We have a special treat for you today as we are interviewing our pal, Jason Marchiafava, Tiffany & Co´s history's first and only Master Craftsman.
So, without any further delay, let´s jump in this impressive story!
Here is Jason hard at work on the jeweler´s bench
AsiaLounges: Hi Jason, first of all thank you very much for agreeing to make some time for us! If you don´t mind, we´ll start with our traditional introduction: Who are you Jason Marchiafava?
Jason Marchiafava: Hello. I am a third generation jeweler and grew up in my family’s jewelry store. I found my passion with jewellery making very early on in my career. After I graduated from school, I decided to travel and learn high jewellery making arts and dive deeper into the manufacturing process. This adventure led me to learn and develop key skills and meet a lot of amazing people from many aspects of our trade. I have spent a lot of time in two worlds in particular; in the world of an artist, and the other in jewelry manufacturing as a corporate executive. Overall, I am a professional jewellery nerd by trade.
AsiaLounges: How did you come to the world of jewellery making? I mean about your time before Tiffany´s?
Jason Marchiafava: I started my first jewellery apprenticeship in my family’s jewellery store when I was very young. I literally started at the bottom and did most tasks that no one else wanted to do. I was eleven years old and seeing what the professional jewellers did fascinated me. In my eyes these artisans were being paid to play with fire and using small tools to create beautiful things. Not long after, I was taught to melt gold, and form wire and sheet stock, and I fell in love with this process. When I was around 15 years old, I started buying and collecting colored gemstones from the dealers that came into the store. Looking back all these years later, this was an amazing time in my life. This is how it all started for me.
AsiaLounges: Could you help our readers understand the difference between what you do, Hand made jewellery and say, what the vast majority of the market uses nowadays: cast based jewellery?
Jason Marchiafava: Handmade or hand fabricated jewellery is a very old manufacturing style. It is the traditional way of creating high jewelry from simple wire and sheet metals. Meaning, no wax, no casting, no mold, and no CAD. It is quite a slow process, but each piece is one of a kind, created from scratch and with love.
I certainly don’t see anything wrong with conventional manufacturing methods as I have spent many years in the manufacturing world as well. I choose to work this way exclusively because it is where I find my passion as well as my particular customer base.
AsiaLounges: Out of all the pieces of jewellery you have created so far, is there one or more pieces that you might take a particular pride in?
Jason Marchiafava: I have two projects in particular that were completed circa 2006-2007.
One is a platinum, diamond, Quahog, and conch pearl necklace. It features 5cts of diamond, handmade platinum construction, and some of the rarest known pearls of their size and quality. The design for the ambidextrous claps were inspired by Maserati suspension linkage, and the pearls are removable from the back via handmade screws and hidden trap doors.
The other is a Winchester model 21 shotgun. It is serial number 644 and was produced the second year Winchester was in business in 1932. The Winchester model 21 is historically considered the finest American shotgun in terms of quality of its time. The adornments employed feature over 5oz of 24K inlay and sculpted gold overlay. Photorealistic bulino hand engraved scenes, along with exhibition grade scrollwork, deep relief sculpted ornaments, and handmade and sculpted screws.
Both required significant planning, materials acquisition, and approximately 1000 hours each to complete.
In my 20’s I had the opportunity to study Bulino Engraving on fine shotguns in Gardone Val Trompia, Italy. When I initially met the masters there, the first thing that struck me was the level of detail and the amount of time they spend on one piece. My first thought was this was impossible. I didn’t understand at the time that the discipline required to do this type of work needed conditioning. Similar to athletic training for running a marathon in order to see a project to completion. For me these two projects signify this milestone in my life. Both maturity and patience in creating to sum it up in simple terms.
AsiaLounges: I think it would be interesting for our readers to know how does the creation process happen? By that I mean, where do you normally take your inspiration from?
Jason Marchiafava: Great question. The first half of my inspiration is that my education is from a very old world, and my teachers were in some respects the last of their kind. I personally look to antique floral ornamentation for inspiration but always make in my own style. The intention is of preserving my teachers’ legacy to live on through my work.
The second half of my inspiration comes from the gemstone itself. I always start with the main stone(s) in hand and just spend time thinking about how to build the design around it to enhance the fascination or focal point of the piece. The metal work around it only exists to compliment or enhance the gemstone. A synonymous relationship if you will.
AsiaLounges: We were wondering if, like us, you have favored materials, some that you are kind of reluctant to work with etc. And if yes, could you tell us why you made such a choice?
Jason Marchiafava: Generally, I almost exclusively work in Platinum and 18K gold. These are my favorite metals for two reasons: One, I can get them to do what I want in terms of the creating process. Two, my love is in the process of forming, cutting, and sculpting settings for gemstones. These two metals give me the most satisfaction in this area. After this would be the metal’s color and the feel combined with the stones.
As I almost exclusively work with color, this is also a love for me. The romance and intensity of vivid saturation is inspiring. A diamond’s place in my heart is simply in accent stones. Although I do work with large diamonds on occasion, I just prefer color.
Reluctances for me would be in palladium, and white gold alloys.
The main reason for white gold, I personally feel gold is meant to be that magical gold in color or a complimentary color, but this is only my personal preference.
Palladium has a similar working property as platinum, but the density is what I don’t prefer. I want the piece to feel dense and solid when it is complete. The look of the jewellery is only half of the success in my opinion. How it feels, and the functionality when worn makes up that other half.
For gemstones, a reluctance would be color treated diamonds, in the form of irradiation or other color altering processes.
Color treated gemstones such as Beryllium Diffusion, or similar makes me shy away from that market as well. As the precious nature of the natural gem, I believe it should match the work going into a handmade piece.
I am not referring to say normal Heat treatments, on say sapphire and ruby, or even insignificant oil in emeralds. Unstable, or dramatically altered commercial materials would be something I would generally turn down working with. I try to focus on classic design paired with classic gems.
AsiaLounges: You are not only a master jeweller but also a master metal carver. I understand you recently launched a series of master classes in DVD, can you tell us more about it? Can anyone go through the set or is it geared toward a particular audience?
Jason Marchiafava: I recently published a 4 DVD set called “The Art of Ornamental Jewelry Engraving”. It is the complete video training class that I have been teaching for more than 15 years at New Approach School for Jewelers. It is for anyone interested in the hand engraving arts overall. The video was designed to be beneficial to help both professionals or hobbyist to begin learning about hand engraving jewellery.
Check out this short interview of Jason´s about his DVD set and who its aimed at or check this link to get yours now
AsiaLounges: We are kind of reaching the end of this interview now and I guess it is about time for us to ask you what is your next step? What´s your next big project?
Jason Marchiafava: For the past 18 months I have been reconnecting with the industry after 6.5 years in the corporate world and overall it has been great. I recently completed building my jewellery making and filming studio located just outside of Nashville, Tennessee. I intend on creating more educational content about the jewellery that I make and the techniques that I use. About half of my time I spend in Bangkok Thailand, building an office may make logistical sense in the future, but we will see. 2019 will be an exciting year for sure.
Sneak a pic inside the JFAVA Studio in Nashville, Tennessee
AsiaLounges: Last but not least, how can all our interested readers contact you? How can they follow your work and at which show might they be able to find you this year?
Jason Marchiafava: I don’t have any plans on exhibiting in shows this year but will most likely attend Tucson, JCK Las Vegas, and Hong Kong. 2020 I will look into exhibiting logistics. I have a personal website that serves more as a portfolio, but I am probably most active on Instagram: @jasonfava or LinkedIn: Jason Marchiafava
AsiaLounges: Thanks a lot for your time with us today Jason! As for us Loungers, we´ll keep you posted about our next interviews, trips and offers through our weekly news letters and social media posts! As per usual, feel free to like, comment and share everything you see in any of your venues for your opinion interests us and we definitely want to know what makes you shake!
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See you soon in the Lounges,