For someone not familiar with the art of jewelry making, distinguishing what makes one piece better than the other might seem very elusive. To be sure, personal taste will always be the primary guiding factor when deciding whether or not you like a piece of jewelry. However, being able to truly recognize quality craftsmanship takes some skill and experience. Here are a few pointers for what to look for:
- The back of the piece should be as beautifully made and finished as the front. To see some exquisite and awe-inspiring work, visit the Collection’s page of Michael Bondanza’s website. Keep in mind that this is all hand-done work!
- Stones should be set securely in place and settings should be clean without any ragged edges. Wire-wrapped settings of beads and briolettes should be neat and uniform.
- There should be no obvious tool marks on the metal (dents, scratches, etc.) unless these are part of the overall design and finish. Todd Reed’s organic-looking metal finishes and obviously tooled stone settings compliment the raw diamonds he favors in his work.
- Metal edges should be finished and not sharp.
- Glue, while usually frowned upon amongst jewelers, is accepted for securing pearls into some types of settings. However, no glue should be visible.
- Piece should be wearable. Pendants and earrings should not hang lopsided (unless this is a design feature), ear wires should be thin enough to thread through the ear comfortably, yet strong enough to hold their shape, and prongs on rings should be finished to eliminate the danger of snagging on clothing.
- Pieces should be fineness stamped (indicating metal and quality) and hallmarked.
Finally, while seemingly perfect-looking jewelry can now be manufactured almost entirely by machine, the human element in a fine hand-crafted piece of jewelry not only adds interest, beauty and warmth, but conveys each artist’s individual energy. These are the intangible qualities that can not be replicated and should be treasured.