“From Apprentice to Master Craftsman, a Jewelry Maker” – Sarkis Sakiz
Introduction to the Series by the Editor
Dear Reader, my name is Sarkis Sakiz. I am of Armenian descent, born in Turkey. I began to work with gold, making jewelry, when I was around 10 years old. The journey through which I became a Master jewelry maker and designer has been long and fruitful. Now, I want to share it with you hoping to be a companion into the artistic world of Jewelry Collecting.
At the tender age of 10 years old, I was fortunate enough that my school’s Principal noticed my skills in woodcarving class and recommended me to a jewelry making apprenticeship. This was a program for the government which made gifts to be given to ambassadors, diplomats, and other officials. The apprenticeship was very good for a child but, what can you expect from a 10-year-old? Well, by the time I was 17 or 18 years old I was already a full-scale jeweler.
Merujan Gevik, the master jeweler that taught me learned jewelry-making in Canada and Paris. Once an excellent Master craftsman, he returned to work in Turkey. It was under his apprenticeship that I learned basic jewelry-making, molding, alloying, engraving, stone setting, fitting, etc. I learned the techniques as best as I could from him. However, in some areas, out of my own curiosity in my creations, I have been able to overstep the boundaries of the technique as well.
After my military service, when I returned home, Merujan Gevik approached me and offered me to be partners. He said “why be independent when we already have set up shop and we know each other well.” Hence, I saw that the partnership was a very generous offer. He already had everything, the knowledge, the established clients, and in return I could offer him my stamina, vision, creativity, and production.
Creativity is something that is within and no one can give it to you. Either we have it or we don’t. It is what separates a good painter from the poor painter, a good Jeweler from the average one. The teacher can teach you how to alloy, melt, fabricate, and set precious gems, but not necessarily to be creative.
My design process begins with a drawing. Once the design is selected, I prepare the material to be used. For example, this ring is made out of platinum, so I start by melting the Platinum, then I shape it into either a wire or a plate depending on the design. I prepare the setting for the stones and mount the pieces to the design, finishing it with decorative Victorian Style hand engraving.
In any art or field, improvement over time shows if you are cut out for a particular art like painting, jewelry making or any other work of art. Every person has to show an understanding and that you are capturing the audience.
Jewelry is a visual art form and it has to stay within esthetical proportions of beauty. It is like a painter that gives a sense of depth in the painting and fills it up with every detail in the image. Jewelry making has similar understanding and knowledge to it, but today it has become a mass production jewelry business. In the US, the feel for it was different when I first started creating jewelry 25 to 30 years ago, because it takes time, and time is costly.
People ask me how do I get my inspiration? do I wake up in the middle of the night and design? Well, for me, an idea suddenly pops up and I put it down on paper. I am also inspired by conversations with my clients; but, it does not happen with everyone, only with those whom I can really connect with. For them, their story brings a different design out of me. The history of creativity in my trade has been an ovation to the beauty of the form, the design, and the one who wears it.
Right now, my teacher is probably near 80 years old. I see him every year when I go to Turkey. We have a very close friendship. We were together for over 12 years. Hence, in retrospect, I consider it a great opportunity for a child to be an apprentice at a place where he can learn a skill.
Every person has a natural skill. They have to reach their potential as best as they can. I tell my children that God gave each of us a brain to use, so we must make sure to use it because not doing so would be so much of a waste. This greeting card was given to me by one of my daughters for Father’s Day about 3 or 4 years ago and it reads:
“Dear Dad I can never convey how much your love and support truly means to me. You are a very special and constantly push me to exceed my limit. I have a picture of you and Mom by my desk. I see you everyday day and it reminds me of how blessed I am. You have always taught me that while my biggest obstacle might be myself it is also my biggest strength.”
Hence Dear reader, it is this journey and the lessons learned in the art of Jewelry Making that I want to share with you in order to bring you into a new level of understanding into The Art of Jewelry Collecting.