The Craft of Artisan Jewelry
Artisan crafts are made by skilled manual workers. An artisan is also known as a craftsman, who uses tools, and very rarely, machinery, in a special way to produce a handmade article.
During the Middle Ages, in Europe, craftsman organized into guilds, which were associations of master artisans. These guilds were granted charters by local authorities. To become an artisan in a guild, a person worked as an unpaid apprentice under a master artisan. If the apprentice completed the training, he became a paid journeyman, but to become a master artisan, he had to produce a masterpiece that met the standards of the guild.
Artisans have been using their hands and imaginations for many centuries. Some artisan jewelry dates back as far as 7000 BC, when gold and copper began to be used for adornment.
Artisans were the dominant producers of goods before the industrial revolution, and to this day, the most beautiful pottery, furniture, jewelry, tapestries and glass ware is made by artisans. Consider the master artisan glass blowers in Venice and the artisan tapestry weavers in France. In some remote villages in Italy and Peru, the whole village depends on the income from the work of their artisans.
Hand made artisan jewelry is prized, especially if it represents a particular culture. Italian cameos are made by artisans, and Native American artisans produce some very beautiful turquoise pieces. Other artisan crafts include cameos, rugs, woven baskets and wood carvings, such as those made by African tribal artisans.