The Jeweler's Work Bench
For centuries jewelers sat at their workbench as they crafted beautiful jewelry from precious metals and gemstones. Surrounded by the tools of their craft, their work benches often had many small compartments to store all of the things needed for jewelry making and repair.
These master craftsmen honed their fine skills during years of apprenticeship at the side of a master jeweler that taught them the delicate art of jewelry making. For example, Ricky C. Tanno a jeweler in Cleveland, Ohio began his career in 1914 sweeping the floor of a jewelry business. There he learned his craft and opened his own store, which is now run by his sons, in 1929. A picture of Mr. Tanno working at his workbench in 1940 shows the machinery surrounding the antique workbench that are needed for jewelry making. To view a larger version of the picture, scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the last picture on the right.
Renewed Interest in the Art of Being a Bench Jeweler
As years passed and times changed, the art of the bench jeweler took a back seat to mass-produced jewelry and jewelry names that were advertised heavily. Many jewelry store owners, who were the bench jewelers of their stores, stopped handcrafting unique pieces and stepped into the front of their stores to sell pre-made jewelry to their customers. For the most part, their workbenches remained unoccupied with the exception of jewelry repairs and the occasional hand-crafted piece.
Over the last several decades, there has been a resurgence of bench jewelers and their highly specialized art. Sitting at their workbench, these jewelry artists are often located in full view of the customers, including the jewelry store's front window. A bench jeweler must be adept at many skills including:
- Jewelry fabrication
- Jewelry design
- Wax carving
- Lost wax casting
- Gold smiting
- Silver smithing
- Stone setting
- Platinum work
Today jewelers can earn a degree as a bench jeweler and order a new workbench online. But many of these artists want to learn from a master jeweler as an apprentice, just as their predecessors did in bygone days. They want to sit at an antique jeweler's work bench and feel the energy from the artists that created beautiful one of a kind pieces at the same table they are using to create their unique works.
Examples of Antique Jewelers Work Benches or Cabinets
- A unique example of a two station jeweler's work table from the 1920s is pictured on the Apartment Therapy website in an antique store they profiled called Obsolete Antiques. To view this unusual jeweler's table scroll down to the second picture.
Through the years jewelers have worked their craft at antique jeweler's work benches or cabinets, creating jewelry pieces that highlight their expertise, excellence and love of their art.