How do we define beautiful jewelry?

This post is a collaborative effort, so I can’t take total credit for it. But I like the premise. Beth asked me to write a paragraph or two on what I think makes a beautiful piece of jewelry. She published it on her blog, and I like the way it turned out, so here it is:

The holidays flew on by again! Now we’re here in January of 2016.

A specific day in early December has inspired this particular post today. On that day, a jewelry magazine was brought in from the mail at work at John Fritze, Jr.. As the staff in the shop paged through, we came to an article that featured a shockingly ugly piece of jewelry. It was interesting because it was clearly a judgment of our own taste. And yet, we all shared the same reaction. What we all had agreed was a truly distasteful piece of jewelry was receiving an honor in a magazine with a broad audience of goldsmiths and others in the jewelry business.

This got me thinking about the concept of beauty in jewelry. How is it defined? If this seemingly unattractive piece of work was being featured, is beauty entirely and utterly subjective? I decided to get some input from the in-house pro where I work, John Fritze, Jr. As a goldsmith with 40+ years of experience, I knew he would have a solid idea of the concept of beauty in jewelry. Here is his response:

“How do people decide what is beautiful when looking at jewelry? Obviously beauty is subjective. What one person thinks is attractive, another person will look at the same item and think: “why would anyone wear something so f-ugly”. Certainly a Google search for “images of beautiful jewelry” will yield everything from simple and tailored to the grotesque and profane, but in someone’s mind the most ugly piece can be beautiful. Even the most avant-garde design can be interesting, or just another “train wreck” depending on the opinion of the person viewing it. And that’s OK.

As a designer, goldsmith, manufacturer (or however you wish to describe me) I expect certain parameters in a jewelry item in order for me to describe it as beautiful. I want to see some thought put into the overall design and not just something kluged together out of mismatched parts or ideas. The center stone (if there is one), accent stones, and metal should result in some sort of pleasant (or interesting) color scheme. I personally like to see an item finished nicely be it polished, engraved, florentined, hammered or brushed. The inside or the back should be just as attractive as the front. And most importantly the item should be well enough constructed to be wearable, prongs not catching or stones falling out. The metal should be thick enough to allow the item to suffer a bit of abuse without needing constant repair or even being destroyed. And, many times simpler is better. I like an item to be “timeless” and not made at the whim of the moment. Will the next several generations like the item that I made and cherish it as much as the original purchaser?

Looking through trade publications at articles touting this or that design by a “famous” artisan is sometimes shocking at what is considered good taste and workmanship. I feel a bit like the little boy who sees the king’s new clothes…”​

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Just a quick post

Several weeks ago I received an e-mail asking me if I would ever consider an apprentice….. Of course my questions to her were why would anyone want to work so hard, get so dirty and deal with the holiday stress? Being unable to talk sense into her, here is a link to Beth’s blog with some wonderful pictures about her journey, learning the jewelry business: Beth’s Blog


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WOW! Pretty Kewl!

The other day I received an e-mail out of the blue, telling me that I have been awarded some kind of recognition for my jewelry blog. Me? Out of the hundreds on the internet, mine caught someone’s attention. Kewl! Being a bit skeptical I decided to look at the sender and his page and noticed several web sites I have looked at over the years by other bloggers, and it looks pretty legit. Double Kewl! The fellow’s name is Paul Gian, and he is offering a free E-Book on how not to get ripped off when buying a diamond. The title of the book is curiously enough: “Don’t Get Ripped Off When Buying Diamonds”. I am a HUGE believer in educating the public on gem stones and jewelry. I always spend at least and hour talking about diamonds before I even will show one to a prospective buyer, after all I am also a GIA graduate. I look at Paul’s book and I am pretty impressed! There are a few fine points I might dispute, but really overall there is a wealth of useful info and it is written like a dialog and not a text book. It is worth the download and the read.

I have been considering writing a blog or two (or more) about diamonds and this might just entice me to do it. It is a huge and interesting topic, and just like the chapters in Paul’s book, I will need to break it into sections. Diamonds are the most commonly purchased gem either as a center stone to a jewelry item or as accent stones in sculpted metal or to another colored stone.

Anyway, here is the award:

60 best diamond blogs online

And if you are interested in some other blogs and web sites who were also recognized check out Paul Gian’s page: BEYOND THE 4Cs

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All those fancy designers!

There are literally thousands of jewelry designers worldwide. Designers and artisans who do tremendous and beautiful work. Designers who pay attention to every detail producing a jewelry item that is truly a work of art. Designers who spend weeks or months making just one spectacular piece of jewelry, many times for the wealthiest people on the planet. Other designers, not so much.

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Where is the Jewelry Business Headed?

In recent years it has become common to see pieces of jewelry offered in metals such as tungsten, stainless steel and porcelain. I do not consider a titanium bracelet set with teeny tiny diamonds anything more than a novelty item. Except for the most basic of repairs, jewelry made from these “industrial” metals for the most part can not be serviced. Sure, I can purchase a $40,000 laser welder to make a spot weld here or there, but at what cost to the consumer? The entire item cost less than one tack weld. Sadly our disposable society has reached into the jewelry business.

We have hit a new low however. Recently I found out Rio Grande, a major jewelry findings supplier is now offering aluminum parts. Are you kidding me? Aluminum? Isn’t that the stuff they put cheap beer in? The current price of aluminum is $.85 per pound, hardly a precious metal.

Googling “aluminum jewelry findings” yields several Chinese manufacturers selling jewelry made in aluminum. I found finished wedding bands for $.45 each. That’s real commitment, spending the rest of your life with that one special person you love for forty five cents!

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We Dodged a Bullet, for now….

Albany County legislators recently tried to pass a ruling dubbed “The Pawn Law” whose purpose was to curb crime and the sale of stolen jewelry items to businesses that purchase gold. The law written by Gary Domalewicz is simply another example of how our legislators believe they are part of some elitist society whose job it is to protect us from ourselves. While it is politically incorrect to say this was a poorly conceived idea which would serve no purpose, it is obvious to me, Mr. Domalewicz clearly has no idea of how business works.

Foremost, it is important to correct the term “Pawn Law” and note that there are no pawn shops in Albany. The term “pawn” means that someone will loan you some money based on the value of an item you have. Your obligation is to pay back the loan with interest within a certain time limit; otherwise the pawn shop can sell your item to recoup expenses. While other areas nationwide have these types of businesses,

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Yikes! Spring 2012 already!

So I haven’t posted here in a really long time. For that I apologize but I have been so busy with the Computer Aided Design (CAD) of jewelry that another several hours of writing for my blog was looking daunting. The CAD thing is really taken off. I am getting referrals and I have been working with a couple of local jewelers producing unusual “one off” designs. During last August, I visited Moline, Illinois (you know, the home of that Green farm tractor company) for further training on the Matrix software. At the same time I also learned how Continue reading

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Christmas 2011, in a poor economy

So what was this past Christmas like? With an economy in the dumps, gold at record highs, and an uncertain future, people were finding it hard to just be extravagant. Since most of my inventory is custom made gold and platinum jewelry with genuine stones and only a small amount of nicely made silver items, sales were not as prolific as normal. I’m sure other goldsmiths such as me, found themselves in the same situation. The funny thing is that Continue reading

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So where have I been all week????????

I’m sure some customers have been looking for me.  When I spoke to my secretary by
phone, she told me she was extremely busy.    Customers coming and going, and asking “Where’s John”?

The answer to that question, begins with this thought: I see on posts, blogs and advertisements all the time ‘master jeweler’ on premises. That’s just not the case at my shop.  I tell my customers (kind of tongue in cheek) that I am just learning. Continue reading

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Why does white gold sometimes look yellow?

This is a question I am asked almost everyday.  Particularly since today the white metals are very popular.  No only has white gold become the metal of choice for the younger generation, but there has been a resurgence in platinum and silver.  Palladium jewelery has become relatively common too.  I am even seeing esoteric blends such as P4 a patented alloy, which is consists of silver, palladium, gold and platinum.  Without question though, white gold is the metal asked for the most.  But why does it yellow after a while? Continue reading

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