I always enjoy spending time at our Rhode Island workshops with the talented craftspeople who begin with a ladle of molten pewter. Watching as that metal is poured into a mold, hardened, polished, plated, and finally ready to be adorned with enamel and stones is fascinating.

Rhode Island has a heritage of producing jewelry. The process we use to make our designs is very similar to how earrings or brooches might be made. The biggest difference is in the scale; our designs are big, complex and continuously push the boundaries of metal making.

The standard black rubber molds, normally an inch high, are now stacked to 6-8 inches to accommodate the depth of the new peacock bowl, angel stand, and pagoda box roof. Rooms are set aside to store hundreds of these archival molds.

The metal is poured into these spinning molds, filling all the carved-out areas. I watched as these men struggled to pull the hardened metal out of these molds, sometimes taking two men to work together on one mold!

The metal is at first rough, and needs to be polished and shaped. Often, separate parts need to be soldered together to form the whole design.

At this point the raw pewter can be plated, by applying a coating of gold or silver to the surface. Each piece is individually wired on racks and slowly put through a series of baths to apply the metal finishes.

The design is now ready for enameling and individually setting each crystal (“stoning”). While most of this adorning is completed in Union Springs, New York, some of our more intricate designs are worked on by a group of artisans in Warwick, Rhode Island. I have been very fortunate that many of them have worked with me for over fifteen years. Last week I watched as they began stoning Alexander, our wonderful new camel figurine.

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6 Responses to Rhode Island Workshops

  1. Manreet says:

    Incredible castings that need so much skill and expertise!

  2. Wonderful story and wonderful Rhode Island…so pleased that the home of Coro and countless other great brands is still buzzing along producing incredibly beautiful objects but none more beautiful than yours! Now, how do I sign up to subscribe to your blog? All best, Monte Mathews

  3. sandra farrell says:

    HI Do conduct tours for the public Thank you Sandra

  4. Carol says:

    A big Jay Strongwater fan, but deeply disappointed you are making your product more and more in China!

    • Admin says:

      Hi CAROL,

      Thank you for being a great Jay Strongwater collector! I always enjoy traveling and meeting collectors like yourself when I visit stores. Often, people want to know where our pieces are made. I explain that myself, and the designers who work with me, create each style in our New York City studio. We then work with our model makers in Rhode Island to carve the original model or physical prototype. I have always been inspired to model our workshops after the historical ateliers of Faberge or Cartier. The idea is that we work with talented artisans all over the world to bring our visions to life. Most times, that continues to be in Rhode island and New York. For our glass designs, we are currently working with two glass blowing workshops, one in Portugal and one in Taiwan. Our very large metal designs, like the grand peacock bowl, are first cast in India, and then once we receive them in New York, we continue to add the jeweled details and layers of enamel to make it Jay Strongwater. When we have a design that I hope can be a Great Gift — that wonderful hostess gift or birthday gift — I will sometimes consider crafting the whole design in Asia. I always like to have designs in the collection that are accessible to new collectors who are just getting to know Jay Strongwater. While most of our products are made in the U.S., the reality of our world today is that you have to be open to sourcing and making designs all over the world. But no matter where we work, we are always celebrating a pair of very talented hands that has worked his or her individual talents on a Jay Strongwater design.