Goldsmiths must be skilled in forming metal through filing, soldering, sawing, forging, casting, and polishing metal. The trade has very often included jewellery-making skills, as well as the very similar skills of the silversmith. Traditionally, these skills had been passed along through apprenticeships, however, more recently jewellery arts schools specializing solely in teaching goldsmithing and a multitude of skills falling under the jewellery arts umbrella are available. Many universities and junior colleges also offer goldsmithing, silversmithing, and metal arts fabrication as a part of their fine arts curriculum.
At least in Europe, goldsmiths increasingly performed many of the functions now regarded as part of banking, especially providing custody of valuable items and currency exchange, though they were usually restrained from lending at interest, which was regarded as usury.
Compared to other metals, gold is malleable, ductile, rare, and it is the only solid metallic element with a yellowcolor. It may easily be melted, fused, and cast without the problems of oxides and gas that are problematic with other metals such as bronzes, for example. It is fairly easy to "pressure weld", wherein similarly to clay two small pieces may be pounded together to make one larger piece. Gold is classified as a noble metal—because it does not react with most elements. It usually is found in its native form, lasting indefinitely without oxidization and tarnishing.