By Anna SADO and Mariusz PAJĄCZKOWSKI
On 15 August Jacek Baron, one of the most creative, talented and hard-working jewellery makers passed away. Although he used various stones in his career, amber was his passion.
His best and most spectacular pieces were created with amber, including his most memorable collection of mechanical jewellery or the Baron Cut he created. “I love amber because each nugget is different, each hides a surprise which I discover when I grind it, I’m enchanted by its colour variety, I love its smell and the many aesthetic possibilities offered by combining it with other materials,” he said in an interview for amber.com. pl, the Amber Website in January last year. He saw jewellery in everything. He drew inspiration from everything. Anything could become the beginning of a new design: architecture, fauna, flora, travel, people... He was not only a great designer, but also a talented artist jeweller, constantly looking for new solutions to express the idea that has just germinated in his mind in an even more perfect way. He was always full of ideas, he could not sit still. Eventually, he would start sketching patterns that came to his mind in order to remember them for the future. He left behind a lot of notebooks, sheets and napkins with sketches and gigabytes of files on his laptop. Those projects, as his family announced, will be systematically completed. Jacek always knew who he wanted to become. As a teenager, after a short adventure with non-precious metals, he started learning at a silver jewellery workshop. First in the Praga district of Warsaw, where he became acquainted with amber, and then in a workshop in Nowy Świat in Warsaw. At the age of 20, he knew more about silver treatment than many titled artisans. He felt metal and amber like no one else and used his skills uncompromisingly, not caring about trends and fashions. There was always a touch of madness in his designs, a large dose of perversity. He did not allow himself to think that something could not be done differently. Having an idea, he would put it into practice almost immediately. So quickly that it was often too soon – it often happened that his innovative designs went unnoticed only to delight with their freshness and novelty some time later. The trouble was, Jacek did not wait for the market’s belated reaction, because he was already far ahead... In this way, for over 40 years, he has effectively, like few others, changed the image of Polish amber jewellery. His innovative cuts and methods of setting and his lack of “respect” for the tradition of Gdansk craftsmanship outraged some, while others were delighted in it. This was reflected in numerous awards, e.g. in the Mercurius Gedanensis Competition where he received a distinction for a collection of mechanical jewellery with amber (1995), a special award for a series of bracelets in recognition of modern design and professional workmanship (1996), the Grand Prix for a bracelet with a mechanism for changing the stone (1998), and an award for the Amber Trail necklace for an innovative form of construction (2004). The market was fairly reserved in showing its admiration, although the multitude of copies of his designs seems to contradict this: even today, you can see undeniable inspirations by his ideas in many showcases at jewellery fairs... Jacek was never looking for ideas. They were in him. He did not shrink from challenges. Pearls, Swarovski crystals, zircons, diamonds and other precious stones, gold in many shades – all this was required by companies from Poland, China, the United States, Russia, the Czech Republic, the United Kingdom and Arab countries, with which he cooperated as a partner and designer. He was the author of small jewels and significant designs, and a host of unique, original technological solutions that he applied in his studio. Unfortunately, we will not be able to see his latest, almost finished project, a unique combination of recycled materials with gold, amber and diamonds... Jacek was eager to share his knowledge and experience. Many contemporary goldsmiths started their professional career in his workshop or during courses conducted by him, both in Poland and abroad. He was a friend, colleague and teacher. He quickly won people over. Not loving him was impossible. With great commitment, like few others, he put into practice the Greek aphorism carpe diem. Always smiling and optimistic about life and people, infectious with the belief that everything is possible – if not this way, then in a different way. He has started “from scratch” many times, so he has not been vain in this. This time, however, he did not succeed – he lost his battle with cancer.