Forging Past Fifty
“In our shop there is a certain lack of structure, that often leads to spontaneity, which can be good. We have all worked together long enough, and well enough, that we have learned what our respective strengths are. This staff I have makes my life so easy.” That team includes Jan McBride who has been at the bench, next to Ross, fabricating his signature elements for his designs since 1987. “Ross has taught me so much over the years,” McBride says. “I value his integrity to really listen to his customers, and I love the reaction of the customers when their work is complete.” Sarah Upton-Bergquist finishes the pieces, which means that Ross creates a design and hands it off to her in a fairly rough form. “I give Sarah something that is nice and she just makes it glow,” says Ross, beaming. She sands, polishes and refines the piece until it truly achieves fine jewelry status.
Bergquist acknowledges the entire process and day-to-day effort that contributes to the body of work the shop creates under Coppelman’s guidance. “In contrast with how fast Ross physically works with metal is the significant time he takes deliberating,” Bergquist says, “feeling out the way metal shapes and gemstones fit together on his bench; lingering in his garden finding the perfect rock for his signature rock-hammered finish. He trusts his process, and we trust it too.”
Donna Rubino, a patient and intuitive sales associate has been adroitly matching clients and jewelry for 20 years. “She is terrific with customers,” Ross explains. “She’ll spend two hours with a customer who doesn’t know what they want, making suggestions and almost always finding something they really like.” Beth Wolin, the showroom manager, is the new kid—part of the team for a mere five years. Ross says that despite the unfamiliar transition from her previous life’s work, Beth has seamlessly become part of the team, “She is so committed to her job, and to doing her job well.”
There is one member of the team who has been along since the beginning—Susan Coppelman. Listening to Ross as he humbly reveals his internal struggles that are offset by the simple beauty he creates, it becomes clear very quickly that this entire body of work would never have been possible without the tireless support and halcyon faith Susan added to the operation. Their life, and by proxy their business, became a recipe of necessity, topped with a lot of luck and a dash of ingenuity. Susan, who was forging ahead with a career in teaching, remembers when she made a life change, “Seeing the potential—and fun—of the unexpectedly growing business, we decided to work together, making and selling jewelry.” Susan joined Ross at the bench and in the showroom for seven years. Now, 40 years later, after pursuing other ventures she has returned and oversees the business and marketing arm of the operation.
As it is for most in life, the path has not been one that is straight, wide and un-encumbered, but rather at every turn the folly of fate thankfully has been generous to the Coppelmans. Ross reflects on the point when his jewelry designs shifted—the core of his successfully established brand. “Our showroom was where it is now in East Dennis,” he recalls. “It was beautiful; it felt like we had achieved what we had worked for. But, I was still anxious to get home everyday so I could look out at the marsh view from our new home. I would stare at the water, the sunsets, the wildlife. And one day, one of these curves I’ve been making for years, rolled in on itself like a wave. I looked at it and I thought, ‘What is this? I don’t do that.’ But, I had enough sense to get out of the way and see what happens. Since that day, everything I do now is inspired by nature. It is a complete turn around from something very stylized to something completely natural. Timing is everything, if we hadn’t moved I don’t know if it would have happened.”
Adam Coppelman sums things up pretty succinctly, “There’s a popular concept today called work/life integration, where your job is a seamless and organic extension of your life. The longer I’ve lived, the more unique and almost miraculous the story of my dad’s business seems. It’s his evergreen ability to imagine seemingly ancient designs and then summon them to life with precious metals and rare gems; it’s the warm friendly community of the shop; it’s the customers who come back year after year, decade after decade. Like his jewelry itself, this achievement is both inspiring and nearly impossible to replicate.”
For more of Ross’s jewelry, make sure to visit his website rosscoppelman.com
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