For many people, the jewelry they own is worth more a simple price tag would reflect.
Wedding rings, inherited gemstones, graduation charms, a custom-made Valentine’s Day pendant or a contemporary pair of earrings given to commemorate an anniversary — they all evoke memories attached to the occasion.
“When people buy something that speaks to them and they pass it down to the next generation, there is a certain emotion in that,” said Reuben Wilde, who works at his father’s jewelry store, Wolf Wilde Goldsmith.
Wolf Wilde Goldsmith at 5 Clinton Plaza, is a family-run business that sells custom-made, contemporary and traditional jewelry. The family of artisans specializes in creating heirloom jewelry in gold and silver; some with precious stones, either bought at the store or provided by customers.
“We have some customers who bring in jewelry they have inherited, and they want a more contemporary design,” Wilde said. “There is a ruby ring I did for a customer. She had a loose ruby and some green sapphires — she wanted a ring for her right ring finger. It was a tension set. Basically the stone is being held in by the force of the sides. That was a challenge to make from scratch.”
Wilde, a graduate gemologist, said he worked on the design with the customer until they were both satisfied it was what she wanted. Then he created the unique piece. He has been working with jewelry most of his life.
“I remember the first ring I sized,” Wilde said. “I had to figure out how much gold to add. It is something you need to learn by experience. And there are the delicate soldering jobs. You have to be careful not to apply too much heat to fix a gold chain.”
Reuben’s father, Wolf Wilde, was born in Germany and grew up to apprentice for a goldsmith. He emigrated to the United States when he was 20 years old, and worked for Tiffany and Cartier, making fine jewelry. He moved his family to Oneonta in 1971 and worked on jewelry repairs in a shop in his basement. He opened the jewelry store, Wolf Wilde Goldsmith, in 1987.
“I remember when I was young, I would go down into his shop in the basement,” said Karen Miritello, Wolf Wilde’s daughter. “He said if I was down here, I need to learn to do something. So he taught me to string pearls. I would put each one on the string and tie the knots. It kept me busy, but it also taught me a skill.”
Miritello now makes original silver and gold jewelry using precious metal clay to create original designs.
Wolf Wilde Goldsmith employs five members of the Wilde family, all of whom are specialists in various elements of the business.
Although the economy has been difficult and Wolf Wilde Goldsmith has felt the pinch, it has created a niche in the jewelry market.
“In the 80s and 90s, and even in the early 2000s, people had more money to spend,” Reuben Wilde said. “Now people are more cautious. But we have wonderful customers. We have items that are affordable, and we do some watch repair – batteries and link adjustments. Most of the time, when a customer comes in, they know what they can spend and they have an idea what they want. We usually can give them what they want.”