What is Quality?

Have you read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance? It is a
book that addresses this question. An object may exhibit technical
perfection or competence, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it will
have Quality.

Rene Roberts
works in metal and glass

An object may exhibit technical perfection or competence, but that
doesn't necessarily mean it will have Quality. 

Really the whole point, as far as jewelry is concerned. It seems to
me (as I don’t know the man) that Leonid especially and perhaps a
few others on this thread are what we in the trade call “a
watchmaker”. That’s a good thing, BTW. In my last job before going
solo was the finest craftsman I have ever known. In terms of some
fundamental ability I would put him up there with our own inimitable
James Miller, though they work in different arenas. He was what we
call a watchmaker - meticulous, detail oriented, able to work to the
tiniest tolerances. The kind of guy who could file/measure,
file/measure, file/measure for hours on end and be happy as a clam.
And he could make anything on Earth, jewelry wise. The problem that
he had was that he wasn’t strong on design.

I, on the other hand, am not detail oriented, I’m design oriented.
I’m an artist, and my work is beautiful. That’s not a statement of
ego, it’s one of style. My colleague’s ultimate goal was precision,
and he was the model maker, where precision is needed. My ultimate
goal was and is beauty, and precision is secondary unless it’s a
precision piece. I was special order, where beauty is more often the
goal. If my colleague (King) were to make a flower, it would be a
meticulously crafted machine flower. If I did it, it would look like
a flower, or much more so. I learned long ago that I have neither
the temperament nor the interest in being a “hand machinist.” This
is all with the understanding that all work had to go through the
same QC system. My work isn’t “sloppy”, it’s about nuance. I pull
the design out of the gold till it is what it should be - that’s my
goal, not the measurements, which was King’s department. Although he
was head and shoulders more skilled than I - we’re talking another
planet, here - in some ways I was a better jeweler because of that.
People saw his work and said “Beautifully made”, and they’d see mine
and say, “Wow, that’s beautiful!” That’s the difference. We made a
great team, and were good friends.

In a similar vein, many years ago we had a private showing of a
Faberge show at a local museum. 20 of us got an hour’s head start
before opening - some 150 pieces or so, up close and personal. What
I walked away from that show with was the realization that they also
were design oriented. I was amazed at how much of the work was not
so great in detail. Much of it was “It’s meant to be on the
fireplace mantel, so that’s good enough.” Long distance viewing,
large scale work. Everything is relative.