Shaping Up the Jewelry Making & Repair Program

January 1, 2017
R. Scott Reedy

Ann Cahoon

When a personal friendship brought Starr Moore to North Bennet Street School 16 years ago, another enduring relationship was launched between Starr, an Atlanta-based jeweler and graduate gemologist, and the School itself.

“One of my good friends, Rosemary Trainor JM ’91 (the recently retired Jewelry Making & Repair [JM] Department Head), was teaching a two-week course in jewelry making, and I came to Boston to take it to get a sense of the metalsmith part of jewelry-making. I found that I do not have the hand skills to be a metalsmith, and the key there is definitely hand skills,” recalls Starr. “The day I started was the same day Rosemary became Department Head of the JM program at NBSS. I’d known Rosemary for years and we were already good friends.”

Good friends, of course, tell us what they really think.

“When I walked in, the Jewelry Making & Repair program was not as good as it could be. The rooms were filthy and unkempt. I like to leave places better than I find them, so in the afternoons I got soap, water, and rags. I cleaned and I also organized. I could see the need for additional equipment to teach students additional significant skills. NBSS had never taught casting, so with Rosemary’s blessing, I bought the necessary equipment for the Department. Just cleaning and suggesting they add casting equipment were important first steps.”

Hammering skillsStarr—honored last year at NBSS with a plaque that reads, in part, “with gratitude for her vision and support”—has also shared the benefit of her own industry background and experience.”You can’t be a metalsmith without knowing how to handle gemstones, so I and other gemstone dealers made sure that they had gemstones. I also provided a ‘gemstone library’ in a display case of many types of stones,” says Starr.

New Department Head (as of June 2016) Ann Cahoon JM ’02 values Starr’s input.

“One of the really unique challenges we face is that we’re incredibly traditional as a trade, but the marketplace is ever-changing. A lot of the changes are technology based, and so two years ago Starr funded the replacement of our laser welder and other tools. It’s the support and generosity of friends like Starr that make sure our students are working in the true analog of a modern shop,” says Ann. “Starr loves to share her passion for jewelry by bringing examples from her own collection when she visits NBSS, which is very inspirational for our students.”

“One of the really unique challenges we face is that we’re incredibly traditional as a trade, but the marketplace is ever-changing.”

Starr, an NBSS Advisor, believes that the Department is in good shape and good hands.

“Rosemary had the insight to develop the program into what it is today. She was comfortable handing the program to Ann, too, because she knows Ann will take it where it next needs to go. And I will always make time for NBSS. Anything I can do to help is my way of giving back to an industry that means so much to me.”

This is one of nine program stories from the NBSS 2016 Annual Report. Download the full Report here, or see more issues on our Publications page.

Jewelry Making & Repair Program