An Ancient Modern Process

a small round ingot of gold in a hand

I remember when I was younger, my mom gathered up a bunch of old-but-valuable (both sentimentally and price-wise) jewelry that she didn’t wear anymore, and had a jeweler melt it all down and make a simple, hammered cuff bracelet. It was thick and caught the light just so— I loved it, but I loved it mostly because I was astonished that someone could just…melt a bunch of old jewelry down and make something new and beautiful out of it. The whole concept seemed so ancient, and I was totally mystified about what must go into that process.

Looking back at it now, I wonder if that planted a seed in me so long before I knew I would become a jeweler who melts down old jewelry to make new pieces.

In my studio, I use a lot of different tools. Some are new-fangled modern gadgets, others are time-tested basics that there are just no substitutes for (think: hammers!). I also use many different techniques to achieve the pieces I make, but nothing feels like I’m carrying on a tradition that is thousands of years old like melting and pouring gold.

Yes, I use a handy oxy/propane torch to melt the gold, but beyond that, not much has changed. I melt the gold in a crucible, and pour the molten metal into an ingot mold, and then fabricate whatever I need from that ingot.

Maybe I’m not making amulets and scarab-adorned armbands (actually, maybe I should!), but I feel a connection to skilled artisans from as far back as six thousand years ago, right up through history to today.

And, isn’t there just something about owning a piece that was made by a person who is using the same techniques that have been employed for thousands of years? I think so. 

Leave a comment