First, an ending
~by Gary Dawson
I recently returned from the 34th Santa Fe Symposium on Jewelry Manufacturing Technology (SFS) which, sadly was slated to be the last. I had heard about SFS some years prior to my first attendance in the context of something very special and unique in the industry. It was the site of pilgrimage for those in the industry that were not too set in their ways to learn something new. I think for many, it was something to which one aspired and attend with a certain reverence. Attendance was comprised of +-150 of the most innovative and technically minded people in the jewelry industry.
My first attendance came through another industry event. Kraftwerks was a hands-on learning event sponsored by the now closed PM West refinery. Somehow, I had been talked into researching and presenting on the topic of hardening precious metals. Check out a video here to see a small part of that presentation! I don’t remember just how word of my presentation got to Eddie Bell, the organizer of SFS at that time but I remember my first contact with him in the form of a telephone call, which led to my abstract submission, which led to my first SFS presentation.
I eventually presented at SFS 7 times, taking the podium for 45 minutes in a test of pure resolve. I resolved not to fall off the podium, keep speaking, and try to smile while my topic was under the scrutiny of brilliant minds. It was both confidence shaking and exhilarating, but it got easier as the random strangers became family. You can check out the archive of my papers here! I also attended on years when I wasn’t speaking for a total of 11 times.
Each of those gatherings over the years have been special; the intensity of presenting in front of people who are way smarter and more accomplished than I, the reconnecting with old friends and making new ones. And the science! Not to mention the open bar at 5pm when the day’s presentations end and the conversations that followed!
The SFS registration was, except for airfare and hotel, all inclusive; the bar and either catered or restaurant meals were part of the package. The organizers did a good job of providing those amenities.
This, being the last Santa Fe Symposium, the organizer retiring, was even a little more special as emotions built toward adjournment. And then the parting for the last time of a family built during those decades. I know there were a few leaking eyes in the room, including mine.
Out with a bang!
Just prior to the adjournment, awards were presented to a few folks who merited some recognition. I had ridden my motorcycle up to ABQ from my home in Bisbee, AZ and was mentally preparing for my ride back…I think I was looking one last time at the route when I thought I heard my name mentioned somewhere off in the distance. I looked up and the folks at my table were motioning for me to go up front. I was given an award for a paper I presented at the last Symposium. It means so much to me…I had no idea this was coming!
But it’s much better than that!
You’d have to know about the liar’s dice game, often played in the speaker’s suite until the wee hours at SFS to fully get that inside joke. Suffice to say that the rule book has only blank pages! But it really is much better than a sad ending. It is said that for every ending there is a new beginning, and that cliché holds true in this case.
During this past SFS a group gathered in the lobby during one of the lunch breaks. Linus Drogs, a long time participant in SFS wanted to see if there was enough enthusiasm for a continuing event. And yes, there was. The Jewelry Symposium for the Advancement of Manufacturing Technology (The Jewelry Symposium) was born at that moment. Please check out the link to our new website! An ad-hoc board was formed and has been moving forward since then to form a Non-Profit organization that would honor the spirit of the SFS while bringing an event into the new era.
And we’ll see you next May at The Jewelry Symposium!!!