Bench Warmer: Talking to A.J. Boore of Bremer Jewelry

A lifelong attraction to goldsmithing has kept A.J. Boore at Bremer Jewelry for nearly two decades

At Bremer Jewelry, a family-owned business with stores in Peoria and Bloomington, Ill., on-staff goldsmith A.J. Boore arrived at the store as an apprentice nearly 20 years ago and has been at the bench ever since.

JCK: What made you want to be a goldsmith?

A.J. Boore: I had taken a couple of classes at our local community college, and it was just something I thought I could do. I seemed to have a knack for it.… I had done my own mechanic work and things like that, and my high school job was working at a local antique mall. I always found myself drawn to the jewelry in the cases, trying to figure out how they made it.

JCK: What’s your most indispensable tool?

AJB: From the standpoint of what I do, the Meiji microscope. It allows for much better vision of what I’m doing, but it’s also good from a posture standpoint. I’m six and a half feet tall, so it has been a real lifesaver not having to sit in that bent-over position.

The level of detail I can get is also much greater. I do most of the wax carving at the store, and it’s all done by hand. The amount of detail I can include in the wax with the microscope is so much greater versus working through a single 10-power loupe through my glasses one eye at a time. It’s a broader field of vision and it’s a much higher magnification.

JCK: What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about fixing jewelry?

AJB: A lot of people don’t understand the amount of time that can be invested in this work. Some simple repairs might take only half an hour or 45 minutes, but when you’re talking about rebuilding Grandma’s worn-out ring, it can take a couple or a few days just working on that single piece.

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