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Reasons for getting into the jewelry buisness

All, My earliest memories of any connection with the jewelry business
were picking up stones in my grand parents place in rural Wisc about
42 years ago.It was my first rock collection.I picked the ones I
thought were valuable and put them in an old egg carton.I saved them
for a while and then they got tossed or something.We had six kids so
things could not pile up for very long in our little house.My parents
would need a warehouse to store everything six kids could collect.I
was raised in Chicago and my dad would come and pick my brother and I
up, after my parents were divorced.We always went to some place
special.One of my most asked for locals was the Lazardro Museum of
Lapidary art.It had some of the most impressive pieces I have ever
seen.There was a temple made out of Jade carved entirely by hand
including the chain link fence.The temple had to be about 3 or 4 feet
high,In the basement of the museum was a work shop where you could
watch people cutting gemstones.There were bins and boxes of stones
and rough material.I was hooked the very first day I saw the
workshop.When I arrived at High school I enrolled in a jewelry crafts
class and curt my first stone and made a ring.I was 14.After high
school I made copper jewelry and sold it locally after that I hit the
road and migrated to Colorado where I worked for two jewelry supply
stores doing repair and cutting stones along with some custom
orders.I was nineteen.Since then I have apprenticed and taken
classes and worked a variety of jobs and at 49 Iam in it as a career
and doing what I love Regards J Morley Coyote Ridge Studio

Hi all,

I have been creating something ever since I was a kid. Model
planes, boats, leather tooling, oil and water color painting and wood
carving. In the mid 70s 80s 99s I started creating large embossed
copper pictures. One of these pictures is three feet by a foot and
half. The copper is pressed from both sides and a relief is created.
The back side relief is filled with plaster, to prevent the design
from being damaged by inquisitive finger, then the whole assembly
is bonded to plywood. I was selling the original copper pictures for
almost nothing. I found that sometimes the plaster would fall out
of the copper and I would have a perfect copy of the copper. I
develope d a method of finishing the plaster to look like copper and
sold these for at a pretty good profit but the plaster was fragile,
making them difficult to ship. A friend of mine suggested I try lost
wax casting. I took a lost wax casting class at the adult crafts
center. I ended up making portraits of Indian and Cowboys in copper
in the shape of buckles, pour wax into the copper mold then I had the
wax cast for me. A doctor from New Jersey ordered 10 each of the
first 7 designs I had. That was it. I bought castin g equipment and
I have never lost interest in creating jewelry and silver pottery. I
taught myself how to carve and fabricate wax, solder, cut stones ,
inlay, fabricate mosaic stones and then started making fabricated
jewelry along with cast jewelry. In the beginning my jewelry
business was a hobby a s I was also very busy being an engineer. My
tools were what I had available. My first polisher was a buffing
whee l in a quarter inch drill held under my foot on a block of wood
on the floor.

The best gift I received from my family was an acetylene tank and
torch. As I found more outlets for my jewelry I bought professional
equipment. I was very fortunate in that my jewelry was a hobby and
not a family supporting business. I was able to invest in all manner
of equipment and create what I wanted to. I was divorced in 1980 and
could not create in an apartment so I had to stop creating for a
while. In 1982 I bought a home and set up my equipment. I had to
start from scratch as I had no customers. Being an engineer I had
always been fascinated by the label on the ferris wax box stating the
wax wa s excellent for turning but I never had time to learn the
process. Now that I was starting again I took the time to teach
myself how to turn wax which led to my creation of miniature sterling
pottery. Of coarse I had to learn a process that would use the
equipment I had so I used my fordom as a lath and tools that I found
in my tool box. After I taught myself how to turn the wa s I finally
read the flyer that came with the box of wax, the one that I had been
throwing away since 1975. Guess what I showed. How to turn a bell.
Fortunately I found outlets for both my jewelry and silver pottery
and I was off again. In 1986 I quit my engineering career and became a
full time starving artist. What a thrill it was to be able to spend
all my time creating art.

I retired on social security in 1999 so my creativity is back to a
hobby level. Many of us start by creating art for our family, then
our friends. At some time we have to find outlets for our work or we
begin filling our closets with our art. If we are lucky we will
find outlets for our work. I hope to be able to create things until I
finally check out. Although, I must admit it is difficult to look
forward to casting outside when the temperature around my casting
equipment is 112 degrees as it was Friday.

Like many women, my love of jewelry began at an early age. However,
it really blossomed at age 25, when I was hired as the lead crafts
artisan for Boston Ballet. At the time, Boston Ballet was the
fourth largest Ballet company in the US and millions of dollars were
spent on our productions. During that period, I made countless
tiaras and parures, in every size, shape, style, and color
imaginable. It was like being in wonderland! Due to the movement
and partnering issues involved in ballet, creating spectacular
jewelry for ballerinas is very challenging and radically different
than creating street jewelry–for example, a tiara must be flexible
enough to mold to a ballerina’s head, lightweight enough to be
unnoticable by the ballerina, and yet durable enough to collapse and
spring back if impacted by her partner’s arm–all of this while
looking as if it came from Harry Winston’s!

Unfortunately, ballet crafts artisans are also often responsible for
fiber modifications, which means lifting large amounts of water
(there are 8 lbs per gallon, and 5 gallons will dye two pairs of
tights). My career was ended by a fall from a fire escape, which
damaged my back and hip, leaving me unable to lift anything over 20
pounds. My recovery involved temporary loss of feeling in my legs
and many months in a wheelchair. My physical therapist recommended
remaining creative as a way to deal with the emotional trauma;
however, all of the “lightweight” medium left me cold. One day, a
neightbor who was a jewelry artisan taught me how to solder, and
from the moment, I heard that torch hiss and realized that I was
using fire to affect metal, I was hooked. It was the first time
since my accident that I did not feel helpless. I soon began making
what I refer to as “street jewelry” (as opposed to stage jewelry).
Even though I have healed well, I have continued to develop my
skills. I really love it, though I must admit that I really miss
making tiaras–must be some latent princess fantasy!

Andrea L. McLester

I couldn’t not get into the jewelry business, (although I tried very
hard not to.) I guess it’s in my genes. I am the fourth generation in
my family to be in the diamond business. I remember, as a young
child, spending time in my grandfather’s diamond cutting shop, and
being fascinated by the rows of machines, spinning and turning
’pebbles’ into ‘pretties.’

Hanging on the wall of my showroom is a framed receipt fom the year
1915, which shows my great-grandfather’s purchase of a 76 carat rough
diamond for the princely sum of $3623. I would much rather have the
diamond than the piece of paper, but it is nice to have the paper as
a family memento.

Later, I worked in my father’s diamond business in the 47th street
Jewelry District in New York City, but I managed to find other fields
of endeavor which helped me to avoid the jewelry business for years.

After moving to sunny California, and being laid off from the
Aerospace industry in the early 1970’s, I told my wife: “I think I
want to go to the G.I.A., in spite of the fact that it will make my
parents happy.” I got my G.G. in residence in 1972. I opened Lord of
the Rings in 1983 in the Los Angeles Jewelry District. . I have never
looked back. I love this business. While I don’t work at the bench,
I have helped hundreds or thousands of couples find the perfect
diamond and ring and I am dealing with people at a very happy time in
their lives. I cannot think of ‘work’ which would give me more
pleasure (well…maybe working at giving away money, but that is not
likely to happen.) David Barzilay, Lord of the Rings

I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t making something, or taking
something apart, or watching while my father worked on one
harebrained project or another, but jewelry never really occurred to
me until a lady I was interested in complimented me on the fancy
knotwork on my boat and said she’d seen such things done in precious
wire, in a catalog. That was in 1980 or so, and though I took some
time off here and there, I’ve been steadily improving my skills and
widening my repertoire.

I’ve never had a formal lesson in any jewelry field, just picked up
what I needed from observation, reading, and experiment. When I
manage to get something right, it’s a great thrill. When other
people like my work enough to ask me to make something for them, I’m
doubly thrilled.


Note to J Morley

Boy, what a memory whiplash!  I too was raised in Chicago, and

forced my family to make a pilgrimage to the Lazardo Museum. I also
used to hang out at Tom Robert’s Rock Shop on south Michigan Avenue.
In fact I still have bottles of Linde A and Tin Oxide from there, as
well as a number of beautiful geodes (which were more or less a
quarter apiece in those days). My father set me up with a little
stone lapping machine when I was about 14, and I spent many happy
weekends grinding agate cabochons. Don’t know how he could stand the
noise, but he never complained. Nice to read your post.

Richard Hyer