Graduate gemologist. Laser welder. Casting pro. All-around jewelry mastermind. And he can cook?
Phil Scott got started in the jewelry industry at the ripe old age of 13. He joined Rio Grande as a gemstone buyer. Today he answers all of your most pressing jewelry queries as a member of our Jewelry Tech Team. Read on for more about what's on his own bench, designing his daughter's engagement ring, and barbecue sauce.
How did you get started in the jewelry industry?
Phil Scott: I walked into a Native American jewelry workshop one day and asked for a job. He asked me what kind of jewelry I made. I told him I didn't; I wanted him to teach me how to make it. After a long discussion he gave me some books to read on the subject and told me to bring them back when I was done. In a few days I was back and ready to start. He took me under his wing and I started my apprentice work. I was 13 years old.
At the age of 15, I received my diamond certificate from the Gemological Institute of America. I worked in several different shops doing repairs, custom design, diamond setting, and everything in between. I also ran my own jewelry trade shop doing repairs and custom work for over 28 stores at a time.
What's your favorite thing about working at Rio Grande?
PS: I get to talk shop with people about things that I am passionate about, making jewelry. I love talking about jewelry and everything that goes into it. And I get to do this with people that have the same passions that I do. It's like talking to old friends. If someone new to the industry calls, I get to help them and guide them the same way others have helped me over the years.
What is currently on your bench? Any new projects you're excited about? Any new products, tools or equipment you can't get enough of?
PS: I have several projects going at once, so it's hard to pick. Right now I have a big project I have just started—I get the honor of designing my daughter's engagement ring.
I also have a hunk of burning rough, just dying to be faceted into something beautiful.
I also have an engraving project I am about to start on. I am really excited about it because I just did an upgrade to my engraving setup. I had an old GraverMax system that I have updated with two new Airtact handpieces. All I can say is WOW! My old handpieces were nice to use but these new ones are absolutely fantastic and a real joy to use.
What's one thing that no one on your team knows about you?
PS: I love to cook. I do all the holiday meals and love to make fresh breads and pastries. One of my favorites pastries was handed down (5th generation) from an aunt who was the cook for a convent in Austria. It was her go-to recipe for dessert when important guests were visiting. I also make a barbecue sauce that will knock your socks off.
What's your favorite thing about making jewelry?
PS: Getting so engrossed in a project that you lose all track of time. Taking a piece of metal and some stones and working out a design in your head or on paper, and then using your hands to create something. It's both relaxing and exciting. Manipulating all of those items into a piece of jewelry that someone will treasure forever is an honor.
I just love the creative process and watching it all come together. It's really great to think that someone may wear that piece of jewelry for the rest of their life. It could even be handed down from generation to generation.
Do you have a favorite piece that you've made?
PS: I have made some really expensive, over-the-top pieces over the years. Several have even gone to celebrities. The one that brings back the best memories isn't one of those. It was made for a lady whose mother had just passed away. We used her mother's stones and metal and created a pavé ring that was fantastic. Though it wasn't super expensive, I still remember her tears and how much the ring meant to her. That ring was priceless. That project was over 25 years ago, and it still touches my heart thinking about how emotional she was when she slipped it on her finger.