Workshop Relocation

I can’t offer much info about Arizona, but I have been thinking hard
lately about the downside of the sun belt and retirement/tourist
centers. That’s because I’m about to sell my summer place in the
Berkshires (in NY about a mile west of the Mass border) which will
mean I’ll be a full-time resident of Gainesville FL, a thoroughly
charming, likable small provincial university town in north-central
Florida. The county population is only about 185,000 and lots and we
have about 50,000 full time students (not all of whom are counted as
they think of themselves as living at “home” elsewhere).

I know only one imaginative jeweler here, and she says that no one in
this town is interested in anything that costs more than about $20.
Designwise, purchasers around here are both timid and conventional.
Few social events allow/require one to dress up, so no one needs or
even can use a wardrobe of good jewelry. Retirees just don’t buy
jewelry, and students cannot afford it. I suspect these
characteristics are true of most sunbelt college towns.

I think that you should figure out what you will need, and then pay
very careful attention to the demographics. How large a population is
needed to draw 12 students for every class? How much sophistication
and money do the customers have to have, and how large a population
will supply that? Where can you find both the concentration of
population that is likely to provide the number of students you need,
and the amount of wealth and sophistication to assure the kinds of
customers you need?

My summer place is 130 mi north of Manhattan and 140 miles west of
Boston, and about 20 miles east of the town of Hudson on the Hudson
River. I would suggest you check out Hudson. It is a small town in
Columbia County which has been experiencing a renaissance during the
last 5 years or so. Col. County is big and still has many cheap
attractive places to live, but is considered very chic by
sophisticated New Yorkers. Hudson has become extremely popular in the
arts and has a very large number of antique dealers, some good
restaurants, and very a very sophisticated and largely well-heeled
population, many of whom spend days every week in Manhattan. Real
estate prices in Hudson have been going through the roof, but there
are still many attractive housing bargains within about 5 miles of the
center of town, especially if you do not insist on a Victorian
treasure to restore. Hudson is about 45 minutes south of Albany, so
there is access to suppliers, etc.

Boy, am I going to miss spending 5 months a year in that area!

Dian Deevey

Hi Ron; Sorry to have been out of touch with you about the stone
setting demo. I haven’t finalized anything yet with Becky Thatcher
about it, and probably anything I do for her will be along different
lines, like some anticlastic stuff and forging, etc. I think her
goldsmith has his nose out of joint about the suggestion. Funny
thing, he applied for a job with us and didn’t get it because he
lacked the stone setting skills. . .and he also didn’t want to be
anywhere where he wasn’t the big cheese. So why don’t we figure on
me coming down there and doing a run through on some stuff for you
and your gang. When you get a chance, make up a list of the stone
setting techniques you’re interested in and that way I can make sure
I don’t leave anything out that’s important to you. I figure we
could find a weekend and I could haul my kit down there and set up as
long as you’ve got a bench to work at. I’ve got everything else, but
my bench is a big, heavy, double thing that takes a couple
longshoremen to even get out of the shop. I’m still waiting on a
couple of crucial pieces of equipment yet. Should get it in a couple
weeks. That will hopefully give me some time to do a little more
preparation. My expenses won’t be much, and I’ve got a place to stay
in Otisville, which I think is not too far from you. I’m not sure
what I’d want for a couple days of intense instruction, but if you
guys can cover materials, we can keep it down. I’m just weighing it
against what I could make in a couple of light days of trade work.
We could do this one, I think, for $300 plus expenses (easily under
$100). Let me know how that sounds. Between 5 of you, it would
break down to $70-80 a piece. Let’s say $75 per person. We’ve got
to work out what we’d need to come up with in terms of materials.
For instance, if people want to prong-set a marquise, we’d need to
get heads and CZ’s, but we could use brass for shanks. I can bring a
lot of my work in process to demo things like flush setting diamonds
in 14K, but if we want people to get them in brass or sterling. As
for pave and bright cut, I can demo that too, but it would be
"challenging" to do it with CZ’s, so maybe I could only show people.
Come to think of it, I don’t know that I can afford to do it with
diamonds either, so we might as well take a shot at using CZ’s (pave
uses up lots of stone weight). Channel setting I can do with small
stones in my own work, but what would be ideal would be a chance to
carve the models, cast them, and have people set them. Almost too
easy in sterling, but you’d get the concept. Sorry to ramble on so.
If you want to call me, my phone is 231-824-6409. I’m home after
7:00 pm most nights except fridays.