other organic materials in the enamel). Other hazards include thermal burns and infrared radiation. Infrared goggles and heat-protective gloves are recommended.

The enamel piece can then be finished by such methods as filing the edges and grinding and sanding the enamelled surface. Standard precautions against dust inhalation and eye contact are needed.

Metal jewellery

Metal jewellery can be made by cutting, bending and otherwise fabricating metals, electroplating, anodizing, soldering, gluing, finishing and so on. Many of these processes are discussed in “Metalworking”. Some specific applications are discussed below.


Gold, silver, copper and strong acid as well as cyanide are used in the electroplating process. Injury hazards include electrical shock and burns from acid or alkali spillage; other health hazards include the inhalation of metal, acid and cyanide mist, organic solvents, as well as hydrogen cyanide gas.

Precautions include substitution of non-cyanide plating solutions, avoidance of mixing cyanide solution with acids, local exhaust ventilation, using a tank cover to reduce mist production, proper storage of chemicals, electrical precautions and adequate personal protective equipment.

Soldering or gluing

Soldering involves metals such as tin, lead, antimony, silver, cadmium, zinc and bismuth. Safety hazards include burns; other health hazards include the inhalation of metal fumes, including lead and cadmium (Baker et al. 1979), and fluoride and acid fluxes.

Using epoxy resin and quick-drying agents with solvents to bind stones and metal pieces is a common practice. Injury hazards from gluing include fire and explosion; other health hazards include the inhalation of solvents and skin contact with epoxy resin, other adhesives and solvents.

Precautions include avoidance of lead and cadmium solders, adequate local exhaust ventilation, proper storage of chemicals, adequate illumination and personal protective equipment.

Metal grinding and polishing

Rotating wheels and linear actuators of varied sizes are used for grinding, polishing and cutting. Injury hazards include skin abrasions; other health hazards include the inhalation of metal dusts, as well as repetitive motion, vibration, awkward position and forces.

Precautions include adequate local exhaust ventilation, dust collectors, goggles for eye protection and ergonomic designs for workplaces and tools.


Mother-of-pearl (from oyster shells) and coral, as well as abalone and other shells, can be made into jewellery by cutting, drilling, sawing, shaving, grinding, polishing, finishing and so on. Hazards include hand and eye injuries from flying particles and sharp edges, respiratory irritation and allergic reactions from inhalation of fine shell dust, and, in the case of mother-of-pearl, possible hypersensitivity pneumonia and ossification with inflammation of tissues covering the bones, especially in young people.

Precautions include cleaning shells thoroughly to remove organic matter, wet grinding and polishing techniques, and local exhaust ventilation or respiratory protection. Goggles should be worn to prevent eye injury.


Beads can be made from a variety of materials, including glass, plastic, seed, bone, shells, pearls, gemstones and so on. A newer material used for beads and other jewellery is heat-cured polyvinyl chloride (polymer clays). Hazards include inhalation of dust from drilling the holes for the string or wire used to hold the beads, and possible eye injuries. Precautions include wet drilling, ventilation or respiratory protection and goggles. The polymer clays can release hydrogen chloride, a respiratory irritant, if heated above recommended temperatures. Using cooking ovens for heat curing is not recommended. There has also been concern about plasticizers such as diethylhexyl phthalate, a possible carcinogen and reproductive toxin, present in these polymer clays.



Read 6745 times Last modified on Saturday, 30 July 2022 22:13
More in this category: « Woodworking Graphic Arts »

" DISCLAIMER: The ILO does not take responsibility for content presented on this web portal that is presented in any language other than English, which is the language used for the initial production and peer-review of original content. Certain statistics have not been updated since the production of the 4th edition of the Encyclopaedia (1998)."


Entertainment and the Arts References

American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. 1991. Protective equipment. In Athletic Training and Sports Medicine. Park Ridge, IL: APOS.

Arheim, DD. 1986. Dance Injuries: Their Prevention and Care. St. Louis, MO: CV Mosby Co.

Armstrong, RA, P Neill, and R Mossop. 1988. Asthma induced by ivory dust: A new occupational cause. Thorax 43(9):737-738.

Axelsson, A and F Lindgren. 1981. Hearing in classical musicians. Acta Oto-Larynogologica 92 Suppl. 377:3-74.

Babin, A 1996. Orchestra pit sound level measurements in Broadway shows. Presented at the 26th Annual Meeting of the American Public Health Association. New York, 20 November.

Baker, EL, WA Peterson, JL Holtz, C Coleman, and PJ Landrigan. 1979. Subacute cadmium intoxication in jewellery workers: an evaluation of diagnostic procedures. Arch Environ Health 34:173-177.

Balafrej, A, J Bellakhdar, M El Haitem, and H Khadri. 1984. Paralysis due to glue in young apprentice shoemakers in the medina of Fez. Rev Pediatrie 20(1):43-47.

Ballesteros, M, CMA Zuniga, and OA Cardenas. 1983. Lead concentrations in the blood of children from pottery-making families exposed to lead salts in a Mexican village. B Pan Am Health Organ 17(1):35-41.

Bastian, RW. 1993. Benign mucosal and saccular disorders; benign laryngeal tumors. In Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, edited by CW Cumming. St. Louis, MO: CV Mosby Co.

—. 1996. Vocal fold microsurgery in singers. Journal of Voice 10(4):389-404

Bastian, R, A Keidar, and K Verdolini-Marston. 1990. Simple vocal tasks for detecting vocal fold swelling. Journal of Voice 4(2):172-183.

Bowling, A. 1989. Injuries to dancers: Prevalence, treatment and perception of causes. British Medical Journal 6675:731-734.

Bruno, PJ, WN Scott, and G Huie. 1995. Basketball. In The Team Physicians’s Handbook, edited by MB Mellion, WM Walsh and GL Shelton. Philadelphia, PA: Mosby Yearbook.

Burr, GA, TJ Van Gilder, DB Trout, TG Wilcox, and R Friscoll. 1994. Health Hazard Evaluation Report: Actors’ Equity Association/The League of American Theaters and Producers, Inc. Doc. HETA 90-355-2449. Cincinnati, OH: US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

Calabrese, LH, DT Kirkendal, and M Floyd. 1983. Menstrual abnormalities, nutritional patterns and body composition in female classical ballet dancers. Phys Sports Med 11:86-98.

Cardullo, AC, AM Ruszkowski, and VA DeLeo. 1989. Allergic contact dermatitis resulting from sensitivity to citrus peel, geriniol, and citral. J Am Acad Dermatol 21(2):395-397.

Carlson, T. 1989. Lights! Camera! Tragedy. TV Guide (26 August):8-11.

Chasin, M and JP Chong. 1992. A clinically efficient hearing protection program for musicians. Med Prob Perform Artists 7(2):40-43.

—. 1995. Four environmental techniques to reduce the effect of music exposure on hearing. Med Prob Perform Artists 10(2):66-69.

Chaterjee, M. 1990. Ready-made garment workers in Ahmedabad. B Occup Health Safety 19:2-5.

Clare, PR. 1990. Football. In The Team Physicians’s Handbook, edited by MB Mellion, WM Walsh, and GL Shelton. St. Louis, MO: CV Mosby Co.

Cornell, C. 1988. Potters, lead and health—Occupational safety in a Mexican village (meeting abstract). Abstr Pap Am Chem S 196:14.

Council on Scientific Affairs of the American Medical Association. 1983. Brain injury in boxing. JAMA 249:254-257.

Das, PK, KP Shukla, and FG Ory. 1992. An occupational health programme for adults and children in the carpet weaving industry, Mirzapur, India: A case study in the informal sector. Soc Sci Med 35(10):1293-1302.

Delacoste, F and P Alexander. 1987. Sex Work: Writings by Women in the Sex Industry. San Francisco, CA: Cleis Press.

Depue, RH and BT Kagey. 1985. A proportionate mortality study of the acting profession. Am J Ind Med 8:57-66.

Dominguez, R, JR DeJuanes Paardo, M Garcia Padros, and F Rodriguez Artalejo. 1987. Antitetanic vaccination in a high-risk population. Med Segur Trab 34:50-56.

Driscoll, RJ, WJ Mulligan, D Schultz, and A Candelaria. 1988. Malignant mesothelioma: a cluster in a Native American population. New Engl J Med 318:1437-1438.

Estébanez, P, K Fitch, and Nájera 1993. HIV and female sex workers. Bull WHO 71(3/4):397-412.

Evans, RW, RI Evans, S Carjaval, and S Perry. 1996. A survey of injuries among Broadway performers. Am J Public Health 86:77-80.

Feder, RJ. 1984. The professional voice and airline flight. Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, 92(3):251-254.

Feldman, R and T Sedman. 1975. Hobbyists working with lead. New Engl J Med 292:929.

Fishbein, M. 1988. Medical problems among ICSOM musicians. Med Prob Perform Artists 3:1-14.

Fisher, AA. 1976. “Blackjack disease” and other chromate puzzles. Cutis 18(1):21-22.

Frye, HJH. 1986. Incidence of overuse syndrome in the symphony orchestra. Med Prob Perform Artists 1:51-55.

Garrick, JM. 1977. The frequency of injury, mechanism of injury and epidemiology of ankle sprains. Am J Sports Med 5:241-242.

Griffin, R, KD Peterson, J Halseth, and B Reynolds. 1989. Radiographic study of elbow injuries in professional rodeo cowboys. Phys Sports Med 17:85-96.

Hamilton, LH and WG Hamilton. 1991. Classical ballet: Balancing the costs of artistry and athleticism. Med Prob Perform Artists 6:39-44.

Hamilton, WG. 1988. Foot and ankle injuries in dancers. In Sports Clinics of North America, edited by L Yokum. Philadelphia, PA: Williams and Wilkins.

Hardaker, WTJ. 1987. Medical considerations in dance training for children. Am Fam Phys 35(5):93-99.

Henao, S. 1994. Health Conditions of Latin American Workers. Washington, DC: American Public Health Association.

Huie, G and EB Hershman. 1994. The team clinician’s bag. Am Acad Phys Asst 7:403-405.

Huie, G and WN Scott. 1995. Assessment of ankle sprains in athletes. Phys Assist J 19(10):23-24.

Kipen, HM and Y Lerman. 1986. Respiratory abnormalities among photographic developers: A report of 3 cases. Am J Ind Med 9:341-347.

Knishkowy, B and EL Baker. 1986. Transmission of occupational disease to family contacts. Am J Ind Med 9:543-550.

Koplan, JP, AV Wells, HJP Diggory, EL Baker, and J Liddle. 1977. Lead absorption in a community of potters in Barbados. Int J Epidemiol 6:225-229.

Malhotra, HL. 1984. Fire safety in assembly buildings. Fire Safety J 7(3):285-291.

Maloy, E. 1978. Projection booth safety: New findings and new dangers. Int Assoc Electr Inspect News 50(4):20-21.

McCann, M. 1989. 5 dead in movie heliocopter crash. Art Hazards News 12:1.

—. 1991. Lights! Camera! Safety! A Health and Safety Manual for Motion Picture and Television Production. New York: Center for Safety in the Arts.

—. 1992a. Artist Beware. New York: Lyons and Burford.

—. 1992b. Art Safety Procedures: A Health and Safety Manual for Art Schools and Art Departments. New York: Center for Safety in the Arts.

—. 1996. Hazards in cottage industries in developing countries. Am J Ind Med 30:125-129.

McCann, M, N Hall, R Klarnet, and PA Peltz. 1986. Reproductive hazards in the arts and crafts. Presented at the Annual Conference of the Society for Occupational and Environmental Health Conference on Reproductive Hazards in the Environment and Workplace, Bethesda, MD, 26 April.

Miller, AB, DT Silverman, and A Blair. 1986. Cancer risk among artistic painters. Am J Ind Med 9:281-287.

MMWR. 1982. Chromium sensitization in an artist’s workshop. Morb Mort Weekly Rep 31:111.

—. 1996. Bull riding-related brain and spinal cord injuries—Louisiana, 1994-1995. Morb and Mort Weekly Rep 45:3-5.

Monk, TH. 1994. Circadian rhythms in subjective activation, mood, and performance efficiency. In Principles and Practice of Sleep Medicine, 2nd edition, edited by M. Kryger and WC. Roth. Philadelphia, PA: WB Saunders.

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). 1991. Environmental Tobacco Smoke in the Workplace: NIOSH Current Intelligence Bulletin 54. Cincinnati, OH: NIOSH.

Norris, RN. 1990. Physical disorders of visual artists. Art Hazards News 13(2):1.

Nubé, J. 1995. Beta Blockers and Performing Musicians. Doctoral thesis. Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam.

O’Donoghue, DH. 1950. Surgical treatment of fresh injuries to major ligaments of the knee. J Bone Joint Surg 32:721-738.

Olkinuora, M. 1984. Alcoholism and occupation. Scand J Work Environ Health 10(6):511-515.

—. 1976. Injuries to the knee. In Treatment of Injuries to Athletes, edited by DH O’Donoghue. Philadelphia, PA: WB Saunders.

Pan American Health Organization, (PAHO). 1994. Health Conditions in the Americas. Vol. 1. Washington, DC: PAHO.

Pheterson, G. 1989. The Vindication of the Rights of Whores. Seattle, WA: Seal Press.

Prockup, L. 1978. Neuropathy in an artist. Hosp Pract (November):89.

Qualley, CA. 1986. Safety in the Artroom. Worcester, MA: Davis Publications.

Ramakrishna, RS, P Muthuthamby, RR Brooks, and DE Ryan. 1982. Blood lead levels in Sri Lankan families recovering gold and silver from jewellers’ waste. Arch Environ Health 37(2):118-120.

Ramazzini, B. 1713. De morbis artificum (Diseases of Workers). Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Rastogi, SK, BN Gupta, H Chandra, N Mathur, PN Mahendra, and T Husain. 1991. A study of the prevalence of respiratory morbidity among agate workers. Int Arch Occup Environ Health 63(1):21-26.

Rossol, M. 1994. The Artist’s Complete Health and Safety Guide. New York: Allworth Press.

Sachare, A.(ed.). 1994a. Rule #2. Section IIC. In The Official NBA Basketball Encyclopedia. New York: Villard Books.

—. 1994b. Basic Principle P: Guidelines for infection control. In The Official NBA Basketball Encyclopedia. New York: Villard Books.

Sammarco, GJ. 1982. The foot and ankle in classical ballet and modern dance. In Disorders of the Foot, edited by MH Jahss. Philadelphia, PA: WB Saunders.

Sataloff, RT. 1991. Professional Voice: The Science and Art of Clinical Care. New York: Raven Press.

—. 1995. Medications and their effect on the voice. Journal of Singing 52(1):47-52.

—. 1996. Pollution: Consequences for singers. Journal of Singing 52(3):59-64.

Schall, EL, CH Powell, GA Gellin, and MM Key. 1969. Hazards to go-go dancers to exposures to “black” light from fluorescent bulbs. Am Ind Hyg Assoc J 30:413-416.

Schnitt, JM and D Schnitt. 1987. Psychological aspects of dance. In The Science of Dance Training, edited by P Clarkson and M Skrinar. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics Press.

Seals, J. 1987. Dance surfaces. In Dance Medicine: A Comprehensive Guide, edited by A Ryan and RE Stephens. Chicago, IL: Pluribus Press.

Sofue, I, Y Yamamura, K Ando, M Iida, and T Takayanagi. 1968. N-hexane polyneuropathy. Clin Neurol 8:393-403.

Stewart, R and C Hake. 1976. Paint remover hazard. JAMA 235:398.

Tan, TC, HC Tsang, and LL Wong. 1990. Noise surveys in discotheques in Hong Kong. Ind Health 28(1):37-40.

Teitz, C, RM Harrington, and H Wiley. 1985. Pressure on the foot in point shoes. Foot Ankle 5:216-221.

VanderGriend, RA, FH Savoie, and JL Hughes. 1991. Fracture of the ankle. In Rockwood and Green’s Fractures in Adults, edited by CA Rockwood, DP Green, and RW Bucholz. Philadelphia, PA: JB Lippincott Co.

Warren, M, J Brooks-Gunn, and L Hamilton. 1986. Scoliosis and fracture in young ballet dancers: Relationship to delayed menarcheal age and amenorrhea. New Engl J Med 314:1338-1353.

World Health Organization (WHO). 1976. Meeting on Organization of Health Care in Small Industries. Geneva: WHO.

Zeitels, S. 1995. Premalignant epithelium and microinvasive cancer of the vocal fold: the evolution of phonomicrosurgical management. Laryngoscope 105(3):1-51.