by Lori King-Kocsis
“My great pleasure is the marking of special occasions with my clients. We brainstorm and sketch ideas that can only spark from the creative collaboration of craftsman and patron. And then I bring those visions into the reality of precious metals and gems. It doesn’t get much better than that. “ ~Joel Bagnal, Goldsmith
Entering the quaint workshop which doubles as a storefront on historic Aviles Street in St. Augsutine, one finds exquisite works of art made of sterling silver and real gold beneath the glass cases. Each piece is unique unto itself and was created by the Master Jeweler who owns the shop, Joel Bagnal. Bagnal has been bringing quality craftsmanship to St. Augustine’s locals and visitors since 2001.
A Business is Born
It all began with his love of design and art. Bagnal graduated from Stetson University with a Major in Art. Stetson was followed by a Master of Education from Boston University and a Master of Fine Arts in Metalsmithing from the University of Georgia.
It was after Bagnal received the National Endownment for the Arts Craftsmen’s Grant, at Cedar Crest College, Allentown, PA., that he left teaching and opened his first shop in Wellesley, MA in 1978. He began offering distinctively handmade designs in gold and silver, commemorating marriages, partnerships, and any special occasion or relationship with collaboratively designed objects of adornment.
What are Joel’s most romantic or favorite pieces? He couldn’t say just one individual piece. The pieces he enjoys the most are wedding rings. Working with clients to custom design their wedding rings has become his specialty.
It’s no wonder that wedding rings are Bagnal’s specialty. He recalls a romantic story about the first time he met his wife-to-be, Nancy “Hookey” Hamilton, a prominent St. Augustine photographer. He was staying in an apartment in Old Town when, one night, as he sat on his balcony enjoying a nightcap, a woman appeared directly across from him, on her balcony. Conversation ensued and the rest is history.
The Cedar Crest College Mace
A Mace is a large rod with ancient origins symbolizing authority. Bagnal was commissioned to create a Mace for Cedar Crest College as the gift of the senior class of ‘73 to honor the faculty. The ceremonial academic mace was made in silver and rosewood during over 300 hours of work at his bench.
A Collaborative Approach
“The design chemistry between jewelry designer and client is the creative breath that brings the piece to life. With PDFs and JPEGs, I routinely scan my color originals and email them anywhere. So, with the combination of a very old discipline and very new technology, we are not bound by geography.” Bagnal provides progress shots of each stage of the creative process provided to the client and expert advice in diamonds and gemstones.
Joel Bagnal is at heart an artist with an eye for beauty, depth and history. Just like the stunning landscapes and photography by local artists that adorn the walls of his shop/workshop, his art is representative of something unique and special that has evolved in St. Augustine over many years, and is a gift to our community.
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