The history, science and artistry of fine jewelry will be highlighted at the second annual Northwest Jewelry Conference August 15-17 in Bellevue WA.
Noted jewelry historians Diana Singer and Peter Shemonsky will be returning with new topics of value to collectors, jewelers and appraisers.
In all, eight industry leaders will provide in-depth presentations plus hands on workshops for up to twenty-four students.
“This is an information-dense weekend” explains Ted Irwin, director of Northwest Gemological Institute (NGI), the conference host.
“It all started 25 years ago with period jewelry seminars by Karen Lorene (who will also be speaking this year), and grew into full weekend programs, first with Christie Romero and then Peter Shemonsky.
“Last year we transitioned to a multi-speaker format. Our intent is to bring world-class speakers to a small group environment. It may not make the school money but it does provide an opportunity for those passionate about period jewelry to explore the topic at home in the Pacific Northwest.”
The NGI classes have expanded outside its original localized audience. Students have come from seven western states and Canada to attend the NGI programs, and inquiries have spread to the other coast. “We are not trying to compete with the other great programs out there” says Irwin, “but offer a unique class where students can really interact with their instructors”. And the instructors seem to like that.
“Diana’s “Great Jewelry Heists” was a big hit last year and Peter has been an NGI favorite instructor here for several years, so they have to be back – both even asked if they could return.”
The conference kicks off this year with a champagne/hors d’ oeuvre reception on Friday, August 15 where Singer will present “What Makes Good ‘Good’?” We know it when we see it; good things always stand out from the crowd. But what are the elements that determine excellence in jewelry?
Singer will discuss stone quality, workmanship issues, and the components of good design, including mathematical principles, color usage, negative and positive space. You will never look at jewelry the same way again.
On Saturday, August 16, Singer and Shemonsky will team up to cover the formidable history of Tiffany & Co., its innovations, designers and imposters. This presentation is the launch of an in-depth coverage of one major jewelry house at each conference.
Another planned yearly presentation is “Another Time and Place,” which will offer a 360-degree look the influences, developments and transitions within a slice of jewelry history.
This year, Shemonsky will examine 1890-1905, the closing of the 19th Century to the dawning of a new era, navigating the political, socio-economic and technical influences that shaped the 20th century and the jewelry associated with it.
Diana Singer is owner of D & E Singer Inc., buyers and sellers of estate jewelry and gemstones out of New York City. She is a founding member of the Women’s Jewelry Association (WJA), recipient of WJA Retailer of the Year Award in 1988. Singer is a Board of Directors member and Program Chair of the American Society of Jewelry Historians (ASJH); frequent lecturer including Tucson Gem Fair, GIA Symposium, Annual Period and Estate Jewelry Conference, Jewelry Camp, auction houses, and industry shows. She has been published in Rapaport Diamonds, JCK and other trade publications.
Peter Shemonsky, is president of Peter Jon Shemonsky Fine Antique Jewelry, as a buyer and seller of estate jewelry based in San Francisco, and provides restorations, design and appraisals. He is the author of the International Society of Appraisers Antique and Period Jewelry course, co-director of ASJH West Coast chapter; past Jewelry department head of Grogan & Co, Bonhams, and buyer for CIRCA Jewels, San Francisco and Hong Kong.
Peter is a frequent lecturer including American Gem Society (AGS) Conclave, National Association of Jewelry Appraisers (NAJA), American Society of Appraisers (ASA); and a regular of TV’s Antiques Roadshow for the past ten years. This will mark his fourth year as instructor with NGI.
“The Evolution of Diamond Cutting” will be a comprehensive history from Al Gilbertson cut historian at the Gemological Institute of America, and Scott Sucher, principal of The Stonecutter who provides museums with replicas of the world’s most famous diamonds.
Al Gilbertson has helped develop many of the industry’s analytics that determine a diamond’s light performance, including the American Gem Society’s (AGS) cut grade system and GIA’s cut grade system with his current research being on the metrics for fancy cuts as GIA’s Cut Project Director, Carlsbad, CA. He is author of “The American Cut – the first 100 years.”
Scott Sucher has degrees in semiconductor manufacturing, chemistry and management. He has done exhaustive historical and hands on studies of the Hope Diamond and its lineage from the French Blue as published by GIA’s Gems and Gemology as well as television productions by National Geographic and The Discovery Channel.
He will present his exact replicas of the World’s Most Famous Diamonds, where students can see and feel just how impressive they really are.
Jewelry as Art is Karen Lorene’s look at designers who create jewelry for artistry sake over intrinsic value and how it is evaluated.
Karen Lorene is the owner of Facèré Jewelry Art, Seattle, WA featuring dozens of local and international artists and has appraised jewelry art since 1987. She is an authority on antique jewelry as an appraiser since 1972 and author of “Buying Antique Jewelry – Skipping the Mistakes.” She published the memoir/business workbook “Building a Business – Building a Life,” and her second novel should be out by Conference time. Lorene is a senior member of the National Association of Jewelry Appraisers and participated in the Antiques Roadshow for several years.
A lighter, but informative close to Saturday’s schedule will be a Pearl Stringing Demonstration by Evie Chung, who presented a comprehensive pearls workshop last year. Students will see what happens when a strand is submitted for re-stringing. While she demonstrates the traditional Japanese hand-knotting technique, Chung will discuss stringing options and restoration of period pearl strands.
Sunday’s sessions are heavy-duty workshops on materials and markings to aid in the identification, origin and time placement of jewelry. Shemonsky will present “What is It?” with examples and testing procedures for the many organics and their substitutes used in jewelry.
William Whetstone and Danusia Niklewicz of the Hallmark Research Institute will provide great insight into deciphering jewelry marks through their presentation Where is it From?;an interactive presentation and hands on hallmarks workshop. With Lindy Matula, Whetstone and Niklewicz are the authors of “World Hallmarks, Volume One, Europe,” and are doing continuing research for hallmarks outside of Europe for volume two, due out later this year.
William Whetstone is a historian, antiquarian jeweler, numismatist, educator and goldsmith. He is twice past president of the International Society of Appraisers, where he wrote and taught on the appraisal of gems, jewelry and fine arts. He has been a dealer and collector of ancient and world coins as well as precious metal objects d’ art for over forty years.
Danusia Niklewicz is a highly respected independent jewelry appraiser to the antique and high-end jewelry community in the Los Angeles area for over twenty of her thirty year industry career. She taught at GIA and ISA, holding G.G. and CAPP credentials, and earned her fellowship from the Gemmological Association of Great Britain as well as credentials with the American Society of Appraisers. She and Whetstone have provided their interactive lecture series across Canada and the U.S.
Cost of the conference sessions, which includes the reception, breakfasts and lunches is $595 and will be held at Northwest Gemological Institute in Bellevue WA.
Further information on the Institute is available through www.nwgem.com, with complete conference and registration details at www.northwestjewelryconference.com.