There are smiths who approach gold simply as a material whose
intrinsic qualities work for them. ( color, weight, workability,
resistance to tarnish and wear, strength,etc.) There are also those
who approach the material fearlessly, or who use the value of gold as
a foil against which they construct their theme.
I think that there are jewelers who see what they make as
explorative art, redefining forms and incorporating vastly different
materials or simply using familiar materials in new ways. There are
those who are driven to investigate the formal nature of objects,
bending the material towards that goal.
But there are other jewelers who approach their work from the
business side, selecting materials for their value and marketability.
I think that, perhaps, this last group may limit their designs
because of their investment, but among those who use gold for
whatever reason, I feel that one of the best edges they can exploit
is to step out and make a distinctive impression with their work.
That is: avoid what is safe and predictable.
There is a certainly a great deal of fear surrounding the initial
use of gold for the first time. I’ve seen it cripple students –
especially in a “Goldsmithing” class I taught several years ago.
Some students simply never got past the fear.
What I tell students now is to write themselves a grant: Take the
money they were going to spend on the next workshop or class and buy
an ounce of gold and the proper solders. Then simply begin to play,
perhaps substituting elements of a piece made in copper or silver
with elements fabricated in gold. Adding more and more golden
elements ramps up your use without committing the whole stash of
gold and eliciting a panic response.
Whatever they do, unless these students drive down the interstate
throwing handfuls of shot, sheet or wire out the car window, they’ll
never lose their whole investment. You can always cut out whatever
gold parts you’ve added to a piece, or grind/file off the solder
from a fabricated gold piece and melt it down for sheet, shot or
wire. (Or turn it in to a refiner.)
Take a look at the work of Ross Coppelman, Lisa Gralnick (from the
80’s), Jackie Ryan and Giovanni Corvaggia. These people are not
limited by their material. They are no different than you.