Steven Kretchmer - The Mad Scientist of Jewelry
Steven Kretchmer - Starting out
Steven Kretchmer was one of the most dynamic jewelry innovators that the jewelry world has seen in a long time. Specializing in new and unique ways to use metal he lead the way by creating new alloys and thinking not outside of the box, but as if there were no box at all.
Like many great innovators Steven took the long road to finding the role he was meant to play. As a child he was more interested in taking toys apart than playing with them and was not exactly the perfect student. Doing things differently than everyone around you is rarely a great way to stay out of trouble in a structured environment. Even in college, where he earned a master of fine arts degree in the metals program, he preferred to be left alone to explore his own ideas.
However, his real training came from working in numerous prominent jewelry establishments in Milan, Italy. It was here that he learned many of his traditional goldsmithing techniques and knowledge of metal alloys, including his work with 18k Makume-gane (an ancient Japanese method of layering different colored metals making them appear wood-grained). Kretchmer has also studied new gold techniques and colors, blue gold anyone?, for jewelry design tycoon Harry Winston.
Steven Kretchmer - Design and Innovation
Kretchmer revolutionized the jewelry industry with his tension-set and Polarium platinum jewelry. Working alongside his wife, Alma, in an old schoolhouse turned studio in New York's tranquil Hudson Valley he earned numerous patents for his inventions in metal and alloy, including his tension setting and his new product line, Polarium.
Steven Kretchmer's invention, the "Tension Set", is the ring that put him on the world map as more than a jeweler with a metallurgical bent. Actually spring compression setting, tension set makes for a more dramatic name. Kretchmer's tension set is the product of many years of countless experiments and unique magical powers and is made using special alloys and a patented heat treatment process, which allows the metal to be strong yet elastic. This setting allows the maximum amount of light to reach the stone for excellent fire and brilliance.
This setting allows the maximum amount of light to reach the stone for excellent fire and brilliance. Stones held in this setting are under 12,000 pounds per square inch of pressure. Kretchmer currently produces the strongest tension set rings which wield 50,000 pounds per square inch of pressure and only stones that are 9-10 on the Mohs hardness scale can withstand this amount of pressure. The gemstones must undergo rigorous testing to ensure they are capable of handling the extreme pressure these rings produce. Steven Kretchmer's patented tension setting provides more strength and power than any other form on setting. For this reason, Steven Kretchmer offers a lifetime guarantee for all his tension set designs.
We like Steven Kretchmer's work so much that we carry his line of tension set rings. You can see several of them in our online store. Or even better, if you are close to our store in Elkhart, come in and try one or two on.
Kretchmer's last great invention was Polarium, a hypoallergenic platinum alloy that has unique magnetic powers. The material used to make his Polarium line is made up of 777/1000 platinum and the alloy is polarized to make it highly magnetic. These magnetic features of the alloy allow it to attract or repel metal. Kretchmer's Polarium design has created scratch resistant rings and a permanent magnetic attraction that will never weaken over time.
One-piece Polarium rings can be polarized using a method called single-field. Single-field Polarium has a wide variety of attraction to most metal objects. Multi-piece Polarium rings can be magnetized using single or multi-field. Multi-field Polarium keeps the magnetizing powers within the ring itself. It has no attraction to other metals and the magnetizing forces have no affects on credit cards or watches. But the most dynamic use of Polarium is in his astonishing floating earrings. By placing discs of Polarium on a vertical shaft, the magnetic forces make each disc levitate freely in it's own space.
Steven Kretchmer - Legacy
Unfortunately Steven Kretchmer is no longer with us. On July 8, 2006, Steven was killed when his motorcycle was struck by a car. In his short career at the forefront of modern metallurgy he received numerous awards for his many jewelry innovations. Among two of his top honors are the Jewelers of America's Designer of the Year Award and JCK's Innovator of the Year.
His work does go on. Through the company he founded with his wife, and now run by his daughter, Claudia, and through the staff that he helped train, his work continues from the schoolhouse turned into a hub for modern metullurgy and jewelry design. Claudia continues her mother and father's dream with a style of her own that was recognized by winning the Couture Deasign Award's in 2007.