As a ten year old, I would go to my dad’s shop after school to work and play, making simple sterling silver jewelry including sand cast signet rings for some of my school friends.  I did this off and on for less than a year.  As a kid I found the outdoors much more exciting.  That ended my jewelry making until I needed a gift!

My interest in pursuing a jewelry career happened while serving in the U.S. Army.  I was stationed in the Panama Canal Zone as a supply sergeant.  With lots of time to think about my future and knowing my dad was willing to give me an apprenticeship, I knew jewelry design and making jewelry would be in my future.

I began my apprenticeship with my dad, who had a special order and repair shop, who was my teacher.  The shop was located at 830 Market Street in San Francisco, California.  The building was completed following the ’06 quake and housed many jewelry trades: diamond setters, engravers, manufacturers and repair shops.  I have many wonderful memories from my years of learning there.

My first six months were difficult.  I had doubts about my ability and choice of profession.  My dad kept reassuring me I was doing fine, but I had doubts.  Then one day it all came together.  Everything became much easier and for the first time I was comfortable with all phases of my work.  I was now looking forward to my daily projects, working both designing and manufacturing, with more confidence and skill.

One of my first projects was a ladies gold and pearl ring.  It had a crossover shank, high polished with a large white cultured pearl in the center.  This ring gave me a great feeling of accomplishment and I knew there would be far better things to come.

These better things did not come overnight.  I took it upon myself to spend many nights and any spare time I had working in both wax carvings and metal fabrication, with both good and bad results.

As I progressed, I sometimes strayed beyond my ability with predictable results.  I always strived for something attractive but unusual.  I went to many street fairs and jewelry exhibits to see what other designers were creating, influencing my early work, attracted to those who stepped outside the conventional rules.  I remember the outrageous three inch high ring tops with wonderful colored gemstones of all shapes and sizes, igniting my passion for color and exciting design.

Today I am very secure in knowing my work leads others, is cutting edge, beautiful, wearable and recognizable.  I labor long hours to keep my ideas fresh and evolving.

Gordon Aatlo
September 2006

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