On Thursdays, we read reviews or news stories about art and design and study the language used to describe it.  This week’s article is about the work of Derek Katzenback, a jeweler and gem cutter who won AGTA Spectrum Awards two years in a row.


Here are the first five paragraphs from GIA (Gemology Institute of America):

There’s one question that keeps award-winning jeweler and gem cutter Derek Katzenbach motivated to “push the boundaries” of his own skills: “How did you do that?”

Katzenbach, a GIA GJG, asks it of the artists he admires, and he hopes his designs can pique a similar curiosity.

Katzenbach’s work has earned the New Jersey native two honors from the American Gem Trade Association (AGTA) in the last two years. In 2016, he won “Best Use of Color” in the Summer AGTA Spectrum Awards for a bicolor tourmaline ring created for a client, and in 2017, he took home first place honors in the Spectrum Awards’ “Objects of Art” category for his “Colors of Maine” gemstone kaleidoscope.

The recognition is exciting and humbling for Katzenbach, who owns Katzenbach Designs, a studio in the mountains of Maine that specializes in locally sourced tourmaline, precision faceting, fantasy-cut gemstones and custom-designed jewelry.

“My philosophy when designing a piece is to follow what the stone tells you,” Katzenbach says. “The best pieces come from taking risks throughout the process – it’s the only way to develop your own style and see what will work.”

In the first paragraph, the author uses the phrase “push the boundaries.” This means you are trying to go further or to become better at something. In the second paragraph, he is referred to as a GIA GJG, which means a Graduate Jeweler Gemologist for GIA.

In the third paragraph, the author tells us a little about Katzenbach’s background. He is from New Jersey (he is a native of that place), and he has won two awards (honors) from the AGTA. Notice the prefix bi- means two; bicolor, bicycle, binoculars, etc.

In the fourth paragraph, we learn about how the designer feels about his awards. We also find out where he works and what he specializes in, which means the thing he does best or most. The phrase locally-sourced means that the tourmaline comes from that area. Facets are the small, flat surfaces on a jewel, so precision faceting means that those facets are created precisely, or very carefully. A fantasy is something not real, like something out of a dream, so fantasy-cut means something unreal or dreamlike.

In the last paragraph, there is a quote from the designer. His advice to other designers is to follow what the stone tells you. I think he means that you have to really study the stone you’re working with and create a design based on what you notice about its character. Finally, he says that the best pieces come from taking risks throughout the process. Taking a risk is like taking a chance. The result might be good or bad, but you won’t know if you don’t take a risk and find out.

I’ve chosen 5 words or phrases for you to focus on today. They are in bold. If you don’t know them, look up the meaning, synonyms, antonyms, and other forms of these words. You can find links to Merriam-Webster dictionary sites at the bottom of this page.

What do you think of this article?  Which phrases do you like best?  Do you have questions about the vocabulary?  Do you want to suggest a review for me to discuss next week?  Leave a comment below!

To read the entire article, written by Jaime Kautsky on January 26, 2018, click the link below: