Saturday, 10 am
At first sight, anyone not familiar with Silvio, or the techniques of modern jewelry making, might have assumed he was a mad man this morning as he banged on a piece of silver repeatedly, with great force.
The ancient techniques of the silversmith endure. Jewelry making is a hands-on profession. As such, and as an art form, it demands direct contact with the materials. The jeweler knows when his materials are the right shape or texture not merely by sight, but also by touch, and his fingers can move pieces in space better than any mechanical device ever could, because they act in direct response to his vision.
“You cannot heat metals over and over or they become brittle,” explains Silvio. “This piece of silver will be used to make a ring. I must first flatten it enough so that I can then put it through the press and make it into a band.”
Different ring designs demand different methods. Silvio just finished carving the wax form for a new ring he is making for a Burlington client. The wax was sent off to be cast. This method will allow him to keep a mold. Any piece made from scratch, without wax casting, cannot be duplicated so readily.
The blue wax is more dense. It is used to make the larger components of a piece of jewelry. The red wax is softer, and thus easier to carve and shape when designing settings and other small details.
The client for whom he carved the wax had brought in an antique gold ring. “It was a gorgeous and intricate old-mine cut diamond ring, but it was delicate and would catch on things as she worked,” says Silvio. “Because she works with her hands, she wanted something bolder, yet with a lower profile; something that would be elegant and still be comfortable while she works.”
The client in question makes cakes. When acquiring jewelry, we often consider our tastes and fashion style and may forget to take into account how we actually use our hands throughout the day. We all move differently. People who build things or use heavy tools are not the only ones who may find rings cumbersome, but if wearing them does not present a real safety issue, then a simple extra consideration for design, shape and weight makes perfect sense. We do not need to divest ourselves of the ornaments that are as much a part of who we are as our personality and style.
Silvio will use palladium for this particular ring. It is similar in appearance to white gold, but does not have the same yellow undertones. Palladium is very durable, so it is especially suitable for working hands.