July 11, 2018 0 Comments

Earlier this month we shared the history of Master Tradesmen. Today we are going to share the history of the family behind the jewelry.

It started at Renaissance Festivals. Pewter figurines were our stock in trade in the eighties, and slowly Angelo Roncari began adding necklaces, then earrings. As interest grew in the smaller pieces, he found satisfaction in making jewelry baubles with sparkling crystal and bright colors. And while he added to this collection, his young daughters helped craft and assemble.

 

A chance encounter led Angelo into lost wax casting, and he made his first silver rings shortly after. Sarah remembers these clearly- a silver cobra wrapped around the finger, set with garnet, and a freeform band set with Arizona peridot.

 

Creating silver jewelry led easily into goldsmithing.

Once Angelo had established a small shop in Tucson, he began providing jewelry and watch repair services to the neighborhood. He learned as he went, and trained Julie, Emily and Sarah as they reached adolescence. While most children went to school, played sports, and did ‘kid’ things, we learned to solder silver, polish rings, and sculpt wax.

 

jeweler making custom jewelry

Emily Nichols works on jewelry at her goldsmith’s bench

Throughout all of this, we continued to create and sell at Renaissance Faires. Angelo and Sarah crafted design lines while Emily and Julie cast and finished metal.

Lost wax casting jeweler silver rings.

Jason holds a ‘tree’ of freshly cast Michigan rings.

Adding custom jewelry to our repertoire of knowledge seemed the next apparent step. Angelo began taking orders from clients and crafting rings and necklaces. As he and Karen worked, once again, they trained their daughters. We became familiar with client interface- interpreting customer needs and creating physical solutions. When Wexford Jewelers opened in Cadillac, Michigan in 1995, the entire family set about to build a legacy of service to the local community. Once we became familiar with the internet, our reach grew to a global market.

 

white-gold-marquise-diamond-wedding-ring-leaf-vine

Leaf and Vine ring designed by Jason Nichols

And here we are in 2018. Angelo has passed on and Karen has retired. Emily, Julie and Sarah each have 25 years or more of experience making the perfect engagement ring. We’ve dragged our husbands into the business at various times. We’ve repaired enough of our own (and other jewelers’) work to know what shapes hold up to wear. We know down to a millimeter what prong style will hold one gemstone better than another, what bezel will dull a diamond’s sparkle and which one will accentuate it. Design lines that have come to life under our hands have been shipped to every corner of this earth. We’ve made rings for the children of our original clients, meaning this second generation of jewelers is serving a second generation of collectors!

 

Rose Gold Champagne Sapphire Split Chain Pendant, Madeline

Rose gold necklace designed by Julie Terwilliger.

Of course, we are still learning. Computer-aided design and printing have come alongside hand-sculpted models at a rapid pace. We are always learning better versions of soldering, polishing, and metallurgy. But we feel safe saying that we have a mastery of our craft that you can trust.

Because our passion is design.