In July, Alan Revere, founder of the San Francisco–based Revere Academy of Jewelry Arts, announced that he is retiring and selling his famed jewelry-making school. Here, he talks to JCK about how teaching jewelry-making has changed over the years, why he’s not interested in CAD/CAM, and why creating jewelry is different from creating just about anything else.
Why did you decide to retire now?
Two reasons. I just turned 70. I had a retrospective of my work about three months ago. And the [school’s] lease is coming up for renewal, so I wanted to make it available to someone who wants the business.
Has modern technology changed how you teach?
I like to say that anyone can sit at a computer and press a few buttons, but the jewelry comes out not quite lifelike. There is a vitality that is missing when people design through the CAD/CAM process. I have done a little bit of it; it doesn’t interest me at all.
People who want to make jewelry through CAD really should be learning jewelry by hand first. And then, if they want to, they can go with CAD. But you really need to know how it works, what the parameters are.
Why do you think people still want to make jewelry?
Jewelry is something real. It’s not just a slash on a keyboard. It is something that will last thousands of years. You don’t need a big factory. You don’t need a lot of technology. You don’t need a lot of workers. But you can sit down at a bench and create [something] precious, something that will outlive you.
It’s not like a drawing. People throw away paper. Clothing falls apart. Furniture will burn. Glass will break. A piece of jewelry endures. The materials are resistant to the environment. That’s why they’re called noble metals.
Top: Alan Revere at his bench; inset: with student Devon Fuller
(Revere: David Magnusson; Revere and Fuller: Christine Dhein)