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Definition of jeweler? - Modelmaker

  What they are Jeweler: Someone who sells jewelry.  Even at Kmart.
Goldsmith:  Someone who has declared themselves such.  Skill is
not required. Artist::  Someone who thinks that what they make is
Art Craftsperson: Someone who is not sure if what they make is Art
or not. 

Mr. Don Rogers, Your definitions were the funniest thing I have read
in a long time and I couldn’t agree with you more. Thanks so much
for that much needed belly laugh.

Now I have another thing that I would like to have defined by some
of you Orchidians that are in the production side of the jewelry
world or just have an opinion.

The term (Modelmaker). In my opinion, like other things that we all
have, is a very mis-used term in the world of production jewelry. It
has been my experience that most people that carve a wax or
fabricates in some metal with the intent of making duplicates for
resale calls themselves a “modelmaker”.

My definition of a “modelmaker” is first, one that can carve a wax
or fabricate in some metal a part that matches the look of the
original artwork and matches the weight parameters of the sales part
of the organization. They can also do a constructive critique of the
artwork in technical sense in order to enhance the function, not the
look, of a piece and to match the issues of look and weight. They
know, understand and apply the laws of physics with regard to
directional solidification and proper metal flow, if casting. They
apply proper geometry with regard to production stone setting and
polishing. In some cases they are also prepared to consider
chemistry where the alloy or some other production processes demands
chemical consideration. Most of what I would call a true
"modelmaker" came up through the ranks and have actually experienced
the production of jewelry firsthand. While it is possible, I would
consider it rare and not likely cost effective to be able to train
someone to be a modelmaker unless they came from a previous
production manufacturing environment. According to my definition, I
have only experienced a handful of true modelmakers. Most of the
folks that I have come into contact with have been very creative,
highly skilled, fabricators with varying degrees of production

The reason that I ask is because I have spent the past several years
teaching “technical model-making”. Very little time is actually
spent teaching metal fabrication techniques. Normally I am called to
companies because they are experiencing recurring defects that they
just can’t seem to run down. Normally there are the typical issues
that are related to their process engineering, routings, maintenance,
and equipment that are “relatively” easy to fix with a little time.
The real work tends to migrate towards working with the “experienced
modelmakers”. The concepts and considerations of applied physics,
geometry, and chemistry are not particularly difficult to explain or
understand. It is the term “experienced” that so often seems to get
in the way. Many experienced people seem to forget the paradigm
that, “if you always do what you have always done, you will always
get what you have always had.” If production facilities have
dedicated repair departments for their own production, then they may
want to rethink some of their “comfortable” things. So, I am asking
for your opinions and thought concerning the term “modelmaker”.

Best Intentions, J. Tyler Teague JETT Research
(Jewelry Engineering, Training, & Technology)


my two cents, to me a model maker has to know all the phases of
jewelry making in some sense in order to be able to function as a
competent craftsman. Then comes the other part. a good model maker
can do just about anything . a great model maker invents new ways to
do old things better. the best are curious and always think in terms
of what if . at least that’s what i believe. there’s also a feel
they get about a process and what to do that’s hard to explain and
sometimes a good model maker can’t explain what led to a particular
insight or idea it’s just there. that along with being precise ,
fussy and always aware that every file stroke - hammer blow or burr
cut changes the piece that’s being worked on and how that’s likely
to affect final production values down the line . not very clear but
like i said my two cent’s Dave Otto


Dear J. Tyler, after fifty years as a jeweller, including twenty
years and still counting as a jewellery teacher in vocational
education, I grow more and more ambivalent about the desire to define
and categorise

I regard myself as a professional - i.e. I hand-make proper
jewellery out of precious materials which will hopefully outlast
their wearer, but I have come to a deeper appreciation of what it
means to be a jeweller and I certainly wouldn’t constrain its
definition by the confines of my own practice.

“Jeweller”, like any other honest vocation, should include elements
of integrity and trustworthiness. Basic competence at what a jeweller
does is going to be specific to the type of jewellery made.
Materials? In this contemporary world, jewellery materials can be
anything that serves to adorn in one way or another. And now I’ve
just learned that the definition of “jeweller” may also include
"process engineers" via modelmakers. The definition just got a whole
lot bigger! Kind regards, Rex Steele Merten


Hey Tyler, I thoroughly enjoyed your post! I’ve had the words ‘Master
Modelmaker’ next to my name on business cards and resumes for 17
years now (the title was put there by others at first and myself much
later). I’ve often puzzled over the title- does 'Master Modelmaker’
speak of the fact the the pieces I make are the models that many
molds are made of then produced by the 1,000’s (irregardless of how
they are crafted in terms of production or aesthetics- these models
are the 'masters ’ in the sense that they are the pieces that all the
subsequent pieces come from)? Or does ‘Master Modelmaker’ claim
that the models are made by a Master (initially quite intimidating-
as I was far from considering myself as a master by some of the
criteria you mention)?

It is challenging carving and fabricating from artwork generated by
others or (argh!) designed by committee. 95% of the artwork that
graces my bench is unresolved on many levels the 3 view drawings
are more like drawings of three different objects- when lines are
projected from one view to the other it is readily apparent that it
is impossible to make the object depicted. Often the stones are
drawn with no visible means of support or any indication of how they
are to be held in place. Most designers I have come across have never
made a piece of jewelry (I find this astounding!) Many program and
project managers who are in charge of the models I make have no
jewelry experience. So to your list of job requirements I would add
technical rendering and educator.

I am expected to figure out all potential production issues and
quality problems and make models that come in at cost (often
unrealistic costs- leading to master models that are made .4 mm and
would never match my quality control constraints). Its part of my job
to point out potential long term ramifications of shaving half the
weight off a properly proportioned model (a model that is designed
keeping progessive solidification, flow, ductility, and durability in

I think our industry could use more competent production managers
to work with designers, quality control engineers and purchasing
agents before the artwork is briefed to the modelmakers. We could
also use a good book on designing and modelmaking for mass

Best Regards, Kate Wolf in Portland, Maine p.s. Im busy launching my
new line of tools and am not taking on any new modelmaking accounts.