J.Kennedy Design

Enter the Studio

Morning sunlight streams through the many floor-to-ceiling windows to illuminate John Kennedy’s workshop nestled in a renovated turn-of-the-century warehouse. It is here, in this time-honored creative oasis where the artisan is most at home, spending hours on end crafting an exquisite collection of wearable art.

Upon entering the space, your first impression would be of the worn hardwood plank floor that is lightly coated with an ultra-fine dusting of gold. If only that planking could speak. It would surely tell of being walked upon by countless invited guests — gallery owners, retailers, vendors, collectors, jewelry design students, and the media — who were privileged to observe the master jeweler at work.

The layout of the workshop is fairly straightforward. Against each wall are tables and period workbenches, which play host to multiple trays of unnamed metal bits and pieces, as well as an almost infinite assortment of tools used in the process of fine jewelry design — wire nippers, pliers, sheers, files, tweezers, brushes, clippers, and a range of molds, casts, compounds, solvents, and waxes. On one sturdy bench, there is a selection of metal-melding torches, together with a fascinating collection of antique machines from the early 1940s, including a sanding, polishing and buffing wheel, a lapidary for cutting and grinding stones, and another for casting. Looking over to an adjacent table you’ll see a commercial grade ultrasonic jewelry- cleaning machine, where a neat row of newly designed wearable art pieces are in line for a cleansing plunge. At the opposite end of the space, a giant potted Fichus tree attempts to shade a massive art table that doubles as a desk. Much like any other workspace, the desk features a telephone, family photos, computer and wire tray brimming with correspondence. When scanning the studio’s walls, browsers learn quite a bit about John Kennedy, his work history, his career accomplishments and his business and personal travels. On display is an artful collage of memorabilia of sentimental value to the down-to-earth artisan: Dozens of VIP invitations to exclusive special dinners and events, numerous thank-you notes from satisfied clients and appreciative students, scores of post cards from friends and family, several colorful J. Kennedy Design magazine ads, as well as a substantial world map, featuring over 100 pins indicating the countries visited by the master jeweler.

Back at his workbench, you’ll find John Kennedy intently focused on his art. Very often a mix of Jazz or Blues plays as a backdrop to the creative atmosphere. After many hours perched on his antique bench-chair (the same stool he has been sitting on for 35 years), the artisan’s deft hands continue to work in concert to orchestrate the finishing touches of an intricate design. Before him, resting on a red felt cloth, are a medley of multi-hued Cylettes® and several glittering diamonds patiently awaiting a home. One by one, the gems are strategically mounted into the lustrous 14K-gold setting. With the last cylinder of color in place, he sighs with accomplishment, turns, and proudly holds up the freshly minted women’s ring to the natural light for inspection.

“There, see how the light from the Cylettes® emits from the ring? It’s perfect,” says the master jeweler. As with all of J. Kennedy Design’s creations, the newly designed ring — a major work of art — captures the sunrays and explodes with rich, unbridled color. The artisan smiles, takes a sip of water, returns his attention to the task at hand and says, “Next, the matching bracelet.”


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