Susan Panciera Jewelry Studio

Susan Panciera Jewelry Studio

About The Artist

Susan Panciera • St Peter, MN

Balance. Metal, Tools, Hands. At age 17 I picked up a pair of pliers, a hammer, and a piece of silver, and in my chaotic teenage mind, it all made sense. 35 years on, I still find calm in resting my eye on an unexpected yet balanced curve or pattern, in art or in nature. For millennia, we have used our hands and simple tools to form metal into jewelry to be worn and shared. Precious elements, gathered from earth, formed into art. This is my contribution. I hope it brings joy. -SP


Artist website

Q&A with the Artist

Tell us how your work is made.

I work in argentium sterling silver and high karat golds, using traditional fabrication techniques. My specialty is cold-forging, hammering the metal to form dynamic designs. I use mostly low-tech tools, beginning with my hands, with pliers, hammer and stake, a mini-torch for soldering, sandpaper and polishing wheels for finishing. I am trained in stone-setting, and enjoy custom and one-of-a-kind pieces with precious and semi-precious stones and pearls. I work in limited series, but am also continually playing with the metal to create new designs.

What makes you passionate about the medium you work with?

I began working in sterling silver in 1987, moved to high-karat gold a few years later and fell in love with its characteristics - it forges beautifully, solders cleanly, is durable and beautiful. The price of gold skyrocketed in the turn of the century, at the same time as I launched my solo studio after years of working for others. Argentium Sterling is a relatively new alloy of fine silver and germanium. Its selling point is that it is comparatively tarnish resistant, but what I like most is that it forges and solders more closely to gold. Though I didn't consider this when I began working in metal, I am so pleased that my medium is of the earth - elemental, natural, recycled, and recyclable.

What is something unique about you or your practice?

The first piece of handmade jewelry I bought at age 17 was from an artist who would become my first teacher. It was a simple pendant, but what struck me was that the design continued on the back. She told me, "finishing the back is as important as the front", and I continue with that idea in my work. Many of my designs are meant to be viewed from all sides, as a sculpture rather than a 2D image. I use traditional tools and techniques, but specialize in cold-forging. I strive to create jewelry that could not be easily mass-produced. I often make jewelry that can be worn in different ways, and make earrings with integrated earwires, so that the function is part of the form.