Saturday, October 16, 2021

Jewelry as Art

All That Glitters

“Marco Lightning” diamond necklace created by Richard Alan.

Jewelry, as you may know, has been around since the dawn of man. At first, it was worn as talisman to keep away evil spirits or even to appease certain other important idols. Eventually, jewelry became a precious metallic adornment and a thing to possess, and just presenting a bear tooth or a cougar claw on a leather cord to the apple of your eye didn’t cut the mustard any longer.

In my younger apprentice years, while learning the trade, I would frequent the many museums the city of Boston had to offer every chance I could. The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston was my favorite. It had an extensive selection of jewelry from the centuries, Roman, Greek and my favorite… the magnificent gold pieces made by ancient Egyptian goldsmiths that totally mesmerized me.

Their talents and skills without modern tools are examples of their unparalleled expertise. They discovered how to drill holes in thousands of quartz beads smaller than a mustard seed. Even to this day, no one knows how they accomplished this! (Quartz is one of the hardest materials on Earth!) Let’s not get started about how they build the pyramids!

It is proven historically that the ancient Egyptians had a highly religious and a significantly important belief in the hereafter. The jewelry the goldsmiths created reflected and praised the many gods and deities they worshiped. The craftsmanship had to be worthy of the kings and queens of the era they were meticulously created for.

I have been fortunate to visit many European cities and some of the finest museums in the world. I spent days mesmerized at the Louvre in Paris, then astonished at the quality of priceless jewelry at the Vatican museum in Rome. I would then have my mind blown in Florence, and later experience the same emotions traveling through Germany and Austria, viewing the jewelry commissioned centuries ago for Bavarian and Ottoman Empire royalty.

I have to admit It’s pretty exciting being a practicing goldsmith and having the opportunity being up close and personal to innumerable masterpieces, handcrafted by ancient goldsmiths. And I have been humbled by the beauty I have beheld! (Much to the dismay of my wife Andrea, who still can’t understand my fixation and the time I spend in old dusty museums!)   

There is no question that jewelry is art at its highest level. I’m not demeaning art created with a piece of canvas, assorted colors of paint and a brush or what can be done with a hunk of marble, hammer and chisel. I’ve seen Van Goghs, Picassos and the works of Di Vinci, not to mention Michelangelo…all astounding! It’s just that there’s something so rarely beautiful when created in precious metal and encrusted in diamonds and rare gems, brings art to a higher level in my opinion, besides it’s what I do for a living, just not on such a grand scale.

Gentleman’s 18kt. gold and diamond ring, hand crafted by Richard Alan. | File Photo

I have become enriched by what I’ve seen and hope to keep seeing in the future. Making unusual jewelry from one’s mind’s eye is influenced by what I have absorbed in my travels. I love creating practical pieces that are not only different but are a joy to wear and become everyday signature pieces to the wearer.

A signature piece is something you would wear on a daily basis; it could be a ring or a necklace or a distinctive pair of earrings. It becomes a part of you, and you are recognized by wearing it. Quite the ultimate art form if you ask me.

Nothing but nothing gives me more joy when a customer tells me how many compliments they receive when wearing one of my signature pieces.

Buying run of the mill production jewelry that the masses wear may satisfy most people. I pride myself that the majority of my handcrafted pieces are one-of-a-kind and can be considered art, created for an individual with sophisticated tastes and that’s fine by me.

Fine jewelry does not have to be boring, seek and ye shall find!

Richard Alan is a designer/goldsmith and owner of The Harbor Goldsmith at Island Plaza and welcomes your questions about all that glitters. Contact him at 239-394-9275 or, or visit his informative website at

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