Today we have the pleasure to interview a new acquaintance of ours: Jeremy Dunn. He is a talented Seattle based jeweller who has won 3rd place in the 2020 AGTA Spectrum awards.
Jeremy, whom we discovered during the very same Tucson show, follows a path that is not unlike that of our pal Jason Marchiafava in that he hand makes his jewellery instead of using the more modern CAD systems to develop his models.
Let us see in this interview how he came to be the artist he is today and what drove him to take the traditional approach rather than the modern one.
Without any further delay, we give you Jeremy Dun,
Meet Jeremy Dunn in exclusivity for AsiaLounges - Photo Credits: Dunn & Co
AsiaLounges: Hi Jeremy, thanks for joining us today here at AsiaLounges. Can you tell us more about you? Who are you Jeremy Dunn?
Jeremy Dunn: Thank you for the interview Simon.
I am a first generation jewellery maker that began my career in Chicago about fifteen years ago. I enjoy making one of a kind pieces especially in platinum and with a variety of coloured gemstones. I am passionate about the technical as well as the artistic side of things. My specialty is in classical style.
I love to travel, experience life, and love learning new skills.
AsiaLounges: Following the introduction, the next few questions are going to be about your path to jewellery and how you came to the trade. The first one we’d like to ask is, how did you enter the trade?
Jeremy Dunn: That is a long story. To summarise my journey a bit, I made my first ring when I was in grammar school with the help of an art teacher. Following that, I also dabbled a bit through high school and college at a bench in my parents basement with my fathers set of acetylene torches.
After graduating with a business degree from Michigan State University, I tried my hand in a few different industries including a short stint in the wine industry. I worked for Sotheby's along with a one other wine auction company. I tried to find my calling for some time including managing bars and restaurants in my evenings.
One summer, I reached out to a man that I had known for many years (Rob Hansen) a master platinum-smith who worked in the downtown area of Chicago. He and I had known each other through a family member and had even had his help while I was in grammar school with a bracelet I was working on. In fact, I still wear it to this day. I began stopping by to say hello and see what he was working on from time to time. Over the next month or so my former “spark of interest” began to grow. I asked if I could make something with his help. Absolutely he said. He gave me the top of a small refrigerator to work on as my bench (I laugh when I think about this) and I began making basic silver jewellery and learning a much as I could from Rob. This refrigerator top silver jewellery making journey led to make fifteen pieces of jewellery and an offer to learn under him as his apprentice. After a couple years of training, my teacher decided to close his business.
A that point I made the decision to purchased some tools from him and I took over his space servicing some of his former clients. When the recession of 2008 hit, I was fortunate enough to apply and be offered a scholarship to attend GIA’s Graduate Gemology program. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity, so I closed up my shop and headed to Carlsbad California to learn all that I could. After attending GIA I went to work for the largest custom retail shop in the country where I expanded my setting and fabrication skills. A few years later, I opened my own shop Dunn & Co. in downtown Seattle where I am today. I still learn something new almost every day.
AsiaLounges: Further to the previous question, what pushed you to decide for hand made jewellery rather than the more modern approach of CAD (computer assisted design) type jewellery?
Jeremy Dunn: I deeply respect the modern approach and the technological aspects of the trade.
Different paths lead to different results. I became a jewellery maker because I enjoy creating things with my hands. As a result of this, I prefer the artistry and skill involved in hand fabrication. Plus, there is something wonderful about creating a fully hand-made piece from start to finish that is difficult to explain.
Each step of the process requires a steady hand, a keen eye for symmetry, the understanding of how each piece connects with the next, the geometry of a gemstone, setting, wearability of jewellery, and most importantly the experience to see three steps ahead. I really enjoy every facet of this process. When making a fully fabricated piece of jewellery, I feel that the hands-on approach brings me closer to the work that I am creating. It is my hope that this will bring the wearer closer to the artist that created it.
"Lady in Pink" is a Hand Fabricated Platinum Pendant Featuring a 4.36ct Oval Cut Pink Garnet from Mahenge Tanzania surrounded by Ideal cut D-F VS Diamonds - Photo Credit: Sara Rey Jewelry Photography
AsiaLounges: Upon visiting your website we noticed that you are selling gemstones and have very few pieces of jewellery displayed there. Is your online presence meant to display exclusively your available inventory? And is the lack of jewellery presence on the website due to, much like us, the fact that you are mostly doing bespoke items and therefore not in stock?
Jeremy Dunn: That is a great question. I have a number of wholesale clientele for whom I consistently make jewellery. They request that I do not share images as it would interfere with their marketing and brand identity.
The reason I have very few completed pieces on my website, is due to my time constraints. I find very little free moments to build one of a kind pieces that I want to make because of my current demand for bespoke pieces from other jewellers and designers in the industry.
In the future, I will be building more and more pieces of my own personal inspiration for online sales. For now, my website is mostly gemstones to spark the creativity of bespoke pieces for my retail clients and for my wholesale clients looking for fine color. One step at a time.
AsiaLounges: Could you tell us about what inspires you to make jewellery? I mean, where does your creativity stem from?
Jeremy Dunn: Very often the initial inspiration is the gemstone itself. Many times, the stone will speak to me and call out for a design to compliment its beauty.
As a graduate gemologist, I have continually become more and more inspired by the geography, history, geology, chemistry, light physics. The list goes on and on.
In addition, Jewelry has always represented a symbol of friendship, love, or deep memories. It is a symbol of self expression and beauty. As a craftsman and artist, I feel very lucky that I am able to not only create something with my own hands that people love and cherish, but it also brings a feeling of accomplishment from design to final polish.
AsiaLounges: We mention in the introduction your award winning piece at AGTA Spectrum 2020, can you tell us more about it and how it came to be?
Jeremy Dunn: This was a fun piece. As I mentioned, I am often inspired by the gemstone. I was on a buying trip when a cutter pulled me aside to show me a few stones that he had just completed. Right away I was thinking about all the beautiful pieces that could be made. I bought all three that day thinking to myself, the Lagoon Blue Tourmaline (indicolite) was the one that I would hold on to and wait for just the right moment of inspiration. I pulled that stone out of my personal collection almost every day for over a year when I finally felt true inspiration. Fabrication is a lengthy process if done well. I felt this beautiful stone deserved to be displayed with subtle elegance and clean lines. So it began!
"Lagoon Blue" is a Hand Fabricated Platinum Ring Featuring a 5.57ct emerald-cut lagoon tourmaline from Namibia accented in a halo of D-F VS ideal-cut Diamonds - AGTA Award winning piece 2020 - Photo Credit: Moghadam Photography
AsiaLounges: Back to the gemstones you display on your website. Is the gem selection on your website a choice of the heart or is it an answer to your market’s demand? Maybe a bit of both?
Jeremy Dunn: A bit of both. I sell gemstones at wholesale to jewellery stores and designers. I try to only carry top quality material that represents my customers’ needs. The market these days is usually after well cut, top quality gemstones. I like to carry stones that I would be proud to make into a piece or sell on the open market. If it stays in my hands, I will not be disappointed.
AsiaLounges: I assume, that you are mostly dealing at retail level. As such, could you tell us how you deal with the topic of the decade: Ethical mining, ethical businesses in general? Is this an issue to your market?
Jeremy Dunn: I work with a variety of consumers. Most of them however, are at the wholesale level.
When I am asked about how they were acquired, I explain that I source gemstones from people that I trust and at the ground level. I either source gems from the miner myself or from someone that has worked directly with the minor for many years. I do not advertise my company as being “Responsibly sourced”, as I believe that it is our responsibility to be quality human beings as much in business as in our daily lives. I always look to be ethically minded in every part of the process that I can control. No one is infallible, but I do the very best that I can.
AsiaLounges: We are slowly reaching the end of this interview and, as it is customary in our pages, we’d like to ask you to give three pieces of advice to the Loungers that would like to follow in your foot steps as well as 3 books that you believe any gem and jewellery lover should have in their library.
Jeremy Dunn: My three pieces of advise are:
Always be honest with yourself.
Take risks that may lead you to failure. You learn and grow from each of them.
Always protect your stone as best as possible while setting :)
The three books that I believe that every gem lover or jewellery lover should have in their library are:
Jewelry Concepts and Technology by Oppi Untracht. This book is technically and creatively a masterpiece of our trade. I think that every jewellery maker should own this book. It includes an incredible number of techniques and artisans.
Working With Gemstones – Bench Jewelers Guide by Arthur Anton Skuratowicz & Julie Nash . This book will help keep you out of trouble when working with a new type of stone. I recommend this to any maker new to colored stones.
Accredited works from a reputable graduate gemology program- Understanding the basics of gemology will take you a long way. I can’t tell you how meaningful and helpful it has been to become a graduate gemologist.
AsiaLounges: Thank you very much Jeremy for being with us today, I am convinced that our readers, the Loungers, have enjoyed this interview as much as we did enjoy writing these lines.
As for us, we will meet you again soon in the Lounges with more exciting content! If you have enjoyed this interview please let us know by liking, commenting and sharing our work with your family and friends on your favourite social media platform. Don't forget that you can also support A Gem Dealer's Journal through our Patreon's Page. It helps us a lot and takes but a second!
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See you again in the Lounges,