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A life of Aprenticeship


I had to pay many of the same dues that others have to learn this
craft. I’ve always had an artistic inclination and loved working
with my hands, but it wasn’t until my late 20’s did I follow my
dream to be a working artist.

After taking a few evening adult education courses in silversmithing
and a summer intensive class at a state university, I decided to
pursue jewelry work full steam ahead… I called every jeweler in
the yellow pages, finally finding one who was willing to take me on
as an apprentice. I learned a certain amount, but I’ve found some
people don’t want to share all the skills they know. I guess they
figure that once you know what they know, you’ll just move on. If
they can keep you dependent on them by not teaching you everything,
it’s to their advantage. I’ve heard of a woman who has worked for
the same jeweler for close to 20 years and he’s brainwashed her into
thinking she cannot do stone setting, so she is forced to do menial
shop work, basic repairs and wait on customers.

I spent some time in a trade/sweat shop sizing piles of JC Penny
rings everyday. That experience taught me that I could work very
fast if I had to, but that work was not what I had in mind when I
decided to be a goldsmith!

I value the five years I spent working for a master craftsman and
designer. I had to re-learn most of what I thought I already knew,
he has an impeccable standard of workmanmanship that I will always
aspire towards. There is no substitute for sitting at the side of
skilled artisan who is willing and has the patience to share his or
her knowledge.

A few years ago when a carpal tunnel injury prompted me to explore
CAD jewelry work as an alternative to bench work, I was fortunate to
have had the option of retraining through state workman’s
compensation benefits. Although, I could not have learned all there
is to know in the six months the state provided for, the experience
opened me up to a whole new world of high tech jewelry making.

I’ve sinced met many wonderful people online and in my travels and
explorations who have helped me to continue to realize my goals. I
hope I’ll always be learning new skills and keeping up with the
rapidly progressing technoloy of CAD work. For me, this aspect of
jewelry making is more fun and exciting that anything I’ve ever done

I’ll forever be grateful for all the people from whom I’ve learned,
and for all opportunities I’ve recieved as a result of my hard work
and perserverance.

Chosing the life of an artist has it’s merits and pitfalls to be
sure. I’ve tried other things along the way, but nothing that has
given me the same satisfaction of working in this business.

The fact is, an artisan’s labor is not valued very highly in our
culture. I originally tried to work as a potter, but I saw the
difficulty of making a living doing that, early on.

Jewelry has an intrinsic value, thereby providing the artist with
some built in monetary value to his or her work. There is a certain
artistry and spirit that goes into creating something from nothing.
To create a piece of jewelry from your own vision and spirit imparts
an intangible quality which some people appreciate and value…

It’s the privledge of working for these people that helps to make it
all worthwhile.

Jesse Kaufman
JDK Jewelry
CAD/CAM Technology
Handcrafted Originality


Jesse, Thanks for sharing your story, I was wondering if you would
share more in regards to cad cam , I would like to start playing
around in this direction but I am not sure which way to start. I
doubt I could get an apperentiship with someone in this field ,my
local college may be one source for info.What programs -software and
computer do you suggest.

I started my appertenship 20+ years ago at the age of 17, I was
given a place to sleep and food to eat and very little money, of
which my only need for at the time was to buy tools and pay for the
classes I was taking at the same time.