1st Place - Alternative Metals/Materials
Zoltan David has been creating impeccably crafted jewelry for more than 40 years. He received training as a goldsmith and diamond setter from Swiss and German masters before establishing his business, Zoltan David Fine Jewelry Design, in 1980. He has won numerous industry accolades, including multiple AGTA Spectrum awards and AGS Excellence Awards. This is his second first-place Saul Bell Design Award in the Alternative Metals/Materials category. Zoltan lives and works in Austin, Texas.
MARLENE RICHEY: TELL US ABOUT THE MATERIALS IN YOUR WINNING PIECE, "MOONSHINE."
ZOLTAN DAVID: Pure platinum, platinum 950, cobalt chromium steel, 316 stainless steel, D-E-F color/IF-VVS clarity, hearts and arrows ideal-cut diamonds, moonstone.
MR: WHAT PROCESSES DID YOU USE TO CREATE IT?
ZD: CAD design, casting, cold-forged fabrication, hand engraving, bead setting, proprietary finishing techniques and laser welding. A combination of high-tech tools and methods married to old-school traditional goldsmithing techniques.
MR: WHAT IS THE INSPIRATION BEHIND IT?
ZD: The beauty of moonlight reflecting on nighttime water.
MR: WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM THE PIECE?
ZD: How to manipulate light with texture, form and materials.
MR: WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT THE PIECE?
ZD: The magical alchemy of transforming black metal into moonlight reflected on water.
MR: WHEN DID YOU DISCOVER THAT YOU LOVED MAKING JEWELRY?
ZD: I have loved the creative process as far back as I can remember. I had a goal in mind for my jewelry-making career: to make exceptional work. I loved the challenge of it all, but I did not "love" making jewelry until I started to master it, and that took me about 20 years. It was at that point when I named my studio "Dancing Metals Studio" because it took that long for me to feel like I was now in control of the process. I became the choreographer, and the metals and gems became my dance team.
MR: WHEN ARE YOU MOST CREATIVE?
ZD: When I am in solitude.
MR: WHAT IS YOUR ARTIST STATEMENT/DESIGN PHILOSOPHY?
ZD: "Artists do not follow trends, they create them."
This statement must be supported with good design. For me, good jewelry design rests on a foundation of originality, functionality, durability and beauty.
MR: DESCRIBE YOUR CURRENT JEWELRY COLLECTIONS.
ZD: Duchess collection: using high-karat gold, platinum and fine rare gems, it is a couture body of work.
Elfin collection: reminiscent of art nouveau and fantasy, inspired by Lord of the Rings.
Knight Dreams: a highly technical collection of black metal married with precious metals and gems.
BronZe Age: a collection combining, through inlay, overlay and diffusion bonding, the living metal bronze with non-reactive precious metals, incorporating unusual patinas and fine gems.
MR: WHAT DID YOU FEEL WHEN YOU FOUND OUT YOU WERE A SAUL BELL WINNER?
ZD: Pleasantly surprised! I thought my piece may be a finalist, but I did not expect it to win first place because I had won first place in 2014 and to win first place twice in three years, well ... what are the odds?
MR: WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE MATERIAL TO WORK WITH?
ZD: Metals. I love the secrets of metallurgy as they are revealed to me along my way. How metals behave and why, how their characteristics can be used to my advantage and how to manipulate them. Sometimes even to make them do things that science says they can't do. Science also says bumble bees shouldn't be able to fly.
MR: ONE WORD OF ADVICE YOU RECEIVED WHEN STARTING TO MAKE JEWELRY/RUN A BUSINESS?
ZD: "Never lose momentum."
MR: WHAT ONE WORD OF ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE BEGINNING DESIGNERS?
MR: WHAT ACHIEVEMENT IN YOUR JEWELRY LIFE ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF?
ZD: I have seen a lot of talented artisans be crushed by this jungle we call the jewelry industry. I am most proud of the fact that I have been able to survive and even flourish in this challenging and unforgiving environment. My business and art continues to be vibrant and full of life.
You can see more of Zoltan's work at zoltandavid.com.
Interview by Marlene Richey