Just a month left here in New York.
Before I know it, I'll be packing up my Honda and heading west to learn the craft of fine jewelry.
Often, when I tell people what I’m doing with my life and where I’m headed; there is a look of confusion on their faces. As if asking,
How did you come to this?
And then they ask it, but the story is really too long for the 1-2 minutes anyone cares to listen. So perhaps I should answer the question here...
It is my assumption that most people have little to No idea how the jewelry they bought or received last Valentine's Day, truly came to be. Where the stones came from, how they were formed, if they're natural or lab created; how the jewelry was made, who made it, how did they make it....? These are all questions most people don't need the answers to. But in my life, every question needs an answer.
It was back in early 2007, that I first took an interest in gemstones and Gemology (the study of diamonds and colored stones). At the time, I was broke, unemployed, and spent most of my days drinking coffee and writing poetry. I found some source of solace in a local New Age bookstore learning the basics and philosophical excitements of metaphysics - Astrology, Tarot, Numerology, etc. I was drawn to the mysterious meanings of things that I couldn't otherwise explain. Surrounded by crystals meant to cleanse the mind and body, I was more enamored by their rich colors, and mysteries “frozen” in time. Baskets of tumbled stones, led me to books describing their metaphysical properties. When friends were ill, I would bring them different varieties of Quartz and the belief that the stones would cure them. The more of these books I read, the more I realized most of it was bull shit. Back then I was grasping at straws trying to figure out who I was, and where, if anywhere, I was going to go. I knew the stones had one power; they had a power over me. I was in love with the stones, and knew that somewhere in their mysterious beauty lay the answers to my own mysteries.
While perusing jewelry stores, seeing the stones that I knew of, and others I'd never seen; I became aware of my passionate interest and my ever-increasing knowledge of gems and jewelry. I wanted to make something better…and knew that one day I would.
For a long time, I was simply Beading… I ordered beads and findings on-line, and sought to make unique pieces of jewelry. I taught myself a lot, but the more I learned, the more expensive this hobby became. I had become a beading snob; I couldn’t afford to make what I wanted to make, nor did I want to make crap-jewelry like a bored housewife. Around the time of that realization, I was speaking to a Jeweler in Huntington who told me the wise words “there is beading and there is jewelry… Beading will only take you so far, Jewelry Continues.” He told me of his apprenticeship, and that nowadays one becomes a jeweler either through being an apprentice or going to school. School?
One night, by candlelight (couldn’t afford electricity), I was reading The Book of Diamonds: Their History and Romance from Ancient India to Modern Times, by Joan Dickinson, with an introduction by Harry Winston. It was then that I first read of the Gemological Institute of America.
I found the GIA on-line at www.gia.edu and realized that not only was it the World’s foremost authority on Gemology & Jewelry, but that I could take classes on-line via Distance Education. The GIA thus became the fire under my ass. I found a job as a stock boy at a local drug store in early September of 2007. It was an awful place, but it got me out of desperation. After a month of stock, I knew that it just wouldn’t do…especially with the holidays approaching. With the recommendation of a good friend, I got a job as a bank teller. It was a stressful job, and the pay wasn’t excellent, but it was enough for me to get back on track, and begin my studies with the GIA. After I had started my courses, Gemology and Jewelry became my life’s main focus.
In 2008, I completed my first degree, the Accredited Jewelry Professional. It was a great sense of accomplishment for me, as well as a big piece of the puzzle, willing me to go on. Since then, I have continued with my gemological studies in an effort to achieve the Graduate Gemologist Degree – the best awarded by the GIA.
So now, in 2010, I am taking a break from studying Gemology, to study Jewelry in Carlsbad. It will be six months for the Graduate Jeweler degree, essentially learning to be a Bench Jeweler (punching & sawing metals, soldering, setting stones etc.) Then another six months for Applied Jewelry Arts, which goes into the design process, wax carving, mold making; as well as the more modern industry aspects such as CAD/Cam design software, and laser welding.
Even I find myself wondering how I got here…but I’m here and I’m still going. It’s a path into the unknown. Into the unknown crystal and the unknown craft.