Seven Fingers Jewelers, or Tom Herman, is whom I consider to be one of the finest, if not THE finest, working studio jeweler in America today.
Tom is an artist who does it all from cutting stones, smelting/alloying gold, engraving/chasing metal to setting stones, to wood working and not to mention conjuring the sublime forms and designs of his beautiful work.
Heavily influenced by Art Nouveau and Fabergé, Tom’s favorite materials are black opals, pearls, dendritic agates, rutilated quartz and chalcedony – some of which he cuts and on which he does the lapidary work.
Many years ago, as a recent G.I.A. grad, I had the pleasure of meeting him and seeing his work in person at a small art show he was doing at the Neue Galerie in New York.
I don’t think I had ever met a living person who possessed such craftsmanship and variety of skills as he graciously demonstrated an intricately carved wood and gold box with tiny diamonds set in scroll and acanthus engraving with a special secret button that opens the box.
In addition to enormous skill, Tom is a seriously nice guy too. I had no idea what the name Seven Fingers meant until his demonstration of the box – imagine my surprise when I realized this man had only seven fingers!
Just viewing that beautiful box and learning about its secret mechanism was enough to put me in awe but realizing the man did it all with only seven fingers having lost three in a Minnesota farming accident as a child rendered me speechless.
Seeing Tom’s work left an indelible impression on me at that time and opened my eyes to old world skills and craftsmanship that are disappearing at a rapid pace in today’s mass-produced-assembled-parts world.
Now that I think about it, perhaps seeing Tom’s work was the reason I started to really learn and study antique jewelry and eventually landed a job at one of the world’s top antique dealers in New York. Thank you, Tom!
Tom teaches engraving, chasing, and setting classes at various top jewelry schools around the country – check out his teaching schedule here.
(all images via Tom Herman Seven Fingers)