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Steven Kretchmer dies in motorcycle accident


#1

Those orchid members in close contact with the commercial jewelry
world may well have already heard this. Today, at work, my boss had
received several emails already, and a number of clients coming in,
also had heard this through the grapevine. So this is not likely the
first everyone has heard of this. And my own info is very second
hand, through that grapevine, not direct. But for those not so
closely connected with the grapevine, But it seems our industry has
lost an innovative and creative jewelry designer this last week end.

Steven Kretchmer, I’m told, died this weekend in a motorcycle
accident. I’m told some auto apparently stopped and made a U turn on
a basically blind curve in the road, and Mr. Kretchmer, on his bike,
was unable to see this in time to avoid a fatal accident.

Mr. kretchmer’s innovative work over the years is best known for his
line of Tension set rings, processes and alloys for which he held
several U.S. patents. He’s the developer of several unique heat
treatable platinum alloys, which allowed his tension set platinum
rings to enjoy previously unprecedented hardness and durability, as
well as the somewhat simpler similarly heat treatable/hardenable
platinum alloys sold by Hoover and Strong as their platinum SK
alloys. These alloys, by the way, also provided the
inspiration/starting point from which PM West (not connected with
Kretchmer) developed the currently available line of plumb platinum
solders which some of us have come to love. Kretchmer’s more recent
innovations include magnetic platinum alloys allowing him to design
rings that literally cling to each other without solder or other
mechanical bonding, and his earlier work included some of the first
examples of high quality mokume that was to be found in the
commercial jewelry world, including work with various custom colored
alloys, and some of the first commercially available work with purple
gold. Overall, his work has been known for it’s innovative metallurgy
and technology, high levels of aesthetic and artistic quality, and
impeccable craftsmanship.

Though I never had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Kretchmer in person,
I’ve known and admired his work for some time, and known many people
who have personally known him or worked with him, even including, at
one point, doing trade work for an Ann Arbor jewelry store for whom
he worked while a graduate student at the University of Michigan (it’s
a small world sometimes).

His contributions to our field have been significant and ongoing, an
inspiration to many, and a daunting challenge to his competitors. He
will be missed by many.

I offer my sincere condolences to his family and friends

Peter Rowe
Seattle


#2

To all,

Very sad news.

Jewelry Designer pioneer, Steven Kretchmer was killed in a
motorcycle accident this past Saturday, July 8th.

Kretchmer’s signature platinum designs often featured tension-set
diamonds and gems, inlaid gold, and, most recently, a secret formula
of magnetic platinum that appeared to float. His metallurgical work
also produced other discoveries, including purple and blue gold.

This industry is now without an amazing inventive, creative and
forward thinking designer.

Laurie


#3

Steven Kretchmer, the most visible innovator on the American jewelry
scene today, passed away on July 8, 2006 as a result of injuries
sustained in a motorcycle accident.

The son of Dr. Norman Kretchmer, a pioneering Pediatric biochemist
and Director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human
Development, and Midge Kretchmer, a modern Dance choreographer,
Steven began making jewelry in 1969. Although the Kretchmer bloodline
can be traced back several generations to jewelers of Romanian
royalty, Steven’s interest in precious metals and fine jewelry design
was self-initiated. He was driven by his own unique vision.

However, Steven’s journey into precious metal design followed a
complex path of exploration. His determined work ethic and dedicated
self-discipline have carried him across the globe in search of his
future, even bringing him to Alaska as a crew member of a fishing
boat, and earning him black belts in three forms of martial arts.

Throughout his journey, the world of fine jewelry and precious metal
always occupied Steven’s focus. In 1976, he earned his Bachelor of
fine Arts degree in Jewelry and Metalsmithing at the Rhode Island
School of Design. Steven then traveled to Milan, Italy, where he
worked as a goldsmith, learning traditional goldsmithing techniques
from master craftsmen. It was in his second year in Milan that
Steven met his wife Alma, the future Vice President and co-creator
of his company, and his stepdaughter, Claudia. “The sudden presence
of a family in my life forced me to steer my precious metal art in a
new, productive direction. They had become my inspiration.”

After living in Italy for two years, Steven returned to the United
States. He pursued his studies at the University of Michigan where,
in 1982, he received his Master of Fine Arts degree in the Department
of Metalwork and Jewelry Design. He then moved to New Mexico where he
worked designing and creating in his own goldsmithing studio applying
techniques and exotic alloys such as 18k mokume gane gold, blue gold
and purple gold.

In 1985, Steven’s unique techniques and cutting-edge designs earned
him first place in Contemporary Jewelry at the Santa Fe Festival of
the Arts. Steven’s radical metallurgical innovations took him to
Harry Winston Inc. in New York City where he researched, developed
and produced jewelry components made from unique golds, most
importantly 18k blue gold.

In the next few years, while developing his career as an independent
custom designer and goldsmith for various retailers and private
clients, Steven worked as a precious metals consultant to firms
around the world. During his time, he developed a number of patents
for precious metal product inventions and alloys including
multicolored layered golds and tension settings. In 1991, after years
of work and dedication, Steven Kretchmer Design, Inc. was founded in
Los Angeles, CA.

In 1992, just one year after his company was formed, Steven was voted
Designer of the Year by the Jeweler’s of America trade show.

The following year, Steven reviewed techniques, innovations and
offered production methods for manufacturers aiding in the promotion
of platinum with the Platinum Group International. During this time,
Steven gave seminars across the United States concerning innovations
and technological advancements in the field of jewelry design.

With the rising success of his designs and the growth of his company,
Steven found himself wanting distance from the big city distractions
and chaos of Los Angeles. In 1993, Steven and Alma purchase an old
stone schoolhouse in the serene hills of New York’s Hudson Valley.
Built in 1899, the historic building underwent three years of
extensive renovations before it became Steven and Alma’s Ringing
Metal Studios in June of 1996. A registered national landmark, the
large schoolhouse has offered Steven an isolated sanctuary where his
family, his company and his spirit could thrive.

In the open space of its new environment, Steven’s company began to
flourish. The unique and simple elegance of his patented tension- set
jewelry became increasingly visible in the national jewelry scene. In
February of 1998, Steven’s new general purpose alloy, Plat/S+ was
introduced at a national conference sponsored by Platinum Guild and
MJSA and became available to the trade. That June, the Contemporary
Design Group honored him with the Designer MVP Award for excellence
in design and leadership of his peers.

In the same month, Steven was listed in JCK Magazine as one of the 10
collectible designers most mentioned by a panel of top professionals
in fine jewelry including those at Sotheby’s and Christie’s of New
York. The panel named Steven as “a superlative jeweler who’s awards
for excellence, ground breaking designs, and fearless risk-taking
set the present-day standard for fine jewelry design.”

Despite the success of his unique gold alloys and tension-set
jewelry, Steven’s innovative mind could not keep still. In 2003,
Steven developed PolariumAE, a new permanently magnetic platinum
alloy developed for a revolutionary line of fine jewelry, including
earrings that exhibit amazing behaviors, such as levitation.

It did what Steven himself loved to do most, unify art and science.

James Binnion
@James_Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


360-756-6550


#4

I am so sorry to hear this. I met Steven several times over the
years. He was a close friend of someone I went out with. I always
admired Steven and his innovative work, both in alloys and design. I
have a lovely pair of hollow earrings that my ex made from a
platinum alloy that Steven licensed to Hoover and Strong some years
ago. He did it as a favor. My condolences to his family. He will be
missed.

Lisa, Topanga, CA USA


#5

This is a devastating loss to the creativity and innovation in the
commercial arm of our industry. Steven was a beacon in a bleak and
dreary landscape and will be sorely missed.

Frank Goss


#6

James,

Thank you for the insights to an amazing person. I had no idea that
he was into so much! Granted, tension mounts never caught my interest
but the other things sure did!

Bill Churlik
@Bill_Churlik
www.earthspeakarts.com


#7

I don’t think there were/are/will be many people who have Steven
Kretchmer’s unique combination of artistic vision and metalurgical
talent. I have long admired his designs and knowledge. His abilities
will not soon be replaced

My condolences to his family and friends.

Debby


#8

Steven was a wonderful person – a LOT of fun and creativity
entwined with a wonderful intellect. He enjoyed life to the fullest.
If I had to come up with a motto for Steve it would be “Work hard,
play hard… and love every minute of it.”

Steven will be sincerely missed by all of us who knew him and loved
his spirit, his drive and his wonderful sense of humor.

He is in my prayers and my thoughts and my sincerest heartfelt
condolences go out to his family and his lovely wife Alma.

I can’t believe he is gone.

Elaine Corwin
Gesswein Co.
Bridgeport CT


#9

I to never met Mr. Kretchmer personally, but I felt like I did being
in the jewelry industry and enjoying his very creative works of art,
and futurist ways of making it. I will miss seeing his work, it was
very inspiring.

Matthew


#10

With deep sadness and disbelieve I heard of the tragic death of
Steven. To me he was not just a friend, but someone who’s skill and
talent I very much admired. We used to call him “the Alchemist”,
because he took metallurgy to an entire different level. His passion
for life, his dedication to his wife and family and his many varied
interests made him a unique person. He will be missed by all of us.
My deepest condolences to his family and his lovely wife Alma.

Difficult to believe he is gone

Jurgen J. Maerz
Director of Technical Education
PLATINUM GUILD INTERNATIONAL
714 442 3103
909 263 6328 C


#11

I was stunned by the accidental death of Steve Kretchmer. His talents
were quite extraordinary and I was privileged to do a story on him
and his work for New York Diamonds magazine. I can only add my
condolences to those already expressed and to say that I share in
the loss being felt throughout the jewelry community as well as among
his family and friends.

Ettagale Blauer


#12

In Memorium
Steven Kretchmer
member of the American Jewelry Design Council

On behalf of the members of the American Jewelry Design Council, I
would like to express our deep sadness upon the death of our friend
and colleague, Steven Kretchmer.

It is very difficult to accept the untimely passing of this
relatively young man who was so full of life. Steven held a singular
position in our industry and in our hearts. He was full of passion and
brilliance, enthusiasm, knowledge and the desire to share what he
loved. As a metallurgical wizard and accomplished metalsmith, Steven
made significant contributions to the jewelry field through his
innovative use of process and materials. Steven was widely respected
as a leader in both design and in technology, as evidenced by his many
awards and patents.

Steven leaves a loving family, many friends and colleagues with whom
we now share a great loss.

Alan Revere
President

American Jewelry Design Council
760 Market Street
Suite 900
San Francisco, California 94102 USA
tel: 415-391-4179
fax: 415-391-7570


#13

Steven was a super person and one I always looked forward to seeing
at shows and talking to on the phone. We will be missed and a great
sadness as fallen on me today.

Andy " The Tool Guy" Kroungold
Tool Sales / Technical
Stuller Inc
Phone 800-877-7777 ext. 94194
Fax 337-262-7791


#14

Just passing this along, in case anyone would like to help Steve’s
legacy continue on to inspire new talents.

The Steven Kretchmer Memorial Scholarship Fund for Metallurgy has
been established in memory of Steven Kretchmer, master goldsmith and
metallurgist, who passed away on July 8, 2006.

Those who knew Steven well witnessed his passion and commitment to
the continued exploration of the convergence of art and science in
precious metals. He worked tirelessly towards the invention of new
metal alloys and techniques while testing the limits of physics with
his innovative designs. His passion= for discovery was boundless.

In this spirit, and in his legacy, the industry along with Rhode
Island School of Design (RISD) has created the Steven Kretchmer
Memorial Scholarship Fund for Metallurgy to provide ongoing
assistance to talented design students.

Benefactors and contributors to the endowment fund insure necessary
principal is available to provide substantive scholarships into the
future.

Please send all checks made payable to the Rhode Island School of
Design. On the memo portion of the check, please indicate the gift is
in memory of Steven Kretchmer.

For credit card contributions, please call (401) 454-6323 to provide
the necessary

The address to send payments is:

        Ms. Louise Parent Olson
        Development Office
        Rhode Island School of Design
        Two College Street
        Providence, RI 02903

Sincerely,
Cindy Edelstein
www.jewelersresource.com