Don, The difference here is in how you saw yourself as a jeweler. I
don’t believe you saw yourself as a designer but as a craftsperson.
This is not an insult and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that
perception. The man who taught me to make jewelry used to say that
the difference between an artist and a craftsperson was that an artist
could make one but a craftsperson could make a pair. (As it happens,
he was both an artist and a craftsperson.) There has always been room
for and a need for both types of jewelers and for any that could cross
the barrier lines and be both of these things.
However, when someone has seen my work somewhere and comes to me to
execute a design based on the scope and breadth of the designs that I
have done and do, then when I physically design and make the piece for
them it is my design. It will always reflect something of my design
and craft work. I will use the colors and textures of gold that I use
on my other work that distinguishes it as my work. Ownership is
thereby imparted to me. If I viewed myself ONLY as a craftsperson
then I probably wouldn’t claim that.
To give an example of this: A customer comes in the store, looks
around at my other work and says to me “I want a ring with fig leaves
on it all the way around it with fig berries and a stone in the
middle”. I have to draw up the design, figure out how to make it fit
in the existing space, make the model and actually create a finished
textured piece with a gem stone set in the center. When I have to do
this, I have created the design. It is not the customer’s design
because they came in and told me that is what they wanted. It is a
part of me. It is a part of my body of work. I have performed both
the design work and the technical work. And as long as I have made it
clear to them up front, the design belongs to me and can be
reproduced. Well I guess we’re back again to what I keep saying. It
all comes down to proper disclosure.
Daniel R. Spirer, G.G. Spirer Somes Jewelers 1794 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02140 617-491-6000 @spirersomes