This year’s Battle of the Benches® competition is right around the corner, kicking off March 24th. Among the contestants is Jonathan Smiddy, a seasoned jewelsmith with over twenty-two years of experience under his belt. A bench jeweler at Robson’s Diamond Jewelers in Baytown, Texas, he spends his days repairing precious pieces and helping clients to create beautiful jewelry.
As a graduate of the Texas Institute of Jewelry Technology, Jonathan Smiddy knew he wanted to be a bench jeweler right out of high school after taking interest in Indian handy crafts. “I’m a real classic kind of person. I like Art Noveau. I like Art Deco,” he explains. “So in most of my stuff, I sample a lot of those lines and a lot of French curves.” Jonathan’s passion entails building new and exciting pieces while his specialty lies in creating unique designs that end as exquisite works of art.
After participating in last year’s competition, Jonathan knows the ropes. He has a pretty good idea of what’s in store, having been there and done that. Does this give him a leg up on the competition? We’ll see! We surely expect Jonathon to bring his calm and collected demeanor along with his talent and creativity. The greatest challenge he faces in his day-to-day is meeting impossible deadlines. “Yet, somehow it always happens,” he says. And according to Jonathan, he works best under pressure. This is quite a fitting strength for the competition.
When it came down to scoping out last year’s competition, Jonathan had this to say: “It’s been really interesting, especially with the other jewelers. There’s lots of really good talent on the panel.” His only real concern, however, was aiming to set all of his stones in time.
In day one of the competition, Jonathan created a CAD design and model of a cocktail ring inspired by a customer profile. Day two brought about the Parts & Pieces Challenge where participants were given a box of “stuff” and tasked with creating a unique piece of jewelry. Jonathan created a sleek, modern pendant.
On the third and final day of the event, attendees visited any additional classes they might have missed. They walked the demo floor and even met with our technical folks. The final challenge also took place. This time, the task was to prep, polish, assemble, and set the now casted CAD design from the first day’s competition. Jonathan took the prize in this event with an amazing three stone cocktail ring featuring a blue center and pink accents.
When he’s not busy at the store, he enjoys visiting museums, camping, spending time with family and attending church. His favorite part of being a jeweler so far is having the opportunity to create wedding bands for himself and his wife.
Here’s a shot of Jonathan hard at work in last year’s competition, along with a few select pieces of his work-
“The leftmost image is a 9 carat Tanzanite pendant with .5 carats of side diamonds. It turned out absolutely stunningly and the story behind it is even better!” Jonathan reports. “I also really loved building the piece centered above. It’s a competition piece I designed featuring lapis, diamond, tsavorite garnet, and synthetic padparadscha accents.”