Home » The Art of Silver Jewelry with Master Jeweler Eric Messin

The Art of Silver Jewelry with Master Jeweler Eric Messin

Debra C Argen, Edward F Nesta - photo by Luxury Experience
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Throughout the years, The Adventure Kids® aka Debra C. Argen and Edward F.Nesta of Luxury Experience have had exciting and diverse adventures. Our latest adventure involved learning the art of hand-crafting silver jewelry with Master Jeweler Eric Messin in the historic 1686 Pelletreau Silver Shop in Southampton, New York offered in conjunction with the Southampton History Museum. The added reward of this adventure was bringing home our stunning silver jewelry creations!

Adventure Kids ready to learn about silver making

On Saturday, March 7, 2020, we had another amazing adventure! This time our adventure did not require specialized sports equipment, but rather specialized tools of the jewelry craft, namely saws, files, shaping blocks, and blow torches! We arrived at the Pelletreau Silver Shop, which was built in 1686 and is the "oldest continuously open trade shop in the Americas,"and were excited to learn the proud tradition of the art of creating finely crafted silver jewelry with Master Jeweler Eric Messin.

Pellatreau Silver Shop - photo by Luxury Experience
Pelletreau Silver Shop

As way of a background, Eric Messin began as an artist, gradually moved into sculpture, and found that he loved working in 3-D materials and gravitated to making jewelry. His prior training and work as an artist help him to be able to illustrate his designs and translate a client’s ideas into presentable designs for his custom work. A master jeweler with 35 years of experience, he worked for several years in the top jewelry houses in New York, and like many New Yorkers, spent his weekends traveling to The Hamptons. Fifteen years ago, he moved to Southampton where he creates unique custom jewelry for discerning clientele in a charmingly quaint shop.

Sawing silver sheet - Edward F Nesta - photo by Luxury Experience
Edward sawing his silver disks

On occasion, Eric Messin offers silver classes to small groups, and when we learned that there was an upcoming 2-hour class in March, we eagerly signed up to learn the art of making silver jewelry from a master jeweler. Our project was to make silver stud earrings in two sizes. One of us would make smaller stud earrings, and the other one would make larger stud earrings. After providing detailed instructions on the tools that we would be using and how to safely use them, Eric provided each of us with a thin sheet of silver.

Filing Silver studs - photo by Luxury Experience
Debra filing her silver disks

Sitting at our work benches, the first step was to use a protractor and lightly score 2 same size circles on our sheets of silver; these circular disks would become the earrings. Next, we held the thin sheet of silver scored with the circles in our left hand and slowly cut around the circles by holding a small, thin bladed saw in our right hand, and sawing vertically through the silver. Easier said than done, this step took quite a long time to complete, as one of us (Debra) kept breaking the blade, requiring the blade to keep being replaced. However, we persevered until we each had cut out our 2 circles. Now came the task of filing the edges of the silver disks. Try imagining what it would be like to use a metal file on a teeny, tiny disk to smooth the edges! This was another challenging task, but we managed to file the edges without filing our hands or nails in the process.

Punch Box for silver sheet - Debra C Argen - photo by Luxury Experience
Punch Box

Now that the edges of the silver disks were smooth, we used torches to heat the metal and then place one of the disks in a "punch box," which is a square block with several round indentations of various sizes. We started by placing one of the disks in one of the larger indentations and using a specially designed metal die and a hammer we tapped the disk into the concave indentation. Next, we placed the disk into a somewhat smaller indentation and using a smaller metal die we repeated the process of hammering the disk into the form. We continued the process of transferring the disk to smaller cup-shaped indentations until the desired shape and size was obtained. One stud shaped, on to the next!

Attaching silver posts to silver studs - photo by Luxury Experience
Heating stems to attach to studs

Under Eric’s careful tutelage, we learned how to sand the earrings, attach the stems for the earrings using flux and solder, acid wash the silver and polish the earrings to create a brilliant shine. When we were finished, we had each created a hand-crafted stunning piece of jewelry, which (Debra) will enjoy wearing for many years to come.

Polishing silver studs - Edward F Nesta - photo by Luxury Experience
Polishing the finished product

After our class, we spent time admiring the beautiful custom jewelry that Eric had created including a breathtakingly large topaz in an exquisite setting nestled on an unique reversible silver necklace that could be worn on its smooth side, or reversed to display its intricate patterned side, allowing the wearer several ways to wear this magnificent piece of handcrafted silver jewelry.

Debra C Argen wearing Eric Messin's Topaz Silver Necklace - photo by Luxury Experience
Debra Argen with Topaz Silver Necklace

Eric Messin - Topaz Silver Necklace
Topaz Silver Necklace
by Eric Messin

Thank you to Master Jeweler Eric Messin for taking the time to provide The Adventure Kids® aka Debra C. Argen and Edward F. Nesta of Luxury Experience with an amazing adventure learning the tradition of making hand-crafted stunning silver jewelry. After spending several hours together, we came away with a much greater appreciation of the artistry, talent, creativity, and patience required to create hand-crafted jewelry of excellence.

Eric Messin and Edward F Nesta - photo by Luxury Experience
Eric Messin and Edward Nesta

The Pelletreau Silver Shop is open year-round from Tuesday through Saturday from 11:00 am until 4:00 pm. There is no admission fee. Classes are offered as a single class, four classes, or eight classes.

Silver Stud - Debra C Argen - photo by Luxury Experience
She wears it well!

Silver  Studs - custom made - photo by Luxury Experience

To lear nmore about Eric Messin, Artist Jeweler, please call or email him.

Until our next adventure!

Eric Messin - Southampton, New York

Pelletreau Silver Shop
80 Main Street
Southampton, NY 11968
United States
Email: emessin@yahoo.com
Website: www.SouthamptonHistory.org
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Eric-Messin-Jewelry-137395969641616/

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