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Looking Back to the Future


#1

With the new film “Blood Diamond” and all the talk surrounding this
fairly common mineral, I have been thinking a lot about the value,
design and bru ha ha around diamonds. With the noise surrounding the
recent thread on David Yurman, there is another movement regarding
diamond designs.

While on vacation in sunny Florida, I came upon the magazine, “The
Robb Report”. Although Santa did not leave me a yummy new yacht
featured on several pages of this upscale magazine for the rich
famous, nor did I find a new Rolex under the tree or a new Jaguar
with a seat warmer, coffee warmer or state-of-the-art GPS (lovingly
called Agnes) cooing directions in a sultry voice directing me to my
new Tristar business jet, I do like to look at the jewelry ads and
articles. For me it’s an indication where the well heeled by their
baubles.

Two excellent articles written by Jill Newman discussed a Manhattan
Jeweler who specializes in putting together jewelry, but only if you
provide the stones. A white gold cuff with diamonds and amethysts was
priced at $38K.

However the article that caught my eye was the use of rough diamonds
as a centerpiece to finished diamonds which wrap around it. I have
been intrigued with this style of using rough diamonds for quite some
time and have been watching the trend closely. The first view of
rough diamonds I encountered was by Michael Zobel, and then most
recently, Todd Reed. There are two pages in one of my sketchbooks
which is called “Todd Reed” and “Not Todd Reed.” Because Todd Reed
has marketed his style so well, just about any piece of jewelry with
a square rough diamond with a bezel is assumed to be one by Todd.

The article in the Robb Report was on a new jeweler who uses
polished and uncut diamonds as a center point of attraction.

http://www.diamondintherough.com

I find this whole thing fascinating. One, several years ago, using
an uncut diamond would be risky and thought of “artsy” and
"unwearable". Yet now, this style is making its way into the
mainstream. SNAG meets JCK.

Although we all struggle with the kinds of designing we do, and how
best to posture ourselves in the market to make a decent living,
there are a lot of very wealthy people out there. Jewelry sales
always do well in recession. Instead of bitching about how one person
makes their wealth, use the talent that you all have. While JCK, SNAG
and MJSA Journal, Ornament, Lapidary Journal, Art Jewelry and
American Craft are all great journals, I’m starting to spend my time
looking at Vogue, Vanity Fair, Town and Country and the Robb Report
as an indicator as to where the wealthy are purchasing their
heirlooms.

For all of you looking at the Lark books and saying, “geez, this
isn’t wearable jewelry, it’s crap!” Consider this, the people who
take risks and chances creating “unwearable art” are watched by those
who take the essence of the art and put it into the mainstream.
Isolated portions of traffic signs have visually striking graphics.
In a few years, you might find a diamond set into a portion of a
traffic sign and a new generation will think it is “edgy” and “cool”.
We will have Boris Bally and Roy to thank for this, for it was them
who brought it up in the first place.

It doesn’t matter if the work is completely wearable. What isn’t
wearable today, might very well be turned into something fabulous
later. Contemporary and abstract art is like that too. If it’s not
literal, than why have it hang on your wall?

I hope in 100 years from now we will be remembered for our art and
not our banks or insurance companies.

-k

M E T A L W E R X
School for Jewelry and the Metalarts
50 Guinan St.
Waltham, MA 02451
781 891 3854
www.metalwerx.com


#2

Karen,

Sounds like you had a good vacation. Hope so.

I want to thank you for your insights on reading material and “art”.
The risk takers are most often the ones discovering new tricks and
relationships…materials and people. I have to agree with you.
Dang! More subscriptions to deduct.

I don’t have to like everything I see in the 500 this & thats, but I
am learning not to be foolish enough to refuse to learn from the
pieces.

I wonder what the neighbors thought when Eurygg (first jewelry
designer) put a Pteradactyl wishbone on a cat gut and hung it on his
shoulder, creating the first body ornament? (Good image maybe but not
historically correct.) Oh well. Happy New Year!

Bill Churlik
www.earthspeakarts.com


#3

Hi

I’m quite fascinated by this trend too, but am wondering where the
market is.

Last year, during the holiday show at the art center, the work of
Todd Reed was represented. None of his pieces sold though. I was
shocked. I had thought that he would do really well, maybe even sell
out.

The pieces on the diamond in the rough site are quite nice. There is
one drop necklace in particular that I would wear in a second. It
does bring up a couple of questions for me though.

When you click on the link “rough diamonds”, it brings up a little
summary on the materials." Their creation has taken billions of years
as the very same intense heat and pressure which formed our planet
also formed these extremely rare and unique stones". I had always
thought that, as a material, diamonds were plentiful. Here, the site
is saying the opposite. They did a great job on the marketing side,
but is it misleading? Are their diamonds rare?

I am also wondering if it is possible for someone like me, who
doesn’t understand the motivations of someone who would buy this type
of jewelry. It’s beautiful, that’s for sure…but the kind of person
who would actually purchase a piece is one I don’t think I have ever
met. Are they out there? Could I ever design for them if I don’t
understand them?

Thanks for bringing this thread back in a productive direction.

Hope everybody had a great holiday

Kim


#4

The first view of rough diamonds I encountered was by Michael Zobel,
and then most recently, Todd Reed. There are two pages in one of my
sketchbooks which is called “Todd Reed” and “Not Todd Reed.” Because
Todd Reed has marketed his style so well, just about any piece of
jewelry with a square rough diamond with a bezel is assumed to be
one by Todd.

Interesting that although Michael Zobel used rough diamonds and has a
style that is “not Todd Reed”, and probably was using rough diamonds
before Todd was making jewelry, because of Todd’s marketing, he is
better known by some. Todd has pieces that have fused gold filings
on sterling, quite similar to Zobel’s use of fused filings. If you
look at Reed’s and Zobel’s websites, the question I have is, “What is
the trade off between good marketing and work that can be perceived
as being derivative of another artists style?” I have seen other
artists use rough diamonds, and fused filings. The question is when
using elements that are used by another artist, how does one
incorporate so as to not be perceived as copying anothers style.
Reed and Zobel have very different styles, but somehow the use of the
rough diamonds and fused filings make for my questioning of how
close is too close. I personally have wanted to purchase Zobel’s
work, while I have wondered who buys Reed’s work. I congratulate Todd
for his success, I just do not find his style attractive, while
Zobel’s work is rich and luscious. Just my pondering, and of course,
my opinion.

Richard Hart


#5

Karen your are quite right- if you want to make jewelry for people
with money to buy, study what they are already buying. If you want to
sell to people without money you need to be in a different field.

Tom Arnold


#6

I am unfamiliar with both artists’ work mentioned in this thread, but
I believe one of the main reasons the use of diamond crystals in
jewelry has suddenly become popular has a lot to do with De Beers.
They currently have a very heavily advertised line of jewelry they
are selling in their retail venues that uses diamond crystals in it.
Certainly this is the reason that it showed up in the Robb Report as
a new fashion trend. On the other hand, some of us were using
diamond crystals in their work 25 years ago, and were either in the
future then, or waiting for the present so they could look back and
say they helped create the future.

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers, LLC
1780 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02140
www.spirerjewelers.com


#7

Richard,

The marketing standpoint of these two exceptional artists,
especially Todd, was to take the concept of a precious material and
play with it. I’ve met Todd, who is a very nice and quiet person who
just likes to make jewelry. He has done such a successful job at
marketing himself, that anything made in that style, which was not
his in the first place is thought of his work. You don’t find Todd
with his battery of expensive lawyers charging down the dress patent
path waving their letters of resist and desist. He just does what he
does.

However, this kind of fame has a double edge sword.

  1. When you create an acceptable and favored fashion style that you
    are known for, a hungry public wants you to stay in this style and
    not deviate. You are unable to pursue your own muse to maintain your
    income. How many times have the Rolling Stones played "Satisfaction."
    Say you go to a live concert of your favorite band and you paid all
    this money to hear your favorite songs from the CD you played over
    and over. The band decides at the concert, we will only play what’s
    on our new album. You are bummed. You didn’t come all this way to
    hear NEW music, you want the old stuff, because it is familiar and
    comforting.

  2. When is right to make the move on a new style of work without
    losing all your old customers? We as humans operate on patterns;
    driving is a good example. Once we know where we are going, our
    brains shut down and we enjoy the view. However, when we get lost, it
    takes all of our brain power to read the map, find the familiar
    patterns and get moving again. New styles of jewelry work are like
    that. But it’s not just driving to Grandma’s for Sunday dinner
    because she has moved to a new apartment, it’s your paycheck and your
    mortgage.

  3. The “out there stuff”. Creating your own “style” is the most
    difficult. If you are really successful at it, you can combine the
    best of your old work with the new. However, you can’t just make a
    180 turn, it has to be done in increments.

Do you keep a sketchbook/journal of your ideas, doodles and
concepts. If so, when you go back to an earlier sketchbook and see a
design, do you think it is old? In a buying society like ours, as a
public, we are always looking for the “new” thing. Certain companies
depend on it. You can’t just have an iPod, you have to have the NEW
iPod that has video and pictures and music. I have an old iPod. It
plays music. Period. But I digress.

I’ll ask you and the list the age old question. Why do we buy
jewelry? Is it for ourselves or others. Why do we wear jewelry, is it
for us or for others. Why does a brooch have to live on the upper
right or upper left of real estate near our necks and shoulders. What
makes a brooch a brooch? Can your waist wear a pendant? In the US, a
tattoo was usually worn only by sailors. If a woman wore a tattoo,
well…she must be a prostitute.

I love the Lark Books and I think they play an important part
marking our artistic history. They have provided an array of visually
exciting and interesting jewelry, adornment, what ever you call it,
scaled down to the size of our palm or sized up for a building. The
important part is what essence do you take from something outlandish
and make it wearable. I make wearable jewelry and also make objects
that serve no purpose other than I like them.

So, kudos to Lark and to Marthe Le Van. The jewelry book series are
visual dessert.

-k

M E T A L W E R X
School for Jewelry and the Metalarts
50 Guinan St.
Waltham, MA 02451
781 891 3854
www.metalwerx.com


#8
intense heat and pressure which formed our planet also formed
these extremely rare and unique stones". I had always thought that,
as a material, diamonds were plentiful 

At this point in time, they are something between rare and plentiful

  • certainly there’s no shortage of industrial diamonds. My own theory
    is that diamonds are probably common in the universe. Carbon,
    pressure and heat are everywhere - the elements of diamond. It could
    even be that the core of Jupiter or some such planet is diamond.
    Methane + pressure + heat = diamond, theoretically, anyway.

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com


#9

Karen,

When you create an acceptable and favored fashion style that you
are known for, a hungry public wants you to stay in this style and
not deviate. You are unable to pursue your own muse to maintain your
income.

First of all, I think the above quote is relevant in one context,
and it is the context of doing something from a business standpoint,
creating a body of work, and marketing that to provide income. There
are people who have to do what they do, as would be said, from the
heart or from their soul. These people follow their muse from a
determination and/or need to satisfy some internal drive that has no
relation to their financial well being.

I have an artist friend, in his 60"S who travels the world, works
when he wants to, does not work when he does not feel like it, has no
health care, has no retirement. All of his work is one of a kind, he
never does the same piece twice.

The concept of being “unable to pursue your own muse to maintain
your income” is interesting. Some people follow their muse like the
rest of us breathe. Try and stop breathing, and you will take a
breathe when you start to feel suffocated, to some, to not follow
their muse would feel the same. I personally can only do so much
traditional jewelry work, repair and custom, and then I have to do
my own art jewelry" or I get mentally uncomfortable and cranky.

Once I was in one world, traditonal jewelry, which I feel is
externally motivated. Now I have a foot in each world, but I am
moving toward all “art jewelry”, which I feel is internally
motivated. I am comforable where I am, but I would be happier if I
was expressing myself completely from my internal motivation, I get
much more satisfaction from working from that place.

Second, I think you completely missed the major point of my post. I
have Michael Zobel’s book, and as I look through it and look at his
style and use of materials, and since he has been doing what he has
been doing long before Todd Reed began making jewelry, I could get
the impression that Todd Reed took elements of technique and/or use
of materials and created a body of work based on Zobel’s work. I am
not saying he did, I am asking a question, how close to another
artists style, technique, or use of materials can one get before it
is seen as derivitive. Being able to market work more effectively
does not make the work less derivitive. I personally feel that it can
be a touchy subject to bring up, as ma= ny are faced with the
dilemma, as in, after you take a class from someone, how do you take
the technique you learned and create work that does not look like the
work of the person you study with.

Richard Hart


#10

Hi Gang

Speaking of using common objects, e.g.: uncut diamonds, in
jewellery, we just have to take a look at Charles Lewton-Brain’s work
where he does a whole series of pendants/brooches using welded steel
wire that is Gold plated and usually has a nature tumbled common
beach rock inside to see. The stones alone have no value but when
added to this jewellery adds to the intrinsic value.

Karen Bahr - Karen’s Artworx
Calgary, Alberta, Canada


#11

Richard

I personally feel that it can be a touchy subject to bring up, as
many are faced with the dilemma, as in, after you take a class
from someone, how do you take the technique you learned and create
work that does not look like the work of the person you study
with.

I too faced this dilemma when I had finished my first class of
learning to make silver jewellery. One lesson learned in class was my
first ring, a now simple split-shank ring with a cabochon 7mm stone
my boyfriend had cut out of some Holly Blue Agate. By the time I had
put the ring together and set the stone the bezel was pitted and
looked awful. I showed this to Mike, nearly in tears, and asked what
to do. He simply put a round burr into the Foredom and gently added
to the dents around the stone so it had a pattern while explaining
that even if it was not originally planned there are ways to make it
look like it was planned.

After finishing this and a couple of more classes with Mike I found
that my jewellery was looking a lot like his style of jewellery which
was distinctive enough that even I recognized it as such. So I went
and took some more classes by other teachers and learned other styles
and techniques and developed my own style. This style by the way, is
ever evolving as I experience more, learn more and understand more
about both the world around me and myself.

Karen Bahr - Karen’s Artworx
Calgary, Alberta, Canada


#12

Richard,

Second, I think you completely missed the major point of my post." 

I didn’t’ miss the point, but I don’t think I articulated it well. I
don’t have the Michael Zobel book, only a few pictures here and
there, so it’s difficult to comment. But I do understand what you are
saying.

I personally feel that it can be a touchy subject to bring up, as
many are faced with the dilemma, as in, after you take a class from
someone, how do you take the technique you learned and create work
that does not look like the work of the person you study with." 

It’s good to discuss them in the open. That’s what this forum is
for, but you are right on this point. Fold forming and corrugation is
a classic example. All of a sudden I see tons of work in these two
processes and there are only a handful of people who teach this
technique. So when you see the work by a student of theirs who do you
think of, the person wearing the work or the teacher that taught
them. Personally, if you make a spiral fold form in Charles Lewton
Brain’s class and put jump ring and hang it around your neck, I don’t
find this at all original. Now if you take the form that you learned
in class, manipulate it, change it slightly, add a stone or two into
something that is suggestive of Charles’ work, is it your own or only
a derivation?

This is a tough subject for all of us that make work and teach. I
teach photo etching and resin inlay. For me, it’s a processes that
takes 10 minutes to learn and two days to play. What you do with the
colors, how you combine them is up to you. Right now I am looking at
Lalique (funny how that came up in another post), whose work I find
inspiring, thinking how I can adapt the fluid style of one of his
brooches by using resin inlay, instead of vitreous enamel, how
instead of using the enamel color of green, of what natural materials
are out there that are green. I do like the profile of the woman. The
piece is an enameled brooch, with two profiles of women with their
hair as greenish/bluish chrysanthemum petals.

Sometimes we design things that we think are so unique. I was
working out a design in keum boo with perfect squares in a round
brooch where there was a negative space between the squares. In the
middle of the brooch, the squares begin to separate and fall to the
bottom to imply movement. Last night I was looking at Daniel Brush’s
work, and lo and behold, there was the same concept. I hadn’t seen
the book in a year, but somewhere it stuck in my mind that it was
cool.

As we are visual people, I think we can’t help looking at others
work and incorporate it into our own. The important part for me is to
acknowledge where I saw it first.

-k

M E T A L W E R X
School for Jewelry and the Metalarts
50 Guinan St.
Waltham, MA 02451
781 891 3854
www.metalwerx.com


#13
All of his work is one of a kind, he never does the same piece
twice. The concept of being "unable to pursue your own muse to
maintain you income" is interesting. 

I’ll just make one statement that’s a little known fact. That is that
Faberge’s shop never made the same piece twice. Everything was unique
as a matter of company policy. It can be done.

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com