John Cogswell: Three Rings in Three Days

by Metalwerx on February 4, 2015

John Cogswell is enjoying the onslaught that never happened. The historic Juno Blizzard bypassed New York and instead has buried New England in a manageable dump of blessedly light and fluffy snow.

He is author of the highly praised book, “Creative Stonesetting” (Brynmorgen Press), as well as an esteemed educator, illustrator, jeweler, and silversmith. He is known for his one-of-a-kind jewelry designs and hollow ware. His work has appeared in countless exhibitions and books, and is included in numerous private and public collections, not the least of which is London’s Victoria and Albert Museum. John returns to Metalwerx to teach “Three Rings in Three Days,” April 10-12.


Amethyst ring

A selection of samples by John Cogswell.*

The workshop explores the fabrication of a trio of ring styles, a forged shank and bezel-set cabochon stone ring, a hollow constructed ring, and a tension-set ring with a faceted stone. It is aimed at students with competent fabrication and soldering skills.


Two Rings

Rings by John Cogswell.

The finger ring is a powerful piece of jewelry. So much can be inferred from even the simplest band. A ring can tell the world whether you’re the Pope or a promised virgin, a Super Bowl winner or high school grad, married, or filthy rich. Every culture in history is known to adorn their hands, except the Assyrians, Celts, and the Eskimo. George Frederick Kunz, a former vice President of Tiffany & Co., wrote in 1917 that Admiral Peary discovered the Eskimo had no interest in the lot of rings he’d brought to the Arctic to use as barter.


Creative Stonesetting

John’s book is a must for a jeweler’s library.

“Creative Stonesetting,” is considered essential for the jeweler’s library. It is loaded with beautiful illustrations and has clearly written information for constructing dozens of elegant and innovative designs. The book has inspired jewelers the world over.



Classroom white board diagrams by John Cogswell.

This workshop will take you beyond bezels and prongs for rings. John emphasizes process over end production, focusing on techniques to build skills for precise fabrication and perfect sizing. “Everyone wants to go home with a finished thing. That’s wonderful, but the most important thing is the getting there,” he said.



John Cogswell leading a class.

He recently retired from State University of New York but says, “Retirement is a myth.” For the last thirty years, John led about a dozen workshops a year across the country, all while teaching at prestigious institutions such as the Parsons School of Design, the Pratt Institute, Hofstra University, and SUNY.

A health scare convinced him to scale back his schedule. He now happily spends more time at home with his wife of 35 years, Barbara Chapman–“She let me keep my name when we married”–and the adopted family of neighborhood feral cats that they’ve rescued, neutered, and released.

“We have ten cats. I love them all, I love them all differently. It’s the same thing with rings,” he says. There is no one style that he prefers among others.

A few days after this conversation, Storm Linus plunged temperatures into brutal cold and blanketed the neighborhood with sixteen inches of snow. Here’s wishing the Cogswell household an easy dig-out, plenty of warmth, and healthy cats.

Grumpy Cat re: snow

This is not one of John’s cats!

There are still seats available for “Three Rings in Three Days.” To learn more about this workshop, click here or contact Metalwerx at 781-891-3854.

–by Yleana Martinez

*photo thanks to Jewelry Artists Network.

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