Jewelry is an international language, existing across all cultures, crossing all borders. I recently had the pleasure of visiting with Ronda Coryell and Vasken Tanielian, longtime friends of Rio Grande, in that beautiful hub of creativity, Austin, Texas.
I quickly recognized this recurring theme in Ronda’s tales: Jewelry, across the globe. (We talked over a meal of sushi, no less.) So, like an excited child asks for, please, just one more story, I asked her to share a little about her international jewelry travels. Below is the tale she shared; thanks, Ronda!
—Amy CliserI have encountered people worldwide who know me from my teaching, lecturing and DVD sales through Rio Grande.
While I was in Florence, Italy, last summer, a woman who lives in Venezuela sat next to me at dinner one night. I knew she did not speak any English; however, she looked at me and said in utter surprise:
“Yes?” I said.
And her reply?
“DVDs, DVDs, DVDs!”
She had ordered my DVDs from Rio Grande! And here we were, meeting in Italy, over 5,000 miles from my home. I love the connections that happen in the jewelry community in the most unexpected places around the globe.
I will be going to Europe again this summer, marking my 11th year. Through our school, Jewelry Studies International, in Austin, Texas, I have students meet me in the far corners of the globe.
Ever since winning the Saul Bell Design Award in 2002, I continue to receive recognition worldwide and have had the opportunity to travel every year. My business partner, Vasken Tanielian, and I named our new school “Jewelry Studies International” because that is we want to do: Unite the worldwide jewelry community, with J.S.I. as a destination in Austin and with our travel programs teaching jewelry in other countries.
Uniting the world is getting easier to do with the technology we have today. Communication is even available in the most remote parts of Bali. They may not have running water, but they have cell phones and many have computers. And of course, they have mail delivery. I was delighted when a Balinese woman emerged from her hut with a Rio Grande catalog that was ten years old!
I also love seeing the different tools and workbenches that exist across cultures. For example, when I taught Balinese metalsmiths to alloy different colors of gold, their torches were gasoline with a foot pump. I packed a Foredom Flex Shaft in my suitcase so that I could introduce them to stone setting using burs and a hammer handpiece. They were afraid of the electrical tools at first, but were smiling from ear to ear by the time I left.