Evolution to What?
Evolution. Does it mean abandonment of tradition? I think both yes and no, and sometimes that duality leads to clarity and sometimes conflict. World politics cry out for radical change. If you don’t believe it then you must either be one of the 1% or live under a rock. In that change begins with yourself, reevaluating personal priorities seems quite appropriate these days, it probably always did. These ideas formed and churned inside me as I looked at a recent Outside Magazine and found an advertisement for silicone wedding bands. For under US$20.
These are advertised in a magazine that appeals to people who are willing to spend many thousands of dollars on a bicycle. And additional thousands on a watch to see how fast they are riding. And more thousands of dollars for the gear that most people use to get…outside! I know this because I’m a fairly outside guy, a mountaineer and sometime rock climber with a respectable trad rack and an incredibly lightweight backpacking shelter. And yup, I saw the silicone ring ad because I have a subscription to Outside!
As a person who has spent my entire adult life designing and manufacturing custom jewelry in precious metals (often of the wedding variety) I’m just not sure how to think about silicone wedding rings. I have to admit right up front that the adventure guy in me sort of thinks they are cool. I certainly can’t wear my wedding ring, (made in 18K gold) while rock climbing. And I must consider a couple that would rather spend what precious little money they likely have to start building memories on an epic honeymoon rather than an expensive set of rings. There’s something to that for sure.
On the other hand, is silicone the material that I want to represent, the most precious thing I have, my relationship with my wife and children? Every known culture, from ancient past to present, has worn some form of body adornment in the form of jewelry. We know this because anthropologists have excavated their precious metal jewelry from long-buried sites. Thousands of years from now, does our horizon want to be the one that has abandoned precious metals for silicone? What assumptions would a future anthropologist make about our priorities upon finding a $3000 watchnext to a silicone wedding ring?
I’ll leave this with a couple of comments from an article in Road & Track Magazine by Zach Bowman. After some praise for the silicone ring he test drove he says this near the end of the article…
“That’s not to say that the (silicone) band is perfect. After a few days and multiple hand washings, it lost its factory coating. Run your hand through someone’s hair and they’ll wince as the silicone grabs at every strand. It gets stuck on clothing, and I nearly lost the thing after it fell off while I pulled my phone from my pocket. It also looks like the height of eighth grade fashion.
I’m back to my gold band, but not because it’s a better choice than the (silicone ring). My ring was there the day I swore to love my wife forever. It’s been there every day since, through every argument, every curse, and every grin. It’s marred with the scratches and dings of the years we’ve spent together…”
With apologies to Charles Dickens, I sum up my experience at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES2016) in Las Vegas with the impression that it fully represents the reality of the quote from the opening of “A Tale of Two Cities”. This occurs both on a personal and a broader level.
On a personal level, I deplore Las Vegas, and all of the exploitation that it represents, all of the time. And yet I find myself there on business periodically experiencing great adventure and opportunity. This year’s CES was really a wonderful experience. Within the aisles of CES one can see all the humor, fun and excitement as well as the hope and expectations of the contemporary human experience.
From a broader perspective, it is difficult to ignore the juxtaposition of all of this wonderful technology with the reality that the distraction it provides seems to be leading us as a culture further away from the experiences that, until now, provided most of the meaning in our lives. It is now cliché to see a couple or a family sitting together at a meal with all members of the group only participating in the reality of their “smart” device. How smart is that, really? And where will this eventually lead?
And while my brief first ride on a Segway Mini was really cool, would it tend to add to my flab should I eventually own one? My (and my dog’s) exercise typically consists of a 4-6 mile daily walk. If I had one of these things, would I neglect myself as I run my dog ragged on a brief ride?
The potential for an improved human existence is greatly evident at a show like CES, and it remains an inspiration to me to be able to see both improved prior technologies and new ones alike. As a distributor of technology (see my website for that here) I am particularly interested in any new tech that might be helpful or interesting to the jewelry industry. As a designer, I’m keenly interested in anything that can aid my design process, communication with clients, or the safety of my operation.
Here are just a very few of the items that I thought noteworthy, helpful and relatively inexpensive . These seem mostly non-threatening (depending of course, on how they are used!) and actually useful to a lot of people.
It was the free beer that attracted me into the EZVIZ booth, a more frequently seen trade-show promotional technique. But this time the beer led to the discovery of a product that I liked! Jen Lynch was kind enough to give me an overview of the EZVIZ Mini, available on various commercial sites, including Amazon. This wireless 720P camera (with audio) has a QR code on the back that once scanned leads you to the EZVIZ app and pairs your phone with the camera, allowing you to see what the camera sees from your smartphone anywhere in the world with a wireless connection. Watch for an upgrade to HD and two-way audio soon!
Fidel Molina did a great job demonstrating the Ztylus Revolver Kit, an iPhone case with an attachment that contains 5 very useful camera lens enhancements including a polarizing and macro lens. This project, which began as many great new products do, began on Kickstarter and seems to effectively bring a broader level of professional uses to the already good iPhone camera.
Finally, my Segway Mini Pro selfie! Thanks to my press-pass to CES, I was allowed to try the MiniPro in the limited space of the Segway Distribution of North America booth. Very short learning curve, the thing practically drives itself, and is barrels of fun. With an up to 18 mile range, I can see how this could be useful in many applications where one’s work required a lot of walking for its speed, maneuverability and ease of use.
Set Your Brain
I had to be up very early recently to make it to a bridal show in which I was displaying my jewelry designs. As I sat with my cup of coffee, enjoying the quiet of the early morning, I heard my step-son’s alarm go off. It ceased its dreadful whine for a bit and then went off again…and this cycle repeated several times until finally, his Mom went in and woke him up. I got to thinking about explaining my view on this annoying experience to him…along with the alarm, you need to set your brain!
In general I don’t use an alarm but if it’s needed, it makes much more sense (to me) to set your alarm when you actually need to get up and then get up when it goes off. When I do this I can sleep peacefully right up until the time that I need to get going; I get those last precious moments of sleep undisturbed.
It seems like the intermittent alarm system does a lot to ruin that last half-hour of sleep and (for me) that would be a good way to wake up cranky! Maybe the kid’s alarm system explains part of the teen angst that we are beginning to see!
How can a person just bounce out of bed at the first buzz of the alarm though? Well, I think it takes setting your brain first. In this way, actually setting the alarm is of secondary importance, it becomes a simple reminder that you want to get up at a certain time. I guess this takes actually wanting to get up and out of bed but that’s inherent in the act of setting an alarm, right?
This whole concept of setting your brain can apply in a broader sense. A tweet from my friend Andrea Hill (@supportwerks) recently came through my feed… ”Where you focus dictates your perspective. Exclusive focus on problems = feeling surrounded by problems. Choose your perspective wisely!” Of course, one can’t simply ignore problems, her use of the word “exclusive” insures that’s not what she meant. The point here is that you can set your brain to be more effective, timely and productive in just about everything you do.
And to bring it home, how you think about your relationship may help set your perspective on the jewelry you choose to symbolize that relationship. Is price your only priority? There are many options now for the price conscious jewelry shopper, from $15 silicone wedding bands to “mass customized” offerings in precious metals. If your relationship with your significant other is one of the most precious things you have, you may have a perspective beyond price and “mass” anything. And if you think that your relationship is unique in some way, you may want to consider custom jewelry!
I bet I could write more about this and tie it even more directly into you contacting me for really fine custom jewelry! But instead, I’m going to subliminally plant that idea right now…
Let Gary Dawson Jewelry Design work with you to create stunning, unique jewelry! Why be ordinary?
Stop Saying Foodie
In the Jan-Feb issue of Saveur magazine, Editor Adam Sachs makes a plea to which I can relate…”Stop Saying Foodie.” While his divergent rant about the label being both self-infantilizing and elitist may seem at odds with itself in some manner it brought to mind an epiphany I had during this last year.
Alysia and I were in Cuenca, Ecuador, in an indigenous marketplace (Mercado 9 de Octubre) eating a late lunch comprised of a huge plate of roast pork with thinly sliced onions and hominy when the term, frequently used in our home environs of the Pacific Northwest of the USA, “farm to table” popped into my head. My first thought, “My now, this is really farm to table!” was immediately followed by “What a ridiculous concept in this time and place.” The truth is that these people, in this culture, have been sourcing their food locally and eating this way for centuries, maybe millennia.
I bet Ecuadorian Dollars to doughnuts that if one could adequately explain the concept of farm-to-table to the natives of this region the comment would be the cultural equivalent to, “Duh…this is how it’s done, stupid!”
Like the chef Hugh Acheson that Mr. Sachs mentions, I resolve to not be so OCD about my omelets in the future. I think I had already reached that point when I caught myself thinking a few days back, “sometimes I like a simple egg sandwich with mayo”. No need to try to find and apply the 4 kinds of mustard that I have in the fridge, or three kinds of cheese that could go on the sandwich to make it “something special”. The sandwich is already special because I’m hungry, right? And I resolve to think about my food as though it should be farm to table, not that that’s something special…
And so how does this relate to Gary Dawson Jewelry Design and custom jewelry? I see a connection to one of my last blog posts, “Sell Out, or Challenge the Concept”, posted on December 8th, 2015. In that post I make a point that although some folks may think of me as a “sellout” for making simple bands, I think I’m ahead of the game because I’m doing what I love to do, make jewelry. Or in the case of being in the kitchen, preparing my own food!
I love to cook, to which any frequent reader of my blog will attest! So Bravo Mr. Sachs for bringing a more down-to-earth perspective to another of the things that make me, well, me! I feel like you got my back on this one so I’m returning the favor. Not before I share one last foodie pic though!