Steel and Gold Jewelry

Course Description

About this course

Learn how to fuse gold to steel to create dramatic mixed metals jewelry. Steel is an amazing metal—strong, lightweight and malleable. One of the most appealing characteristics of steel is its affinity for gold. Simply put, steel “loves” gold. Marrying steel with gold creates a dramatic combination that responds to today’s aesthetic for jewelry that is bold and urban yet maintains an elegant richness.

In this workshop, students will learn how to work with steel and use a torch to fuse gold to it to create a dramatic contrast. The workshop will cover aspects of working with mild cold rolled steel including sourcing, cutting, soldering, forming, texturing, patinating and sealing. In addition, the class includes instruction on how to alloy gold in preparation for fusing, a skill that can be broadly applied to other metals.

Students will study how to fuse gold to steel sheet and iron wire while also learning adaptations necessary to manage the fusing process and trouble shoot. In addition, students will learn to bond gold foil to steel using a Keum Boo technique that the instructor has developed specifically for steel. Expect to complete at least two finished pieces of steel/gold jewelry using design patterns provided by the instructor or of your own design. 

Meet the Instructor

Bette Barnett

Bette Barnett has devoted her work since 2013 to exploring and experimenting with steel and gold. Bette began her jewelry career in 2010 and subsequently studied with the late Chris Nelson through his advanced workshops in fusing gold to steel. Since then Bette has perfected additional techniques and processes for steel, including Keum Boo on steel, fusing gold to iron wire, creating a variety of alloys for fusing to steel such as shibuichi and shakudo, etching steel and fusing gold to non-traditional steel forms, such as screens and wires.  In recognition of her work to further steel and fused gold, the Santa Fe Symposium has selected Bette to create a research paper on steel jewelry and present it during the 2020 Symposium Conference. She has also published articles on steel and gold jewelry in Lapidary Journal: Jewelry Artist.

Bette honed her instructor skills during her former career as a corporate communication consultant by providing extensive training services for some of the largest companies in the world. She continually uses feedback from student surveys and hosting studios to refine her workshop offerings.

Bette teaches private lessons (both virtually and live) in her San Diego studio and offers group lessons throughout the U.S.

Materials & Tools 

There is a $45 materials fee that is payable upon registration. The materials kit includes alloying metals to be used for gold (fine silver and copper), mild steel sheets (18g and 20g, one 12” x 6” sheet of each). Scraps will also be available, 1 oz samples of the appropriate flux, pickle and clear wax for steel, small container for gold pallions, brass brush for cleaning steel, small abrasive pads for adding “tooth” to the steel surface, course presentation materials for note taking, source sheets for purchasing materials and supplies, and 1” x .5”rectangle of gold foil for Keum Boo.  

The instructor will also have the following available at no additional cost: iron wire in various gauges, various non-gold metal and alloys for fusing (e.g., copper, shakudo, shibuichi), cheese cloth for clear wax, materials for roller texturing steel and foam brushes for applying sealer.

Available for purchase in class: small quantities of gold solder, silver and gold foil for Keum Boo, agate burnishers.

Students should bring 

Students are required to bring at least two pennyweight (dwt) of 24K gold casting grains (available from Rio Grande and other vendors). Note that students will be pooling gold casting grains in small groups to create various gold alloys. While stone setting is not covered in the workshop, students are welcome to bring stones to add to their projects if desired.

Additionally, students are welcome to bring any of their favorite hand tools. Metalwerx has many tools available for use during class but if you have your own, you can bring them along so you don't have to share.  Typically, helpful hand tools and materials include:

  • Pliers and wire cutters
  • Sandpaper
  • Files
  • Jeweler's saw and blades (2/0 and 3/0)
  • Small hand shears (sharp to cut gold foil, such as Joyce Chen or sharp manicure scissors)
  • Sketch book for taking notes
  • Fine pointed tweezers (to handle gold foil)
  • Ruler
  • Scribe
  • Steel or agate burnisher (two if students have them)
  • Digital calipers
  • Jeweler’s scale (if students have one; instructor will have extras)​
  • Optivisor or other magnifying lenses if students use them
  • Easy gold solder (if students have it; will also be available for purchase in small quantities)



Materials Cost



Bette Barnett


October 4 -6, 2019


10:00 AM -5:00 PM


3 days

Basic and above
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