Forging Past Fifty
For a half century, Ross Coppelman
has been crafting jewelry for the ages
What does a life’s passion look like? For those who are fortunate enough to create, it can manifest itself in a variety of forms, and like any valuable journey, the evolution of process, and growth, can be recognized in the outcome. For goldsmith Ross Coppelman (a man who paradoxically sees chapters of his life and work as being fitful and tumultuous, in comparison with those who would easily anoint him as a master of his craft), the journey to the present day was never one he expected. Despite, or perhaps because of, his own self-deprecation, Coppelman is able to celebrate 50 years of conceiving, crafting and creating fine jewelry. And like so many who are self-critical, Coppelman is surrounded and supported by family, friends and protégés who clearly see the hard work and unique focus that has resulted in a body of work that is considered truly exceptional.
Sir Erik Christopher Zeeman, an acclaimed British mathematician said, “Technical skill is mastery of complexity, while creativity is master of simplicity.” Coppelman’s work appears to have manifested at an intersection of both those thoughts. The early days started with a love affair that also celebrates a half century this year: the union of Susan and Ross Coppelman. Susan recalls an occasion early in their relationship, “While I was in college, Ross came to visit me and sat in on my art class. We were making collages, and we had been working on projects for six weeks. The instructor gave Ross (who had never taken an art class and didn’t consider himself creative) materials and asked him to participate along with the rest of us. At the end of the class, the instructor held up Ross’ collage and said, ‘Look, this guy hasn’t been here and already gets it!’ It was a surprising hint of his visual creativity.”
After college, Ross and Susan moved to the Cape and Ross, who studied English at Harvard, said his brain was tired and for the meantime, he wanted to work with his hands. That pursuit led him to a local silversmith Bernie Kelly, where he was paid $1.50 an hour, and told to craft simple rings from silver wire for the upcoming holiday season, after which, Coppelman was promptly laid off. “It definitely wasn’t a career path, and I still had a plan to go to grad school to study psychology, but I enjoyed the work I had been doing. So, I bought some tools and materials and just kept making simple designs that people were interested in during the seventies,” Coppelman recalls.
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