I started at Jewelry Arts Institute (now Jewelry Arts Inc.) over 25 years ago. I was taking a few college art courses at the time but I knew I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. I literally woke up one morning and knew I wanted to be a jeweler. I’ll go ahead and date myself but I went to the library and looked through all the phone books to find jewelry schools. It seemed at the time that all the jewelry schools were in Manhattan and here I was in New Jersey. I know all about the shame of growing up in New Jersey. I wrote away (snail mail) to a few and Jewelry Arts was the only one
that responded with a brochure. To the rube I was, Institute sounded like a large brick building with many people in white coats on a respectably large campus. I called JAI and asked to be connected to the Financial Aid Department. JAI was at that time on a third floor walk-up on 79th and Broadway. Lucky me, I got Myron Bikakis on the phone, instructor and designer of Bikakis & Johns. He snickered and said, “What do you think this is, Princeton?”At that point I think I just hung up and resolved never to confess my idiocy. Oh, wait…
I signed up for classes anyway and couldn’t wait to start. My experience on the phone clearly taught me nothing so I packed my lunch. After all, who knows if the campus had a lunch place…The class was the most fun I ever had so I just kept coming. After two years I caught wind of the school’s apprentice program so I approached the school’s owner, Bessie Jamieson.
She seemed pretty underwhelmed by the idea but she took me on anyway. Lucky for me!
I began teaching in 1999 and I took over as Director of Jewelry Arts Inc in 2009. Just last year I released a jewelry making book on Amazon, Soldering Demystified, that became both a #1 Best Seller and a #1 New Release in just a few weeks. I was also recently featured in a PBS/Nova special segment on gold, Treasures of the Earth:Metals. An unlikely result but one I couldn’t be more pleased about. The gold “Bird” earrings I made especially for the PBS/Nova special, utilizing ancient goldsmithing techniques, appears below in their finished form.