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Small Adventurers in the High-End Jewel Trade


#1

Small Adventurers in the High-End Jewel Trade Go to this article in
today’s New York times. See where independent jewelers are going with
upper end jewelry

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/27/fashion/thursdaystyles/27GEMS.html

Robb.


#2

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/27/fashion/thursdaystyles/27GEMS.html

Robb,

I took a look at the New York Times article. I guess, judging from
the accompanying photo, that crude is now chic. The bezels look like
something that my beginning students might do.

Joel

Joel Schwalb
@Joel_Schwalb
www.schwalbstudio.com


#3

I agree with Joel The piece is not only crude looking, but quite
ugly. O K. I know I am making an aesthetic judgment many may not
agree with, but I am sorry-- in my opinion, the piece is just
downright ugly.

Alma


#4

Joel,

I’ve not seen any work of the jeweler whose bracelet was pictured in
the article, but I can tell you that Tim McClelland’s work is
masterful. I had an extensive visit with him at his workshop this
summer. Believe me, none of his work could be executed by students
nor be called crude. The work is very much influenced by the best
design and craftsmanship of the past. The McTeigue and McClelland
web site is www.mc2jewels.com check it out to see what I mean.

Larry Seiger


#5

Larry,

I’ve not seen any work of the jeweler whose bracelet was pictured in
the article, but I can tell you that Tim McClelland’s work is
masterful. I had an extensive visit with him at his workshop this
summer. Believe me, none of his work could be executed by students
nor be called crude. The work is very much influenced by the best
design and craftsmanship of the past. The McTeigue and McClelland
web site is www.mc2jewels.com check it out to see what I mean.

I just took a look at the work of McTeigue and McClelland and, you
are right, it is masterful. It has no resemblance to the one piece by
another designer that was pictured in the New York Times article. The
Times article describes the designer as follows:

Judy Geib, a graphic designer, who has a studio near a huge
tortilla factory in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, spent 15 years
working for the architect Peter Eisenman before deciding six years
ago to turn an interest in making jewelry into a career. 

Here is the link to the article with the picture:

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/27/fashion/thursdaystyles/27GEMS.html

Do take a look at the picture and I think that you will agree with my
characterization.

Joel


#6

Hi Alma,

I know I am making an aesthetic judgment many may not agree with,
but I am sorry-- in my opinion, the piece is just downright ugly. 

Maybe it’s meant as a Halloween ornament.

Dave


#7

May be the piece is made just to give that effect. It looks like an
ancient work, and some people like that!

Just a thought
ekrem.


#8

Congratulations to Tim & Walter. Have known them for years. They
are, more or less, my competition having a small shop located at
south end of the southern Berkshires while I occupy the north end.
They get the traditionalists we get those who like a bit of
adventure.

Walter has several generations of experience in the high end antique
business, McTeague & Co., is one of the oldest wholesalers in NY and
his contacts have helped propel the team into the traditional high
end trade. They come out of a traditionalist background and Tim’s
work is of the highest qualiity.

When clients buy gems in the high five, six and seven figures they
tend to become conservative. They become concerned that the piece of
jewelry to be made around these gems is not faddish or trendy. My
response is to suggest that the settings are merely transitory. I
tell them stories, true stories by the way, of the titled families of
Europe passing down gems that are reset for the next generation
noting that these great families rarely sell stones and in this way
retain their value over the generations. Still, the high end is
generally the conservative end.

Sounds like Walter and Tim are on to bigger and better things.

Richard

www.rwwise.com

For Information and sample chapters from my new book:


#9

Fello craftspeople,

My first impression of the article in the New York times was that it
was a joke, but then I think back to what has happened to the so
called modern art scene over here in the UK. An artist can make a
fortune out of selling an unmade bed as art, or a garden shed as an
art instalation. The old fairy tale "The Emperors New Clothes " comes
to mind! I think the media thinks it can control fashion and taste in
some circumstances. I am not sure whether the jeweller who mad the
actual promoted piece is capable of quality and has just pandered to
a customer’s request, but I am sure the customer would not buy a car
that was not built right, so why buy jewellery that is so obviously
built so crudely. I like to think that my work will survive the test
of time, it may not be to the taste of those who would buy a Hoover
and display it in a case and call it an art investment. I remember
one interesting fact in my career, one of the UK’s greatest collector
of modern art, the man who actually bought the unmade bed, wanted a
gift for his parent’s golden wedding, I made that gift and it was a
golden rose that looked like a rose.

I just wish that the media would promote quality and craftmanship as
much as it promotes tat.

If anyone wants to see my work its on the orchid gallery
http://www.ganoksin.com/orchid/jmdesign.htm

James Miller an English goldsmith.


#10

Did anyone actually think that she messed up those bezels? The
overall crude look of the piece is intentional, which I can actually
respect. The medium should be explored and used in as many different
ways possible. It is frustrating to see goldsmiths get arrogant
because they think things are done the “wrong” way-- there is no
such thing.


#11

I’m probably one of the few people who actually liked the piece, but
then again I’m very eclectic in my jewelry styles. I will say,
however, that some of the bezels gave me pause for concern. One good
sweater snag on some of the rough edges and out those stones will
come.

A piece can still look primitive/intentionally distressed without
having to worry about wearability if designed & executed properly.

Just my 2 cents.

Tracy
Tracy’s Treasures


#12

I’ve only read some few parts of this thread. The problem with it is,
I think, that since the NEW YORK TIMES {fireworks} calls it high end
jewelry, then somehow it is. Except that that simply is not true. Go
to cartier.com, graff.com, kwiat.com, gautier.com,
chopard.com… The bracelet in question is fashion jewelry,
and of course it’s a society thing, and trends, and all of that.
Happens every day. S’not what you know, etc.


#13

Joel,

Do take a look at the picture and I think that you will agree with
my characterization.

My opinion of jewelry is tainted. If anyone is going to spend $10,000
on any piece of jewelry, it should be spent on mine! :slight_smile:

Larry


#14

When I was in graduate school a thousand years ago, I had a friend
who’s Master’s thesis show was entitled “Art and Artifice”. this
thread and so many others seem to deal with this issue time and
again. It is an interesting one. I don’t have the answer because I
think there isn’t one. Aesthetics are the realm of intellect, it has
nothing to do with technique.

I personally hate most of Picasso’s work and feel that he became a
hack. However, he opened the door to an aesthetic in art which has
changed the way people think. I made abstract expressionist jewelry
for years. crumbly bezels, snippets of old French horns lead
soldered onto weird shaped pieces of copper, etc. I think what
happens [at least for me] is that as you grow in your creativity, you
may develop a love for the technical aspects of jewelry design. I
fell in love with “the perfect stone” and all of the other things
that jewelry is often about. I think that as we see more, we want to
expand our ideas and techniques as we grow. Now I do Cad generated
highly accurate work in high karat gold. Was some of my earlier work
good? Yes, is all of my present work good?, not yet. But, I keep
trying to improve my techniques because now my work is about
technique and perfection of form. Earlier it was about emotion and
exuberant creativity. There is room on the planet for both of these
expressions. Price has nothing to do with it. If a customer will pay
$1,111,111.00 for a crappy Picasso or a "crappy’ piece of jewelry its
their money and their aesthetic choice. Dennis


#15

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/27/fashion/thursdaystyles/27GEMS.html

This line within the New York Times ariticle says it all and gives
me a great deal of hope:

“Yet it is worth noting that the appetite for ornaments with more to
recommend them than renderings of corporate logos in gold or
diamonds seems to be on the rise.”

I agree that the piece photographed leaves a great deal to be
desired.

Mr. McClellands pieces are fantastic! And, thank you, Mr. McClelland
for saying: “a little more discreet than 50 Cent’s cross.” I
personally, can’t wait for “Jacob the Jeweler” to fade away.


#16
Did anyone actually think that she messed up those bezels? The
overall crude look of the piece is intentional, which I can
actually respect. The medium should be explored and used in as many
different ways possible. It is frustrating to see goldsmiths get
arrogant 

I checked out the Times and viewed both the piece and read the
article. There was a huge disconnect between the piece pictured, and
the jewelers who were featured as having found their niche. The
bracelet may be constructed to mimic what I call the "archeology"
technique–crude setting, rough unfinished surfaces, etc., and there
is a picture of the maker herself, in her studio. But the article
focuses on those 2 gentlemen who have many years of fine, high
quality work between them, in a more traditional vein. Frankly, aside
from the pictures, her work isn’t mentioned again.

We have visited issues of professional vs. hobbyist (for fun)
jewelers here before. There is room for all to grow and be at a level
of quality that is satisfying, and hopefully, profitable. When you
take into consideration that the jewelers of antiquity had no power
tools, no buffer, no flex shaft or hammer handpiece, they have made
amazing art. Given that most of the commercial stuff all looks alike,
brightly polished, rhodium plated and covered with a gazillion
crappy melee, any individually minded person who wanted something to
express their uniqueness won’t be buying that stuff. There is a
market outside those the two extremes, and I cannot see why you
shouldn’t spend a little time and take advantage of the equipment, to
at least make a bezel snug and smooth. Pride in craftsmanship is what
I am talking about!

If you look at the JCK nowadays, there are no more articles for the
bench person, but lots of space dedicated to what celebrity is
wearing whose designs. The emphasis in our trade is sales, not
creativity. They choose to emulate and imitate, not to create. (Okay,
I know most design is derivative, but let’s try to bring out a new
take on things, not just make more of the same, only cheeper!) Kudos
to McTeague and McClelland for having found their space!

Melissa Veres, Engraver
@M_Veres


#17
Did anyone actually think that she messed up those bezels? 

Hi Sharon,

Good question. I wondered the same thing. I can’t imagine what some
people would think of the bezels used by one of my favorite jewelers,
Petra Class: http://www.petraclass.net/colors/1.html She was trained
in Germany, so I doubt that the look of her bezels results from lack
of skill!

Lisa Orlando


#18
Did anyone actually think that she messed up those bezels? The
overall crude look of the piece is intentional, which I can
actually respect. The medium should be explored and used in as many
different ways possible. It is frustrating to see goldsmiths get
arrogant because they think things are done the "wrong" way-- there
is no such thing. 

Well, yes, a crude & primitive look can be very interesting. But I
think that there are several problems that might compromise the piece
technically.

  1. The bezels have sharp points where they are folded over the
    stones but do not touch the stone surface. These points may jab or
    scrape the wearer, making the piece uncomfortable. They may also
    collect lint or snag fibers from clothing.

  2. The gapped areas where the bezesl do not touch the stones may
    collect dirt, grease, and debris, making the stones look muddy and
    dull.

  3. The stones might fall out of these merely partially-closed
    bezels. There IS at least one “wrong” way to set a stone: so that it
    might fall out. IMHO.

M’lou Brubaker, Jeweler
Goodland, MN
www.craftswomen.com


#19

Lisa,

Good question. I wondered the same thing. I can't imagine what
some people would think of the bezels used by one of my favorite
jewelers, Petra Class: http://www.petraclass.net/colors/1.html She
was trained in Germany, so I doubt that the look of her bezels
results from lack of skill!

She may have been trained in Germany, may not lack in skill, but the
piece cited in your example is UGLY, nonetheless. IMNTBHO.

Jerry in Kodiak


#20

M’lou,

you make some good points, but If we jewelers are going to ever
break into the ultra-rich, high end market, we are going to have to
suspend everything we know about why people like ourselves, the
unsophisticated masses, buy things. :wink: The people who spend the kind
of money that a bracelet like that costs aren’t like you and me. They
have so much money to get rid of that the rules are suspended. Let me
give you some examples.

The bezels have sharp points where they are folded over the stones
but do not touch the stone surface. These points may jab or scrape
the wearer, making the piece uncomfortable. 

Ok, first of all the affluent are used to being uncomfortable. They
wear stiletto heels or ties with starched collars all day. And really
have you ever had to sit on a wallet that was so stuffed with cash
that it just destroyed your spinal column? Why do yo think there are
so many chiropractors in rich areas of the country and none in rural
areas? It’s because being rich is painful, they’re used to it. This
also explains why there are so many plastic surgeons in Beverly
Hills. Rich people don’t even call it surgery, they call it “going
under the knife” they are so used to pain and discomfort.

They may also collect lint or snag fibers from clothing. 

Rich people would never admit to wearing clothes containing fibers
that snag. If the clothes snag they toss them out and buy another
$1750 sweater to replace it.

The gapped areas where the bezesl do not touch the stones may
collect dirt, grease, and debris, making the stones look muddy and
dull. 

The affluent are never anywhere near dirt, grease and debris. Why do
you that Paris Hilton show was so funny. Rich people never go near
the stuff. And if for some reason the bracelet did get dirty, say
they loaned it out for a Katrina charity event, the store just sends
it back to the artist for several weeks. When it comes back, the
owner just throws it in the back of the drawer with the Faberge eggs
and Cartier cigarette case.

The stones might fall out of these merely partially-closed bezels.
There IS at least one "wrong" way to set a stone: so that it might
fall out. IMHO. 

So a stone falls out, that’s why they pay their lawyers all those
contingent fees. That’s also why stores like the ones listed in the
Times article charge so much for their merchandise. It’s not that
they are greedy, they know that their clients demand to pay
outrageous amounts of money for unnecessary, frivolous items. To do
otherwise would compromise their clients sense of worth. I mean if
they had to pay a normal markup they would feel insulted and debased,
ordinary and pedestrian you might say.

My advise is for all on orchid who want to play in this market is to
go out and get some ultra rich friends. You’ll learn a lot and make a
lot more money that hanging out with your current lower middle class
friends who can’t afford to buy your work.

All in good fun,

Larry
who isn’t signing his last name so it can’t be held against him if
someone googles him