Junior Fine Arts major Alla Hughes enjoys working with metals. So when it came time for her summer internship, working at a jewelry store was a natural fit.
Hughes spent her summer interning at Anemoni Jewelers in Hockessin, DE, owned by Benjamin Anemone, and located about three miles from her house in Landenberg, PA. She visited the store one day because she needed a backing for a pendant. “Ben and I started talking and I told him that I do metal work and he said to come behind the bench and do the (backing) myself. I was like, ‘really?’ Three hours later, with his help, we finished it and then I asked him if I could intern with him. He said yes.”
As part of her internship, Hughes is responsible for taking all of the jewelry out of the safe in the morning and putting each piece in the display cases. In the evening, she puts the jewelry back. She works with machinery to assist with jewelry and watch repair. She also helps customers find the piece of jewelry they want.
“I work with silver and different carats of gold,” she said. “Each metal is really different. They have different melting points and they feel different. When you file them or run them through a machine, there are certain points where you have to reheat them so it gets soft again. If you push a metal too far it will crack and that’s bad, so you have to be careful.”
Besides learning the ins and outs of jewelry design and repair, Hughes learned about how to run a business, including time management and customer service skills. “One woman ordered a ruby necklace but two weeks later when she saw it, she said it looked too pink. We had to re-order everything, which took weeks. You spend money on a diamond and if the customer doesn’t like it, you either send it back or you keep it. You gamble a lot with jewelry because you can’t afford to make a bad mistake.”
Hughes said she came to Moore because she enjoyed working with metals and wanted to make jewelry as well. “There are not many places where you can make jewelry, but I think I can still base my artwork around jewelry and the techniques to make jewelry,” she said. “I can make other things as well. One customer I met made miniature boats out of various tools.” Next semester, Hughes plans to take an advanced jewelry making class and she’s looking forward to it.
“I’m glad I had the experience at my internship. I finally got a job, in a way. I actually learned things, not just did what people told me I’d needed to do.”
Growing up, Hughes family moved around a lot. She transferred to Moore from Memphis College of Art because she received a scholarship and liked the sense of community at the College. “Everyone is nice here and they actually care about you.”