Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Making of Super Premium Silver

February 1, 2011 by admin  
Filed under Antiquing

antique jewelry
by Celeste33

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The jewelers of antiquity would labor for days upon days on a piece, casting waxes, assembling sterling silver and gold pieces, polishing the works, and setting precious jewels. Only then would a brilliant designer jewelry piece be presented to the client, cared for from inception to presentation by a single skilled individual.

Fast-forward to 2010, and the process is much different. Thousands of pieces are made by workers with no connection to the materials, each with one specialized task to do. Perhaps an individual solders on an arm, or polishes a certain area before passing it on. Some are defective, some are not – the factory simply produces more so the rejects can be thrown out, and customer complaints can be exchanged for a perfectly identical product. This is done from fast fashion, all the way up to so-called designer jewelry – modern jewelry to gothic jewelry, and everything in between.

The art of artisan jewelry has been pushed to a small niche, filled by a small handful of attentive jewelry designers and a small group of clients desiring the highest quality, vision, and workmanship in their designer jewelry. A super premium gothic jewelry line, Enfants Perdus, shepherded by New York City based designer and silversmith Quatre Tsien, is one of the gothic jewelry designers who work in this shrinking space.

The inherent quality of the material and piece is respected – everything is done by hand by Tsien and his small team. The materials used in the gothic jewelry pieces are responsible, having been sourced from eco-friendly and non-conflict regions. A premium is paid for silver and gold mined and refined via ecologically conscious methods. Each artisan starts a piece, and is the only person working on that piece until it’s finished.

The patinas, Tsien says, are inspired by the weathered and eroded buildings of war-torn Western Europe. The details, too, looked to the buildings that had seen innumerable wars; the rise and fall of civilizations. Applied by hand, paint brush techniques are used to build up layers upon layers of resin and chemical decay – each piece uses dozens of hours to complete and is checked at every stage of production to have evoke a fantastical weathering process.

The end result is something that seems almost drawn out of a storybook. The gothic jewelry pieces that result from this are a mysterious mix – skull rings, floral rock bracelets, crystal necklaces, and other gothic pendants and necklaces. They are unlike any other designer jewelry pieces, mysterious and hand-crafted, where the market today is awash with mass-produced emblems of consumer excess and labels. The majority of sales in the market are increasingly fast fashion, but Tsien mentions to us that he has no intention of making the line anything less than the vision that the Enfants Perdus share for gothic jewelry. The line, sold in a handful of boutiques and high end department stores, will remain premium and limited by the production of their small team. For the small collective of artisan jewelry silversmiths, anything less would be a sale of their values.

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For more information about Artisan Jewelry please visit

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