Are you an Engraver, Jeweler, or Stone Setter?
I am all three. I work full time as a bench jeweler, optical diamond setter, and hand engraver.
How long have you been an Engraver/Jeweler/Stone Setter?
I have been working at the bench professionally for five and a half years.
How did you first become interested in Engraving/Jewelry/Stone Setting?
Jewelry has been a lifelong passion for me. The first piece of jewelry I ever got was at the age of five from a market in Mexico while on a family vacation. It was a glass pendant. From then on, I was always drawn to the art of adornment.
How did you learn this set of skills? What training have you pursued?
I obtained my set of skills through a few different schools and training centers. In 2013, I started my Graduate Jeweler program at the Gemological Institute of America in Carlsbad, CA (GIA). After completing that course, I obtained my Graduate Gemologist degree. Over the course of the following few years, I took hand engraving classes at the GRS Training Center with Todd Daniels, Rex Pedersen with Sandy Popovich, and Sam Alfano. In 2018, I crossed the globe and earned my Optical Diamond Setting degree at the Alexandre School in Antwerp, Belgium.
Please describe your work history/experience since you began metalworking.
My first job in the trade was at Alchemy in Portland, Oregon. My mentor, David Iler, took me under his wing when I graduated from GIA. I spent three years there, learning the ins and outs of how a fine jewelry boutique runs. I was able to gain experience with high-end custom design and manufacturing, jewelry repair, sales, and client relations. It was a great environment to hone my skills and cut my teeth in the industry. After leaving Alchemy and studying in Antwerp, my partner Tessa Crowther and I launched Guzzon Luxury. I’ve been working full time with GL for the last two years.
What advice would you give an artist that is debating taking the risk to start a business?
My most important advice would be to go work for someone else first. The experience you will get is invaluable. You’re going to make mistakes. Make them for the first time on someone else’s clock. There’s no way GL could have opened if Tessa and I hadn’t worked in the business first. If you’ve already worked for someone, and feel ready to make the leap, do it. It’s never going to seem like the perfect time. You can always go back out and get a job if it doesn’t work out.
My most important advice would be to go work for someone else first. The experience you will get is invaluable.
Your Instagram says the stones you use are ethically-sourced stones and the metal is 100% recycled. Why is this important to you?
We believe this industry has been hiding behind a luxurious front for far too long. We want people to understand that there are a lot of unethical standards that have been practiced for so long, and we do not stand by that. We also want people to know they don’t have to be afraid of fine jewelry and gemstones. More and more companies are practicing safer, healthier, and more sustainable standards across the whole industry, and we love to see it. We are proud to source our materials from people who work together, get paid fairly, and use mining practices that don’t completely ruin their environment. The industry still has a long way to go, but we are proud to be a small company that is taking the right steps towards a more honest, transparent, and safe industry.
How do you source these materials?
We have established accounts with a handful of vendors that we rely on for sourcing. Our metals come from a US company that is third-party certified to sell 100% recycled materials. Our gemstones come from a few different companies, both big and small, that adhere to international trade practices and maintain ethical standards. We like to keep our supply chain circle pretty tight. When we find a vendor we like, we typically stick with them. Even if that means we might forgo the absolute best price on something. Maintaining relationships is vital in this business.
You work with your wife, who is also a bench jeweler — is your work collaborative or separate?
Tessa and I have a collaborative work style. We have very compatible personalities and that translates well into our design and work methods. We do have our own individual tastes and styles, but they often go well with one another.
Out of everything you have worked on, do you have a favorite project? What is your most memorable project? Why are these your favorite/most memorable?
That’s a tough question. I’ve had the privilege to work on some incredible and interesting pieces. I have worked on an Olympic medal, a sapphire intaglio ring that dated back to ancient times, and some incredibly fine colored stones. A piece I’ve personally made that is memorable was last year when I got to hand-fabricate a cathedral-style ring for a two-carat oval diamond. I did everything, from milling the metal, drawing wire for the prongs, all the way to the stone layout, all done by hand. This was the first high-end fabrication job I created after we started GL, and one of the first pieces that I got to employ my optical diamond setting skills that I had just learned from Alexandre. Because of that, it will always be memorable.
Where do you go for inspiration? Are there particular artists that inspire you?
My biggest inspirations are usually outside of jewelry. Architecture is massively important to me for inspiration. When I was in Antwerp, I took photos of every door that caught my eye so that I could put them into a collection of inspiration. I am also largely influenced by graphic design, painting, and other visual mediums. Andy Gilmore is a favorite digital artist of mine. He utilizes a ton of geometry and some really interesting color theory. His work resonates with me a lot because I can typically translate it to pavé layouts. I pretty much try to translate everything I see into pavé layouts or engraving patterns. Some of my favorite words are, “I should engrave that!”
When creating a new piece of work, what process do you go through (sketches, research, etc.)?
My process for creating a new piece is varied and fluid. I am most influenced by things I see while out and about. Most often, these are architectural influences or even the angle of a wall or street light. I also do a lot of designing in my mind while I am cycling. Sometimes, if a piece has a theme or motif (numbers, symbols, etc.), I will dive into some research. Most often, I design based on what I see and feel. I do enjoy sketching out ideas, but oftentimes I just go straight to metal.
What are your interests outside of jewelry and engraving?
I am an avid cyclist and spend as much time as possible on my bike. I have joined a team and plan to start racing in the spring of 2021. I am massively into music and everything that comes with it, including collecting vinyl, going to live shows, and obsessing over tracks and mixes. I also enjoy traveling with Tessa and our dogs, hiking, camping, shooting photography, and cooking.
Does that outside interest inform or influence your creativity in any way?
Absolutely! I’m always blown away by the amount of ideas and concepts that flow from my mind and heart while I am on my bike. I always joke that I wish I had someone with a notepad riding next to me so that I could get all the ideas down on paper. I need to try out voice memos or something like that. Music definitely influences my creativity as well. I like to see music, visually. I used to paint to music, letting beats and melodies guide my paintbrush. So I apply the same concept to jewelry design. I currently have a piece in the design phase that is a visual representation of Jody Wisternoff’s entire ‘Nightwhisper’ album where each track provides an individual design element.
What are your goals/dream projects?
My goal is to win an AGTA Spectrum Award. I would also like to have a piece on permanent display at the GIA headquarters in Carlsbad, CA.
Where do you see the future of jewelry and hand engraving?
I see the future of jewelry coming back to recognize the value and romance of hand-crafted, bench-made jewelry. The onset of technology in the jewelry industry, while interesting and impressive at one time, has caused us to turn our backs on some of the ways that jewelry had been made for hundreds of years. This is why GL has committed to hand-fabricating our pieces. On the contrary, I think the art of hand engraving has massively benefited from the onset of technology. The use of a microscope and a pneumatic machine has been a complete game-changer and one that allowed me to obtain that skill much quicker than I could have 30 years ago. All in all, I see the future appreciating and revering the hand-crafted work of the craftswoman and craftsman.
If you could pass one bit of advice on to other artists, what would it be?
Work from your heart. There is always room to grow and new things to learn. When you’re in an uncomfortable place with your art, lean into it. That’s when you know you are growing. Love more, fear less.
Is there anything else that you would like to share?
I would like to thank the GRS family for providing one of the finest training environments in the United States. I had no idea that I’d be joining a family of artists, instructors, and employees when I started the journey of the hand engraver all those years ago. From that first step I took inside the building, I have felt complete and total support as an artist. Huge shout-out to Otis, the absolute man, as well as my birthday twin. Otis has been there for me any time I have ever needed anything or ever had a problem. Another shout-out to Chris, who had the vision and the faith to ship a bunch of GoPro cameras to a group of long-haired hand engravers so they could document the journey to class. Thanks to Todd, Rex, Sandy, and Sam for teaching me their ways. When I look back on the small taste of success I have had as an artist, I know it wouldn’t have been possible without you, my GRS family. I am forever grateful!
There is always room to grow and new things to learn. When you’re in an uncomfortable place with your art, lean into it. That’s when you know you are growing.
Following a lifelong passion, Adam Guzzon pursued a career in jewelry, earning both his Graduate Jeweler and Graduate Gemologist Degrees from the Gemological Institute of America. He spent three years working at Alchemy, one of the most iconic jewelry stores in the Pacific Northwest. Adam has taken part in three private courses at the GRS Training Center with Todd Daniels, Rex Pedersen & Sandy Popovich, and Sam Alfano. In 2018, he studied under Master Setter Alexandre Sidorov and earned the Optical Diamond Setting Degree. He and his partner Tessa Crowther launched Guzzon Luxury and have been working there full-time for the last two years.