I’ve been cutting stones for what has amounted to many years now. I
know there is a lot of jewelry that does not use however,
it seems fairly apparent that the original purpose of jewelry was
for adornments and symbols to show off stones. The central purpose
was the stone. Even the basic vocabulary of jewelry is about stones.
A jewel is a stone not the metal. A setting is something constructed
to best exhibit that stone. I understand that we’ve moved away from
those ways of thinking but for those of you who use stones perhaps
we’ve moved away too far.
It feels to me as though these days many jewelry designers and
metalsmiths believe that there’s is the only real art and real craft
in this jewelry endeavor. Stone cutting is only a weak adjunct to
what they do. Oddly, often I hear many of the same people saying
that they create their designs because a stone moved them in some
way. Yet I sense an attitude that denigrates the value of the
process by which it became a stone that could move them. After all,
there is no real creativity in the stone cutting, they seem to
think. You just kind of throw it into a machine and it comes out
perfect. No muss no fuss no sweat no cost. .
This attitude seems prevalent even though they’ve often acknowledged
that it is the stone which suggested the design idea to begin with.
I wonder if they think that way of cutting that stone happened by
magic. I have people asking for something new and creative to work
with as long as it isn’t too creative because then they’d be in the
position of framing the picture. Sounds like we’re back to setting a
jewel. It seems like they’re saying, “create me something that’s not
too creative because if you’re too creative then my creativity won’t
be properly displayed. And say, why have you still go the same old
stuff? I’ve seen all that before. It’s dull. I want something new or
I won’t be able to allow my creativity to soar. So here’s what I
want. Create me something that’s not too creative, and give me 20
choices so I have the sense of variety to choose from which further
stimulates my creativity and by the way why is everything so
expensive? How am I supposed to make money with prices like that?” “
And oh. The color of that is nice, but haven’t you got it in a color
about a shade darker than that? GIA says a shade darker is much
better than that junk you’ve got. What do you mean that’s going to
cost me more money?”
How many jewelry designers have any idea whatsoever of how a stone
is comes into being for them?
My problem here, as a cutter of stone, is that I often get the
feeling that we’re considered kind of second class citizens and not
full partners in this jewelry design process. I suspect that much of
the reason for this is the basic ignorance of many metalsmiths as to
what’s involved in getting to a finished stone. How many jewelry
design courses even include stone cutting for instance, including
the acquisition of rough?
"Just give me the absolute top quality, perfectly cut and flawless
stone and give it to me cheaper than that outrageous price you’ve
put on it because I’ve got to make a good living out of this."
That’s the attitude I often sense. Yes. I know you have limitations
on your final price too. But couldn’t we work this out, rather than
you thinking that if you can get it from me real cheap you can make
more money off of it. I’m going to suggest that If we were closer to
partners, then we could both make a living off of it.
The other part of this too, is that I believe there is almost total
ignorance as to what the lapidary has to do in order to be in the
position to get that stone to you. Little thought is given to the
costs of production and the availability and affordability and
acquisition of the rough. Just to go a little further along that
line, because there is a direct translation between the weight of
metal purchased and the amount of metal in the finished piece of
jewelry, metal folks seem to think the same is true for stones. If
you buy an ounce of gold, you’ll get very near to that in finished
product. Nothing could be further from the financial reality of
stone. Frequently what you’ve got in your hand is a tiny fraction of
what I started with.
I could go on and on, but so this email doesn’t ramble forever, and
since I expect a bit of a reaction to it, :>) I’ll hold off on other
thoughts for subsequent emails.