Jewelry maker got into hobby at age of 60


The man has a way with all kinds of machinery, thanks to those early days in Rupert, Idaho. That's where he lived after his family moved from his birthplace in Kemmerer, Wyo ., and developed his passion for tinkering with cars, auto parts, batteries and what not.

He even bought a 1930 Model A Ford for $75 when he was only 17. It was a marvelous piece of machinery, and he still carries a photo of the relic. Oh, if only he had held on to it, he says, sighing.

In a nutshell, Darel Georges always made it a point to know the intricacies of machines, how they function and, most important, what purposes they serve. He brought his infatuation to Las Vegas in 1958.

But Georges didn't know anything about making jewelry until some 23 years ago, when, at the age of 60, he became fascinated by the machinery used to create gold and silver rings, bracelets, earrings, necklaces and other fine pieces.

That was when he and a friend attended adult school at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, campus, first to take guitar lessons ---- which they soon dismissed ---- then to take a class in jewelry making.

"Well, the jewelry class made a tremendous impression with me," Georges said. And he became familiarized with the machinery immediately. So much so that he took the same course at UNLV three times.

"What happened is that I began making jewelry for all my relatives and friends, so I had to take the course three times just so I could continue using the machines at UNLV," Georges explained.

A year later, he accompanied a friend to Sun City Summerlin, to see what it had to offer retirees. And that opened a whole new spectrum for Georges in the use of specialty machinery.

So what does his enthusiasm for machinery have to do with creating jewelry in Sun City, of all places?

"That first time I came to Sun City, back in 1990, they had just finished building the Mountain Shadows C ommunity C enter," Georges said. "It had a number of workshops, including something called the Silver Room. The room included all kinds of brand-new machines and equipment just for making jewelry.

"The only problem was that the machinery wasn't being used," he said. "That's because nobody knew what to do with it."

When he made it known that he knew how to operate all the machinery, which included some highly sophisticated pieces of equipment, word got back to the hierarchy at the Del Webb Corp., developer of the Sun City Summerlin retirement community.

"A few days later, I got a call from the Sun City recreation director asking me if I would be willing to start up a jewelry class," Georges said. "They insisted on paying me for doing the class because I didn't live in Sun City at the time.

"I told her I would help for a couple of months. That couple of months has turned into more than 21 years," he said.

At first, the Del Webb Corp. paid him for teaching jewelry making. But in 1992, after Georges and his wife, Lynn, moved into Sun City, he stayed on as a volunteer resident jewelry instructor.

"Jewelry is a passion for me," he said. "I love teaching the classes."

Since taking the course at UNLV, Georges has taught himself to use almost every piece of jewelry-making equipment available.

"I can do anything that most professional jewelers can do," he said proudly.

And that includes setting stones into gold, silver and copper pieces.

"My UNLV instructor couldn't teach me how to set stones," said Georges, "so I went to the library, got a book, and I read it three times until I knew for certain what to do. I can now do it as well as any jeweler."

Because he devotes heavily concentrated attention to each of his students in the senior community, jewelry classes are kept to a maximum of six. They're conducted on Fridays for four consecutive weeks of three-hour classes.

"I estimate that I've instructed about 600 students in jewelry making over the years," Georges noted. His most recent class was scheduled to begin March 2.

Herb Jaffe was an op-ed columnist and investigative reporter for most of his 39 years at the Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J. His newest novel, "All For Nothing," is now available. Contact him at hjaffe@cox.net.

 

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