For the Love of Jewelers: A Jewelry Journey Podcast

By Rio Grande

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Category: Arts

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Bench jewelers sustain a millennia-old, universal tradition that commemorates and shapes the most fundamental aspects of human experience—identity, memory, celebration, love. Yet the act of making jewelry is paradoxically private, as many jewelers bring their creations to life in solitude. For The Love of Jewelers will connect listeners with the honest, inspirational stories of leaders and influencers engaged in the art and business of jewelry-making. We’re honored to collaborate with Courtney Gray of Creative Side Jewelry Academy on the inaugural season of this jewelry podcast. Courtney will host candid, one-on-one conversations with jewelers as they share their triumphs, challenges, inspiration, and lessons learned. This season’s guests include designer Rémy Rotenier, Toolbox Initiative Founder Tim McCreight, Saul Bell Design Award Winners Sophia Hu and Mehrnoosh Ganji, and more. Listen at your bench, in your car, in the park….wherever you are, we’re glad you’re here.

Episode Date
08: Beth Millner, “Take It in Bite Sized Pieces”

Beth Millner always knew she wanted to be an artist. While still in school for her BFA at Northern Michigan University, Beth decided she didn’t need to wait to graduate to begin on her jewelry business journey. What started as just Beth and her traveling trade show table today employs a small team focused on using eco-friendly materials and providing customers with designs they can feel good about. Join Courtney and Beth as they discuss the challenges and joys of starting and marketing your own business, the secrets to successful social media and the importance of leaving your employees to do their jobs without your constant commentary—even if you have to wear noise-cancelling headphones to shut yourself up.

Mar 20, 2020
07: Charles Lewton-Brain and Nanz Aalund, “Real Glimpses of the Future”

Fixing the wheel rather than reinventing it seems to be a running theme with master goldsmiths and educators Nanz Aalund and Charles Lewton-Brain. Whether it’s providing much-needed, accredited learning spaces for students or the need for jewelry businesses to embrace young apprentices, Nanz and Charles are all for building on what’s been done—the key word being build. In this episode, join Nanz, Charles and Courtney as they discuss the “paradigm shift” in the jewelry industry and the practices both old and new that will be crucial in the survival and success of the craft. 

Mar 06, 2020
06: Tomas Wittelsbach, “Transcend the Transaction”

Tomas Wittelsbach was a sculptor before he was a jeweler. At age 9 he built micro-worlds within repurposed baby food jars. He then spent most of his adult career creating movie sets—for Batman and Robin, he and his team had 8 days to produce 22-foot sculptures. Today, Tomas applies digital sculpting to jewelry design. As a ZBrush pioneer and instructor he helps students discover the intersections between mechanics and meaning. Courtney caught up with him at the Portland Jewelry Symposium, where they discussed art and craft, pushiness and confidence, and finding your voice.

Feb 21, 2020
05: Jo Haemer, “The World Doesn’t Owe Me a Thing”

Mechanical and engineering skills are matrilineal in Jo Haemer’s family. Jo’s trailblazing mother studied chemistry in college in the early 1930s at age 15. When Jo started out in the jewelry industry, she was always the “first and only woman” in every place she worked.  Her spectacular journey has included confronting the stigma imposed on her dyslexia, learning old-world skills from camp survivors, working with a 17-carat diamond (“a two-diaper setting job”), and fabricating luxury eyewear.  Join Jo and Courtney as they bust the myth of the starving artist and lift up jewelers everywhere. 

Feb 07, 2020
04: Mehrnoosh Ganji, Step into Your Power

As a young girl in Iran, Mehrnoosh Ganji could not fully express herself. Now based in Melbourne, Australia, she creates bold jewelry fueled by the intermingling of cultures and influenced by her lingering love of geometry after years as an industrial designer. Her intricately-engineered “Prospect Palace” won first place in the Silver/Argentium® Silver category of the 2019 Saul Bell Design Award. 

In this episode she tells Courtney how it feels to be a first-time entrant and winner, talks about her “calling” to make jewelry, and discusses why jewelry is empowering for women. 

Jan 24, 2020
03: Tim McCreight, Books from the Bench

While working on his iconic volume, The Complete Metalsmith, Tim McCreight imagined, “What if silver was writing this?” In 1985 he started Brynmorgen Press to provide practical, bench-tested textbooks on metalsmithing and design. Decades later his experiential approach to research led him to co-found the Toolbox Initiative, which delivers new and gently-used tools and silver to jewelers in Africa. 

Join Tim and Courtney as they discuss what makes a great jewelry book, the generosity of the jewelry community, and “partnering with metal.” 

(P.S.: You’ll also get a sneak preview of an upcoming book by Toolbox Initiative co-founder Matthieu Cheminée!)

Jan 10, 2020
02: Karin Jacobson, Keep Throwing Darts

Karin Jacobson confesses to screaming when she learned that she’d won a Saul Bell Design Award. She compares entering contests to “throwing darts and hoping one is going to stick,” and believes in embracing and learning from failure.

In this episode Karin shares her competition experiences, ponders hiring an apprentice, and remembers her own teenage jewelry apprenticeship. 

Dec 23, 2019
01: Rémy Rotenier, Passion and Lucidity

As a designer, Rémy Rotenier “loves collaborating with good hands.” His own education as a bench jeweler began at age 19—“too old” by the standards of the Écoles de la Rue du Louvre in his native France. During his first time at the bench he drove a diamond bur through his finger, an experience that influenced his decision to “stick with design.” That, and looking through the iconic Tiffany Blue Book: “I thought, ‘Americans are really wild, they design all these crazy things!’”

In this premier episode of For the Love of Jewelers, Rémy takes a break from a week of teaching at Creative Side to share stories from his journey in the jewelry industry, from “discovering” sterling silver as a young designer at Tiffany & Co., to his eponymous line for Bella Luce and JTV, to watching the “walls and ceilings disappear” around his students.

Nov 25, 2019