Interview with Tom Schwartz of Percent Jewelry
How did you get started ?
My brother was a painter, a very fine artist, and early on he supported his studio work by fabricating jewelry out of cloth, mostly velvet. I was at his side and assisted with the business end of it. That led to a career as the general manager of a silver jewelry design and wholesale company. And now, with Percent Jewelry, which I started about fifteen years ago, I preside over both form and function, so to speak, in every respect.
Where do you find your inspiration? and how has this changed over time since you began to design?
I find it in all the likely places: in the wonders, great and small, of the natural world and in the genius of mankind. But it may be more precise to say that inspiration finds me, tracks me down wherever I am. And I think that over time I've become increasingly receptive to inspiration of all kinds and more sensitive to how it influences my jewelry and my other creative endeavors.
Where did you learn your craft?
I am all thumbs and leave the hand work in silver and in stone to specialists. They are brilliant musicians, you could say, and my role is to provide them with a score. What I have cultivated, probably from the day I was born, is my sensibility relative to color, light, proportion, harmony, balance, and scale.
What is your hope for the future ?
The present is suddenly foreign to us. And how do we orient ourselves to a future uniquely at odds with the past? Well, I think hope offers a hollow consolation; it won’t carry us very far, or anywhere at all. As for actual consequences, it’s within our power to act and to imbue each moment with the meaning and purpose we want that moment to have. We already know this is true and have only to take it to heart.
What is your main source of calm/distraction during these stressful times ?
It is certainly a dark period, but the human condition has not changed. This steadies us. We make our progress, and life, as always, is its own reward — comic, tragic, sweet, bitter, simple, complex, rousing, provocative, full of contradictions, and infinitely beautiful.