Tuesday, November 22, 2011

International Art Jewelry Exhibition Opens

The exhibition International Art Jewelry:1895-1925 has opened at The Forbes Galleries, New York City and will run through March17, 2012.

The following is partially excerpted from the catalog essay:

Towards the end of the 19th century and in stark contrast to the dark and heavily ornamented world of the Victorian era, a new design aesthetic emerged. It was to survive for roughly 30 years until surpassed by the strong linearity of the Art Deco period. This new artistic direction emerged in many countries around the world although the impetus for it varied in each nation. It was at once a reaction against the strictures of the present and a look forward to the beginning of a new century, though it also incorporated references to the past.

Jewelry, like all of the decorative arts, provided the opportunity for exploration and experimentation, and often expanded the boundaries of mainstream design. The new art jewelry was initially meant to be worn and appreciated by a select group of people with artistic tastes, but as the movement’s popularity grew, commercial versions were produced increasing availability. Today, even the more commercial output is recognized for its elegant design and is widely collected.

The historical, political, and social events that influenced the change in design direction differed in each country, as did the materials, techniques, and motifs employed. And yet there is a common thread running through art jewelry of the early twentieth century that unites the movements. Referred to by a number of different names: Arts and Crafts (Great Britain, United States), Glasgow Style (Scotland), Art Nouveau (France, Belgium, United States),

The goal of this exhibition is to show both the enormous range of pieces made during this period as well as the relationship between the various art jewelry/design reform movements in many countries in the early 20th century.

The hope is that by viewing many of these pieces together it will actually help to blur the lines...to show that they are part of a whole rather than distinctly separate movements or styles. The jewelry and objects in this show were created by artisans in many countries who were anxious to produce something fresh and new using their own backgrounds.

Catalogs are available for $30...email elyse@jewelryandrelatedarts.com.

Friday, July 15, 2011



The Inaugural Exhibition Jewels, Gems, and Treasures: Ancient to Modern Features Jewelry  Including Pieces Worn by Mary Todd Lincoln Four Millennia, Marjorie Merriweather Post, and Coco Chanel

As the saying goes, “diamonds are a girl’s best friend”—at least in modern times—but as the exhibition Jewels, Gem, and Treasures: Ancient to Modern illustrates, ornaments made of ivory, shell, and rock crystal were prized in antiquity, while jewelry made of diamonds, emeralds, sapphires, rubies, and pearls became fashionable in later years. The exhibition opens July 19 and runs through November 1, 2012 and highlights some 75 objects representing the rich variety of jewels, gems, and treasures that have been valued over the course of four millennia. Drawn from the MFA’s collection and select loans, these range from a 24th-century BC Nubian conch shell amulet, to Mary Todd Lincoln’s 19th -century diamond and gold suite, to a 20th-century platinum, diamond, ruby, and sapphire Flag brooch honoring the sacrifices of the Doughboys in World War I. Jewels, Gems, and Treasures is the inaugural exhibition in the MFA’s new Rita J. and Stanley H. Kaplan Family Foundation Gallery. The gallery—one of only a few at American museums solely dedicated to jewelry—will feature works from the Museum’s outstanding collection of approx-imately 11,000 ornaments. It is named in recognition of the generosity of the Rita J. and Stanley H. Kaplan Family Foundation.

“The opening of the Museum's first jewelry gallery provides an ongoing opportunity for the MFA’s collection to shine,” said Malcolm Rogers, Ann and Graham Gund Director of the MFA. “In this inaugural exhibition, visitors will see a wide range of gems that will both inform and dazzle in a beautiful new space that will allow the MFA to showcase its stellar assemblage of jewelry, which ranges from ancient to modern.”

Jewels, Gems, and Treasures sheds light on how various cultures throughout history have defined the concept of “treasure,” showcasing an exquisite array of necklaces, rings, bracelets, pendants, and brooches, as well as mineral specimens. In addition, the exhibition explains the significance of jewelry, which can be functional (pins, clasps, buckles, combs, and barrettes); protective (talismans endowed with healing or magical properties); and ornamental, making the wearer feel beautiful, loved, and remembered. Beyond functionality and adornment, jewelry can also
establish one’s status and role in society. Rare gems and precious metals, made into fabulous designs by renowned craftsmen, have often served as symbols of wealth and power. This is especially evident in a section of the show where jewelry worn by celebrities is on view, including fashion designer Coco Chanel’s enameled cuff bracelets accented with jeweled Maltese crosses (Verdura, New York, first half of 20th century) and socialite Betsey Cushing Whitney’s gold and diamond “American India Headdress” Tiara (Verdura, New York, about 1955), which she wore to her presentation to Queen Elizabeth II in 1956 as the wife of the US Ambassador to the Court of St. James.

The significance of precious materials in jewelry in the 20th century is explored in the exhibition, where several modern adornments from the MFA’s Daphne Farago Collection examine jewelry’s traditional roles in society. Among them are a 1985 brooch of iron, pyrite, and diamond rough by Falko Marx and a 1993 ring by Dutch jeweler Liesbeth Fit entitled Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend. (The Daphne Farago Collection comprises 650 pieces of contemporary craft jewelry made by leading American and European artists from about 1940 to the present.)

“Jewelry is a powerful cultural signifier, and the materials used in its fabrication vary considerably. This exhibition examines both traditional and unusual substances used to create some of the world’s most extraordinary adornments,” said Yvonne Markowitz, the MFA’s Rita J. Kaplan and Susan B. Kaplan Curator of Jewelry, whose position is the first endowed curatorship dedicated to the study of jewelry in a US museum.

Jewels, Gems, and Treasures
begins with a look at jewelry made of organic materials— substances readily available and easy to work with, such as ivory, shell, wood, and coral. These range from a pair of ivory cuff bracelets from Early Kerma culture in modern Sudan (2400–2050 BC) to more sophisticated creations made possible through the advancement of tools. Examples include a gold, silver, carnelian and glass Egyptian Pectoral (1783– 1550 BC) and a Nubian gold and rock crystal Hathor-headed crystal pendant (743–712 BC) recovered from the burial of a queen of King Piye, the great Kushite ruler who conquered Egypt in the eighth century BC. In addition to having magical properties that protected the wearer against malevolent forces, adornments such as these were often buried with their owners as their amuletic capabilities were needed during the arduous journey to the afterlife. On the other side of the globe, Mayans wore ear flares (not in exhibition)—conduits of spiritual energy—made of sacred green jadeite that represented key elements of human life.
Various cultures throughout the ages at one point believed that amber could cure maladies, coral could safeguard children, an animal’s tooth or claw could invest the wearer with strength and ferocity, and gold and silver invoked the cosmic power of the sun and moon. In Medieval and Renaissance Europe, many hard stones were believed to have magical properties (some were even ground and consumed), and pendant reliquaries containing a holy person’s cremated ashes or bone fragments were often donned, along with rosaries (Rosary, South German, mid-17th century), as sacred adornments. Even today, zodiac ornaments and good luck charms are sometimes worn as tokens, recalling their earlier mystical importance.

Throughout much of history, jewelry’s role as a symbol of one’s elevated status has inspired the wealthy to seek out stones that sparkle, gold that gleams, and designs that reflect the greatest artistry money can buy. To illustrate this, Jewels, Gems, and Treasures features some of the most opulent works from the Museum’s jewelry collection, including an 1856 diamond wedding necklace and earrings suite given by arms merchant Samuel Colt to his wife (the 41.73-carat suite, purchased for $8,000, is now valued at $190,000) and Mary Todd Lincoln’s gold, enamel, and diamond brooch with matching earrings, which she acquired around 1864, shortly after the death of the Lincolns’ beloved son, Willy, and then sold in 1867 to pay mounting debts. Also on view is a Kashmir sapphire and diamond brooch (around 1900); a gold, silver and diamond necklace made by August Holmström for Peter Carl Fabergé, the famous Russian jeweler to the czars; and cereal heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post’s lavish platinum brooch from the 1920s, featuring a spectacular 60-carat carved Mughal emerald surrounded by diamonds, which she purchased in anticipation of her presentation at the British court in 1929.

Also on view in the exhibition are superb adornments made by leading French Art Nouveau jewelers, which were fashioned for a wealthy and artistic clientele in the late 19th to early 20th centuries. The Art Nouveau movement, which originated in Europe, embraced an aesthetic that was avant-garde, sensuous, and symbolic—one that looked to the natural world, the Impressionists, and the arts of Japan for inspiration. In response to the “tyranny of the diamond”—the all white platinum and diamond jewelry previously in vogue—these elaborate, one-of-a kind pieces often featured colored gems and unusual materials, such as horn, enamel, irregularly shaped pearls, steel, and glass.

An example in the show is René Lalique’s fanciful gold, silver, steel, and diamond Hair Ornament with antennae (about 1900). The Arts and Crafts movement, which emerged in Britain during the 1870s as a reaction to the mechanization and poor working conditions of the Industrial Revolution, is represented by Marsh-bird brooch (1901–02) by Charles Robert Ashbee, who sought to create a delicate stained-glass effect with this piece. The refined techniques of the Art Deco movement are evident in Japanesque brooch (about 1925), incorporating platinum, gold, enamel, diamonds, rubies, and onyx. The movement arose after World War I and continued through the 1930s. It was influenced by avant- garde ideology, as was the Art Nouveau and Arts and Crafts movements, but instead chose to express its aesthetic through geometric shapes, linear stylization, and a return to platinum and diamonds.

Jewels, Gems, and Treasures also highlights a variety of interesting and unique pieces, such as a Suite of hummingbird jewelry (brooch and earrings, about 1870), made out of gold, ruby, and taxidermied hummingbirds; an ebony, ivory, silver lapis lazuli, and amber casket designed to showcase the amber cameos and intaglios collected by William Arnold Buffum (about 1880–85); an Indian silver and tiger claw necklace (19th century); and a gold, silver, agate, diamond, and ruby animal sculpture,The Balletta Bulldog (about 1910) made by the workshop of Peter Carl Fabergé Fabergé. In addition, the exhibition features jewelry as seen in William McGregor Paxton’s painting, The New Necklace (1910).


The jewelry collection at the MFA is one of the most comprehensive in the world. It numbers nearly 11,000 objects acquired through Museum-sponsored excavations, donations, and purchases made during the past 140 years. The collection includes jewelry from nearly every continent, spanning 6,000 years. Until recently, jewelry came under the domain of the Museum’s curatorial departments where it was stored, studied, and displayed. Then, in 2006, a jewelry curatorship was funded by the Rita J. and Stanley H. Kaplan Family Foundation and named in honor of Rita J. Kaplan and Susan B. Kaplan, mother and daughter, who are not only avid jewelry collectors but also passionate supporters of the study of jewelry history. The Museum’s collection includes ornaments representing a wide array of materials, techniques, and functions. Objects collected range from Neolithic Chinese belt ornaments of jade and excavated beadwork from Egypt’s Pyramid Age, to ancient Greek gold and American colonial and Federal-period jewelry. With the gift to the Museum of approximately 650 pieces of contemporary craft jewelry from the Daphne Farago Collection, the MFA now holds the most comprehensive collection of 20th-century studio jewelry ever assembled.


Named in honor of the generosity of MFA Great Benefactor, The Rita J. and Stanley H. Kaplan Family Foundation, the gallery’s creation was inspired by Rita J. Kaplan and Susan B. Kaplan, who are interested in broadening the understanding of the meaning and cultural context in which jewelry was made and worn. The Kaplan Family Foundation Gallery will enable the MFA to display in a dedicated space highlights of treasures from its world-class jewelry collection. Future rotations will showcase between 50 and 100 pieces, depending on the size of the works. Adornments will be shown in cases that create an intimate, glowing jewel-box environment, with special lighting to enhance the appreciation of the objects.


Complementing the exhibition is the 210-page book Artful Adornments: Jewelry from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, written by Yvonne features approximately 125 works from the MFA’s jewelry collection. With 200 color illustrations, this volume presents an array of adornments, from an emerald and diamond brooch once owned by the cereal- fortune heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post, to a rock crystal and gold amulet found in the tomb of an ancient Egyptian queen, and a 20th -century kinetic necklace influenced by the mobiles of Alexander Calder. Thematic chapters illuminate the many ways in which jewelry has functioned in society. Beginning with some of the earliest known manifestations of the uniquely human urge to adorn the body, the first chapter unveils magical jewels made out of materials believed to safeguard, heal, or confer special powers on the wearer. Ornaments that signify the wealth or power of an individual make up the second chapter, and, in the third, tokens of affection and remembrance are brought to the fore. The final chapters explore adornment as dress and jewelry as an expression of avant-garde art movements. Spanning five continents and nearly six millennia, Artful Adornments presents the variety and brilliance of the jeweler’s art from around the world and throughout the ages. Generous support for the catalogue was provided by Skinner, Inc., Dorfman Jewelers of Boston, and Michael and Karen Rotenberg. It will be available in hard cover for $55 in the Museum’s three shops and online at www.mfa.org/publications.

The famed Rizzoli Bookstore in New York city will feature the catalogue in their window beginning July 25th for two weeks.

Thursday, July 7, 2011


Thirty-five miles west of Key West, treasure hunters searching the shipwreck site of a famous Spanish galleon discovered a large emerald and gold ring buried in the ocean’s floor.

The crew that made the discovery has estimated its value at $500,000. It is likely that it came from the Muzo mines in Colombia and is about 10 carats in size in an antique setting.

Last year was the 25th anniversary of the discovery of the ship and the firm of Mel’s Treasures continues to search for the Atocha’s sterncastle, the rear part of the ship where the clergy, aristocrats and ship captain kept their valuables for safekeeping which would have included gold, silver and many rare Muzo emeralds. It is believed that 60 pounds of theemeralds were on the ship, some smuggled on board in a 70-pound keg to avoid the Spanish king’s 20 percent tax.

Discovered with the ring were two silver spoons and two silver encrusted objects, which will be examined in the conservation lab at Mel Fisher’s Treasures in Key West.

The find was within 300 feet of a gold rosary and gold bar that were unburied earlier this year.

Mel Fisher’s Treasures has been searching for the Atocha’s buried treasure since 1969; to date the company has recovered about $500 million in historic artifacts, gold, silver and emeralds. The firm estimates that another $500 million from the Atocha is still buried and waiting to be discovered.

Friday, May 27, 2011


There is a myth of the Civil War that Robert E. Lee surrendered his sword to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox, and Grant refused the traditional gesture of surrender. But the truth is that this never happened.

But in an interesting historic moment Lee's French-made ceremonial sword will return to Appomattox 146 years later, leaving the Richmond museum where it has been displayed for nearly a century.

The Museum of the Confederacy in downtown Richmond is delivering one of its most-treasured pieces to Appomattox for a new museum that it's building less than a mile from where Lee met with Grant to sign the document of surrender on April 9, 1865. This is where the Army of Northern Virginia formally surrender three days later bringing an end to the Civil War which left about 630,000 dead.

The sword, scabbard and the Confederate gray uniform Lee wore to his fateful meeting with Grant will be displayed about 75 miles west of Richmond when the museum opens next spring.

Senior curator Robert F. Hancock said the Lee sword remains one of the Confederacy museum's biggest attractions.

"It's a one-of-a-kind piece," he said. "There's really no replacement so you can't put a value on it. It's like putting a value on the Mona Lisa. It can't be done."

The scabbard is made of blued steel. One side of the blade, in raised letters, reads: "Gen. Robert E. Lee CSA from a Marylander 1863."

The Lee admirer who had it commissioned in Paris by Louis-Francois Devisme is not known.

The other side of the blade reads: "Aide toi dieu l'aidera." Translated, it means, "Help yourself and God will help you."

Russell Bernabo, a fine object conservator, was selected by the museum to restore the piece to its original luster. He considered 12 different samples of gold before settling on a match: 23-karat Italian gold in tissue-thin sheets, used to restore gilt to the engraved text on the blade, the hilt and pommel.
The sword was intended for ceremonial use and there is no evidence Lee used it in battle. Lee surrendered after his forces were blocked near Appomattox Court House.

The Virginian returned to Richmond after the surrender and then became president of what is now Washington and Lee University; he died on October 12, 1870 and is buried in the university's chapel.
Lee's descendants permanently loaned the sword to the Museum of the Confederacy in 1918. The family bequeathed the sword and scabbard to the museum in 1982.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

ASJRA American Jewelry Event Trip To The Original Miami Antiques & Jewelry Show, February 2012

The Association for the Study of Jewelry & Related Arts is offering a trip centered around attending the Original Miami Antiques & Jewelry Show. It will be limited to a maximum of 20 people. It will run from February 2-5, the dates of this famed show, which has more than one-third of the dealers specializing in jewelry...some of the top dealers in the world appear at this show.

This year, for the first time, the majority of the dealers will be located in one location.

The trip will include all entry fees to the show and some special privileges. ASJRA experts will speak to a number of dealers ahead of time to find out the important pieces of historical interest they will have with them, and we will spend time with them looking at these pieces and discussing them. You will of course have time to do some browsing on your own.

The trip itinerary includes a walking tour of the architecture of the historic Art Deco district of Miami, a guided tour of the fascinating Wolfsonian Museum of Propaganda Art, a visit to the extraordinary Vizcaya Museum and Gardens (the former Villa and Estate of business-man James Deering, of the Deering McCormick-International Harvester fortune, on Biscayne Bay), a tour and cocktail party hosted by the Miami Art Museum, a dinner hosted by US Antique Shows for ASJRA members, a reception at History Miami following a visit to their Map Fair, lunches for three days, and possible other events to be announced. US Antique Shows will work with us to get the best rates on quality hotel rooms. Travel will be on your own.

The price for the trip will be determined soon but if you are interested email us so that we may put your name on the list to be notified when details are firm.

Saturday, May 14, 2011


Officials are trying tofigure out how thieves broke into China's famed Forbidden City, the heavily guarded former home of the country's emperors, and stole seven art pieces made of gold and jewels.

It was the first theft in 20 years from the historic site, spokesman Feng Nai'en said. "For this to happen here shows us that we need to speed up the modernization and installation of our security systems. “ Guards saw a suspect fleeing the scene early Monday but failed to stop him.

An investigation found that nine pieces — all small Western-style gold purses and mirrored compacts covered with jewels made in the 20th century — were missing from the temporary exhibition, on loan from the private Liang Yi Museum in Hong Kong. Two of the missing items were recovered nearby and were slightly damaged.

Wang Xiahong, curator of the Liang Yi Museum, refused to reveal the value of the stolen items, which belong to Hong Kong art collector Fung Yiu Fai. She said that despite the theft, the exhibition would continue and other pieces would be added to the show, which is temporarily closed but expected to reopen soon.

Hundreds of thousands of rare and valuable pieces originally housed in the Forbidden City were secreted away to Taipei's Palace Museum when Taiwan split from the mainland during a civil war 62 years ago.

China still claims Taiwan as part of its own territory and insists the art at Taipei's Palace Museum rightfully belongs on the mainland.

Beijing's Palace Museum lent dozens of items to Taiwan for an exhibition in 2009, but Taiwan is still hesitant to lend China artifacts out of fear that they would not be returned.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Old Javanese Gold: The Hunter Thompson Collection will be on view at the Yale University Art Gallery through August 14, 2011.

In the early centuries of the Common Era, a civilization rose up in Indonesia that became a locus of trade, culture, and religion, the most impressive traces of which are found on the island of Java. Old Javanese Gold: The Hunter Thompson Collection features 200 objects—including jewelry, sculptures, coins, statues, containers, and accessories—from the Yale University Art Gallery’s collection of over 500 Javanese gold objects originally amassed in the 1980s and early 1990s by Toronto residents Valerie and Hunter Thompson, who donated their collection to the Gallery in 2006 and 2008.

Ancient Javanese gold artifacts display exceptional skill and art- istry and are a significant source of information on aspects of Javanese society, culture, religion, economy, and technology. The objects in the exhibition are organized into six groupings, exploring the artist’s workshop, distribution, religious use, indications of prestige and luxury, aesthetics, and gold used in a funerary context. The works range in date from the first century b.c.e. to the 13th century c.e. and present diverse styles and cultural influences. 

Highlights of the exhibition include a spectacular full-face burial mask, which probably would have been attached to a corpse; a repoussé kris (dagger) handle, in the shape of a demon; a crown top or usnisha cover, which may have been worn by a person or affixed to a statue; and a tiger claw necklace, which would have been worn by a young man of the upper class in the hope that the ornament would confer on the wearer the strength and courage of the animal.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Poultry Bones and Finely Wrought Gold…What Do they Have in Common?

The beauty of New York State’s Hudson Valley region has for hundreds of years inspired many artists who have chosen to work and live there.  Living within the immediate vicinity of the New Paltz area are a number of important studio jewelry artists whose work is the focus of an exhibition which opened to the public at The Forbes Galleries, New York City on Saturday, April 9, 2011.

But while they share the same environs, the work of these jewelers has a wide range in materials, techniques and subject matter. They range from a necklace made of poultry bones (amazingly elegant) by jewelry artist Sergey Jivetin, a delicate and beautiful brooch by rising jewelry star Jennifer Trask comprised of sewing needles, bone, rubies and resin depicting the flower “Queen Anne’s Lace”, and jewelry and objects by noted jeweler Pat Flynn which begin as forged iron into which gold and diamonds are fused.

Jamie Bennett, the preeminent enameler of the art jewelry world, is represented with pieces that are small paintings as jewel—with many having a second painting known only to the wearer on the reverse. Arthur Hash makes intellectual jewelry that brings a smile using high tech processes such as water jet and laser. Myra Mimlitsch-Gray’s work is represented not only by her beautiful chain mail rings and long chain necklaces, but also by her elegant table pieces in silver. Tom Herman’s exquisite jewelry begins with a gorgeous and unusual piece of gemstone material around which he creates a beautiful chased gold frame to create a small masterpiece.

This exciting collection of 115 pieces of jewelry is open to the public free of charge!

The Forbes Galleries, located in the heart of Greenwich Village, are tucked within the lobby of Forbes Magazine's headquarters in New York City. The Galleries are open free to the public 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. on Tuesdays through Saturdays.

In addition to work by the seven artists mentioned above there are pieces from the collection of the Samuel Dorsky Museum, State University of New York/New Paltz on display and selected works by students and graduates of the prestigious metals’ program at SUNY/New Paltz, many of whom have already started receiving recognition for their work.

“We are delighted to able to show the works of these well-know jewelry artists in one place, “ said The Forbes Galleries Director, Bonnie Kirschstein. “It gives us a chance to share their work with many New York residents.”

The guest curator for the exhibition, which is sponsored by the Association for the Study of Jewelry & Related Arts (ASJRA), is Elyse Zorn Karlin.  After several visits to the artists’ studios she was struck by the beauty, diversity,  and originality of their work, and the sense of comaraderie and artistic exchange they shared working in close geographical proximity.

A curator’s tour of the exhibition is scheduled for June 18 at 2 p.m. for anyone interested in signing up or one can be booked for groups of 10 or more by contacting Elyse Karlin at ekarlin@usa.net. There is no charge for a tour.

The Association for the Study of Jewelry and Related Arts, LLC (ASJRA) is an organization dedicated to the advancement of jewelry studies by individuals and in schools, museums, and institutions of higher learning. ASJRA takes a broad approach to the subject, seeking to understand and place jewelry within a variety of contexts including the decorative arts and fashion.  It focuses on all jewelry periods from the ancient past to antique to period jewels and the work of present day studio artists.

AJSRA publishes Adornment Magazine, a weekly newsletter, runs an annual fall event, numerous additional special events, and offers a number of other benefits. Membership is open to anyone who is interested in studying the history of jewelry. Yvonne Markowitz, the Rita J. Kaplan and Susan B. Kaplan Curator of Jewelry, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, is the co-director of AJSRA with Elyse Zorn Karlin. Further information can be found at www.asjra.net. The exhibition will run through June 25, 2011.

For further information contact Elyse Zorn Karlin at (914) 286-7685 or at ekarlin@usa.net


Monday, March 14, 2011

The Real Apprentice

An article written for ASJRA by…
By Dr. Stephenie Slahor
Notwithstanding the recent television show about apprentices, the “real” apprentice system began centuries ago. Those who created different types of wares, jewelry, metalwork, textiles and so on had an apprentice system that was strictly regulated and enforced through their guilds.
Parents usually began the process of apprenticing their children, with boys the most likely to become apprentices. When the child was about eleven years old, his parents would visit with a “master” in the trade and discuss the child’s abilities and motivation for becoming an apprentice.  If the master agreed, the child packed up a few belongings, and a small mat and blankets, and went to live with the master. Sometimes the parents paid a fee to the master for agreeing to take the child to educate him, but it is likely that some masters chose apprentices on the basis of talent they showed, too, so that fee may not have been a requirement for arrangement.
The master lived at his shop, usually “above the store” on the upper floor, where there were living quarters for the master, his wife and his own children. The apprentice usually slept beneath the workbench, but did take his meals with the master’s family. Apprentices were little more than servants to their masters so their “place” was the master’s shop. The master’s living quarters were off limits to the apprentice, and the master and his family were not to be disturbed there except for an emergency.

The new apprentice learned about the workshop, customer show room, and the storeroom, and where everything was located or stored. The apprentice also had to learn the names of the tools and supplies used in the trade.  
The apprentice was not allowed to visit any inns or taverns unless in the company of the master, or even the apprentice’s own family without the permission of the master. The apprentice was expected to devote nearly all his time to the work given him, and to do that work with his best efforts.
Little by little, the apprentice was given more training. Of course, starting at the bottom rung of the ladder of knowledge meant the apprentice often had the more tedious or strenuous tasks to do.  Exhaustion usually ruled by the end of the workday.  Most crafts demanded steady hands and rested eyes so sleep was important and the nighttime was for rest.
Sunday was not a workday. The apprentice would accompany the master and his family to church, and perhaps some diversion or activity, but, at sundown, the apprentice was expected back at the shop where his supper awaited him. 
As the years rolled on, the apprentice would grow more skilled at the master’s craft.  At about age fifteen or sixteen, the apprentice might be allowed to attend the master’s guild meetings, but did not vote or take part in discussions. The guildhall was a meeting place for those who practiced the particular craft of that guild. Generally, the guildhall was a showy city landmark and contained a large meeting hall, paintings of past masters of the guild, and displays of items crafted by members of the guild. 
Only the most skilled crafters were admitted to the guild’s membership, which consisted of those persons who were allowed to have shops in the city where their goods were crafted and sold. Consequently, the guild held many meetings about whom to admit. Also of importance was the setting of prices.  he guild made sure that its members sold at prices that were fair and consistent. The guild could also regulate the hours worked by a master to assure that no one worked too many hours and the guild also had a member welfare function. At guild meetings, the names of members who were sick, injured, or too old to work were read, along with the particular aid each needed. Guild members could vote to pay a stipend to those needing financial help, or vote to render whatever aid was necessary. The money came from dues paid by the members.  Meetings of the guild might also discuss complaints from the members about being cheated or wronged by a customer. Remedies would be discussed, then a member of the guild would be charged with the task of pursuing the remedy with the city’s mayor or the courts. 
The guild reviewed applications of those who sought to become members. The applicant’s work samples were reviewed, and the applicant was questioned about his skills and his character. Only the best were admitted and anyone with poor ethics, or whose work was not of a good quality, would be denied membership.
Most guilds, including those for goldsmiths, operated similarly. The guilds were there to regulate the quality of what was produced and the business of selling what was produced. 
The Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths began in London in 1327 with a Royal Charter from King Edward III, and another Royal Charter in 1393 from King Richard II for allowing the guild to own properties and rents for charitable purposes. The company also tested gold and silver. Like other guilds, the Worshipful Company had a patron saint in the person of St. Dunstan.  
London was not the only site of a goldsmiths’ guild, though. In the 1200’s, Paris already had over 100 goldsmiths and jewelers. Apprentices were expected to learn how to certify, work, file, solder, forge, saw, cast and polish gold.  (It was not uncommon for goldsmiths to be jewelers as well.) 
As a business, goldsmiths created many ceremonial and artistic objects for the church. Such items as chalices, patens, monstrances, pyxes, censers, candlesticks, crosses and seals were created. The market was not strictly the church, though. Royalty and nobility enjoyed the prestige and beauty of gold, too, so goldsmiths created items of personal adornment and household decorations such as flatware, platters, goblets and art.  Jewelry was common for both men and women of nobility.    
The Black Plague interrupted some of the commerce of the time, but once Europe overcame the plague, commerce increased and goldsmithing was once again flourishing in the late 1400’s and onward.  Not only London and Paris dominated, but also Bruges, Utrecht, Florence, Strasbourg, and Cologne. 
At that time, much of the world’s gold was coming from Africa, with Venice serving as the main marketplace for gold coming to Europe.  Exports were forbidden until the gold was refined to at least 23 carats/958 fine. Venice controlled most of the gold trade for 400 years. 
Later, additional discoveries of gold occurred in Hungary and Bohemia.  The Renaissance explorers were beginning voyages to the “New World” in pursuit of the fabled sources of gold and other precious commodities.  Those new stores of gold expanded the goldsmithing trade and, although still a precious commodity, gold items and jewelry became more popular as gold became more affordable to people becoming more financially secure as the European economies grew in the Renaissance and later. 
So a goldsmith apprentice, as in other trade, worked for his master for at least seven years, and, if the apprentice’s work was consistently good, his master would submit an application to the guild on the apprentice’s behalf, recommending journeyman status. (The word “journeyman” is from the French word “journee,” meaning day, implying that the journeyman would be paid for his work by the day.) At the guild, there would be testimony about the apprentice’s character, and a vote taken on whether to grant journeyman status.  If granted, the apprentice was not yet a foreman or master, but he was a step up from apprentice. The move from apprentice to journeyman usually occurred when the person was eighteen to twenty in age. It was an important move because a journeyman was paid for his labor, and the unpaid apprenticeship was over. The master might also give a portion of the shop’s profits to the journeyman for items on which they had worked together. 
In about three years from becoming a journeyman, the applicant could submit a “masterpiece” of his trade to the guild. That masterpiece work would be used as a sample to judge whether he was ready to be admitted as a member of the guild. Earning the title “master” was an honor, but came only after careful review of the work and the person, to be sure that the guild was inducting a worthy candidate.
And that’s the story of the “real” apprentice

Friday, February 25, 2011


In 1886 the New York Mineralogical Club was formed by famed Tiffany gemologist George F. Kunz, B.B. Chamberlain, and Professor Daniel S. Martin...Kunz was elected as secretary. The club functioned without a president until 1895 when Kunz received that position that he held for many years.

The club’s original mission was to keep alive an interest in only New York City minerals, but it now has a broader focus and is dedicated to the science of mineralogy through the collecting, describing and displaying of minerals and associated gemstones.

Its fine collection of more than 700 mineral specimens from New York City is housed at the American Museum of Natural History. It includes specimens of beryl, chyrsoberyl, garnet, tourmaline, stillbite, and xenotime, alongside many other species. Many of these specimens were found during the construction of the New York City’s subway system or in the bedrock underlying the foundations of New York’s famous skyscrapers.

During the 125 years the club has been in existence a number of honorary members have been appointed in recognition of their contributions in the filed of of minerals and mineralogy including Joseph Arons, Sir William Henry Bragg, Russ Buckingham, Maria Sklowdowska Curie, Edward S, Dana, Clifford Fondel, Victor Goldschmidt, Carl Kroti, Alfred Lacrois, Chalres Palache, Frederick Pough, Waldemar T. Schaller, Leonard J. Spencer (all deceased) and Lawrence H. Conklin (considered an authority on Kunz) and Richard Hauck (the mineral hauckite was named in his honor).

The club has published a number of booklets with the most famous being James Manchester’s Minerals of New York and Its Environs. In recent years the club has published three gem and mineral almanacs, two guidebooks to mineralogy, and several other publications which have received regional and national awards.

The current membership is over 250 including a unit for young collectors. Monthly meeting are held the second Wednesday of every months (except in July and August) and are open to the public.
Upcoming events include the Spring 2011 New York City Gem & Mineral Show which will be held March 5-6 at the Holiday Inn, 440 W. 57th St. (kids are welcome) and a lecture at the March 9 meeting by president Mitch Portnoy on “The Magnificent Building Stones of the New Yankee Stadium in the Bronx".

Saturday, February 19, 2011

More Jewelry and Relates Arts Exhibitions and Lectures

Marcus Adams: Royal Photographer

Queens Gallery, Palace of Holyroodhouse
Edinburgh, Scotland
February 25-June 5, 2011

Reliquaries for Everyday Life: Andrea Wenckebach
Zilberschmuck Gallery
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
March 1-26, 2011

Ceylon, Luxury Goods from the Renaissance
Museum Rietberg
Zürich, Switzerland
Through March 13, 2011

Secrets of the Silk Road
University of Pennsylvania Museum of Art & Anthropology
Philadelphia, PA
Through June 5, 2011

Association for the Study of Jewelry & Related Arts Offers Fall Trip to Baltimore

American Jewelry Travel:
The weekend will include curator’s tours of The Treasury Room and the Asian Galleries of the Walters Art Museum, a visit to the Walters’ Annual Jewelry Fair, a visit to see the jewelry and miniatures collection at the Maryland Historical Society, luncheons and possibly additional events. We don’t have a price yet for the trip (travel to Baltimore is on your own) as the museums are still working out our visit.
If you think you will be interested in attending ask us to put you on our reservation list to be notified when all details are finalized. It will not obligate you to join us but there will only be 20 spaces for this trip and a number are already reserved.