In a recent article, I wondered whether pupils who learn a new craft always heed the master’s warnings and instructions. I asked Silvio if he could remember a time when, as a young jeweler, he made a mistake his acquired knowledge should have allowed him to avoid. We all have moments, when we learn a new trade, a job or process, when we feel too confident too soon. This is because we are eager for free expression.
He laughs. “I still do things I should know better and not do at all,” he says. “You work for many hours on small details and next thing you know you finish setting a stone and it is upside down. Or you place a ring on the bench to inspect the setting and in a moment of distraction, as the client watches over your shoulder and you are enjoying the conversation, you nearly pop the stone out.”
“Sometimes, it is not our own mistakes that we fix. Accidents and mistakes happen and lead to new ideas. Remember the opal a customer brought in that was broken in half? We talked about many different ways to use one piece or the other. Meanwhile, the same customer brought in a diamond and emerald pendant and asked that I think of something new to make with this as well. Everything ended up coming together in a very unique piece. We were both so pleased with it.”
“Sometimes while you work a new design you’ll accidentally break a stone or you thought you’d use four of one type of stone, but if it’s more rare maybe you can only get two at that time. This is the moment when a design takes a new direction you would never have thought about otherwise. And this is what repairs are about sometimes too. Customers come in thinking they want something fixed, and when we look at the piece and discuss it we suddenly see something completely different. Clients are often the ones who imagine solutions.”
I heard a saying one day,” concludes Silvio, “A good jeweler is one who can fix his mistakes and make the piece as perfect as it was before, if not better.”
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