Manufacture by hand and with hand tools imparts unique and individual qualities to artisanal products, in contrast to mass produced goods where every one is nearly identical. Artisans traditionally work in media such as wood, ceramics, glass, common and precious metals, basketry, textiles, esparto grass, and leather.
Artisan jewelry dates back as far as 7000 BC, when gold and copper began to be sculpted to adorn the human form, and the practice continues today. Although rarely price-competitive with machine-made items, artisan handmade jewelry is prized for its uniqueness, variety, and beauty. Reflecting the talents of the artisan onto the wearer, the broad spectrum of artisan jewelry is available to provide satisfaction to royalty, rock stars, and "everyday folk." Thousands of jewelry artisans exist around the globe. Some fine examples of artisan jewelry can be seen at museums.
Handmade jewelry is jewelry which has been assembled and formed by hand rather than through the use of machines. According to the guidelines of the FTC, in order to be stamped or called "handmade" the work must be made solely by hand power or hand guidance . In essence, this means that jewelry may be made using drills, lathes, or other machinery, but it must be guided by human hand. This precludes the use of punch presses, CNC machinery and casting to name a few processes that would not qualify as "handmade". Beyond that caveat it can be anything made out of anything that would be considered jewelry. The American Gem Trade Association Spectrum awards , the Gem Center Idar Oberstein, and the De Beers Awards include awards specifically for handmade jewelry.
Although there is much mass produced jewelry in the world, there are many people who prefer to have work that is hand-crafted by a real artisan, and the arena of handcrafted jewelry and other items will likely remain healthy because of that fact. Much jewelry that is marked or sold as "hand made" often is not truly so, though it may be essentially so.