Moose Spotlight: Getting To Know Anat and Joe of Silvera Jewelry School

Jewelry designing is a form of art that will always stand the test of time. Jewelry has the power to connect with people. With that, jewelry teachers have the goal to be able to inspire jewelry students and aspiring designers to learn more about the craft and be able to teach both new and traditional techniques in jewelry-making. 

Now, Turquoise Moose luckily had a chance to get in touch with a Berkeley-based jewelry school called Silvera Jewelry School. Founded in 2010 by Anat and Joe Silvera, both of them have been teaching professional jewelry skills to their students while utilizing home studio-friendly tools.
Silvera Jewelry School as Featured on Turquoise Moose

Let’s get to know them more!

What inspired you to start Silvera Jewelry School?

Anat and Joe started teaching jewelry classes together back in 2002. They both taught at venues and shows across the country. They shared with us that they had a lot of fun teaching and loved teaching so many wonderful students. However, they had to ship hundreds of pounds of tools to each event. Logistics such as packing and unpacking became exhausting. With the idea of having their own school in mind, they loved the idea of having a place to teach with everything organized, clean, and set up well. In 2010, they moved back to the Bay Area and from there they opened Silvera Jewelry School on January 2, 2011.

How many years has your jewelry school been active?
Silvera Jewelry School Studio in Berkeley, CaliforniaSilvera Jewelry School has been open for nine and a half years, almost 10 years in Berkeley. All in all, with both of their previous traveling classes, Anat and Joe have a total of over 18 years in teaching together.

What motivates you to continue teaching?

“We love our students,” both Anat and Joe declared. They explained how they love teaching traditional jewelry techniques to new jewelers. After all these years, both Anat and Joe are still excited about jewelry. Before teaching together, the two of them had already been exposed to the world of jewelry - it’s either they’re making it or selling it.

Before the two of them got together, Anat had already been teaching jewelry for years. They also shared that whenever they get together with their staff and guest teachers to design new classes, they know that they are on the right track if they want to take the classes as well. Turns out, that happens a lot for them!

Whether it's an amazing guest teacher who's sharing their mastery of engraving, stone setting, enameling, etc, or classes combining the history of jewelry with learning techniques from that period, they shared that there's so much that's fun and interesting about teaching this ancient craft. Adding the enthusiasm of the students and the community to the mix also keeps them inspired to continue teaching.

What do you see as most rewarding about teaching classes at your school?

For Anat and Joe, being able to see a new student fall in love with creating jewelry is very rewarding, which is also true for everyone who teaches at their school. They explained, “jewelry has been taught from master to apprentice, from teacher to student for more than 7,000 years. That's a strong lineage of traditional techniques going back for millennia. Whenever the craft is passed on, the student adds to it with their inventiveness, curiosity, and creativity. They add their brilliance to the art of jewelry.”

To them, being a part of that, whenever they see the spark that gets someone thrilled about making jewelry, it makes them feel fantastic. They both stated that they have a lot of students who have gone on creating beautiful jewelry and have become full-time jewelry artists and designers.

What was your earliest memory working with jewelry?

Joe started as a Fine Arts major at university - painting and sculpture. During that time, he took a jewelry class as an elective. When he came into the metalsmithing studio, he recounted his experience as something like falling in love with the smell of forging metal immediately, “the ringing tones of rings being hammered on mandrels, and the flickering firelight of torches. Hook, line, and sinker. I can remember standing at the annealing station in school, a natural gas torch in one hand, my other hand rotating the annealing pan with my teapot bound together for soldering, the metal bathed in flux and flame.”

He stated that his first memory of working with jewelry and that specific moment is strong because it's when he truly felt like he really understood soldering. Ever since then, he has been working with jewelry!

As for Anat, she has already found jewelry early in her life. When she was 11, she learned how to solder sterling and to make her first jewelry pieces. She has learned from jewelry masters and has been making jewelry for longer.

Favorite gemstone or material to work with?

We were curious as to what kind of materials both Anat and Joe like working with. They declared their love for tourmaline and turquoise. According to them, there are so many wonderful cuts and shapes of tourmaline. In addition, as designers, the gradations of color are inspiring for them.

They also enjoy working with turquoise as it is gorgeous and has such a strong role in Southwestern jewelry and other historical periods. Also, they mentioned how it has never stopped being a popular stone choice for jewelers and customers, and its variations of color and pattern make them so beautiful.

In light of the pandemic, how does your school stay in touch with students?

We reckon how the landscape of teaching has changed due to the pandemic we are faced with at the moment. As it is a jewelry school, we asked Anat and Joe how do classes work for them and their students now. They closed their classroom back in March to help and prevent stop the spread of COVID-19. This is also to protect both teachers and students. Just like most people these days, they have pivoted to online classes and started converting to Zoom classes.

Currently, they have over 40 online jewelry classes they have created, and more new classes every month. They explained how it was a lot of work, but they still wanted to stay in touch with their students and give them something to do and look forward to during the pandemic. Their student-peer group and free speaker series JewelryTalk also moved online in order to help foster community and keep students in touch with their teachers, especially during a time that can feel isolating.

They shared that their online classes and talks have been very well received as they have managed to bring the same quality teaching they offer in-person to people's home studios. This also gave them an opportunity to reconnect with students who moved away from the Bay Area. Having students from all over the country, from Alaska to Florida, and even in other countries, taking the same class together, side by side with their teacher, learning jewelry, we could only imagine how much fun classes are!

What have been the challenges of the pandemic brought to the school? Learnings in the middle of COVID-19?

“Becoming an online school within a month of closing the classroom has been a lot of work,” they declared. Having an amazing staff of teachers and employees who all pitched in to make it happen so quickly without compromising on the quality of the classes has helped tremendously. From a physical classroom to a virtual one, they had to step up and figure out camera setups for teachers, help students set up spaces to work at home, etc.

Moreover, as they have always focused on safe tools and chemicals, and home-friendly setups, these made the transition to teaching people at home easier. To them, it felt like a logical extension of their mission. Anat and Joe have always taught students how to make jewelry in a way that they could continue in a home studio. Now, they are in their students’ home studios with them - which has been great.

Advice for rising creators? How to balance art-making with the marketing aspect of jewelry?
Silvera Jewelry School Students

“Be true to what you love to make, to your style and identity as a jewelry artist.”

They explained how jewelry has always been tied to fashion and self-expression, to symbolism, and relationships with loved ones, religion, and community. For a jeweler with a new business, now more than ever, they advised the need for a strong representation of how one’s jewelry fits into these traditional and changing roles. They added that jewelers are part of important events of people's lives such as engagements, weddings, personal milestones of great meaning, etc.

Anat and Joe mentioned how it can be easy getting lost in these roles; to lose track of one’s design identity, to conform to classical styles that aren't a jeweler’s style. One of the most important pieces of advice they said is that even if the commission is for a wedding ring with a feature diamond and channel settings, a jeweler can still make their design something that looks like their work, equipped with their voice.

With this, the personal brand has to come across in one’s jewelry, the choice of stones, the photos posted, the style and color palette of one’s website, promotional materials, and packaging - even how a jeweler dresses and presents themselves at shows. They highlighted how important it is to work on the following from the beginning so as to let a jeweler’s customers easily identify the jewelry artist and their work.

The future of jewelry-making and artisanship? How does the mission of your school fit into this?

“Jewelry straddles high tech and traditional craft. It was predicted around 20 years ago that jewelry students would be graduating who had never touched metal, all of their work was made on the computer. It happened faster than they imagined!” they stated.

Anat and Joe also explained that at present, CAD and 3D design are important parts of jewelry, and are not just for factories or mass productions. Design software for jewelry is accessible to individuals as well. However, they explained that technology has not dominated the craft,

“Think of all the different types of jewelry out there today: fine jewelry and costume, handmade and art jewelry, gold, silver, iron, brass, bronze, copper, etc. Our mission is to make sure that our students are educated with traditional techniques and also aware of high tech solutions.” At Silvera Jewelry School, Anat and Joe both want their students to be hands-on with tools, metal, and tech. They offer various classes in casting, fabrication, stone setting, and enamel. They also had teachers come and teach students in using jewelry software such as 3Design.

* * *

We truly enjoy connecting with jewelry schools who not only have a penchant for jewelry making, but also an incredible and genuine passion for teaching jewelry. Building communities with people who share the same love for this craft is amazing!

Silvera Jewelry School
List of online jewelry classes
Watch a video of Joe setting a turquoise with the lost wax casting technique

1 comment

I have taken many classes at Silvera Jewelry school, and they are the BEST! Take a class (or three) with them – you won’t regret it. Lovely people, wonderful teachers.

Martha P September 01, 2020

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