Messenger: Apprenticeship II, Cape Town 1971

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An important part of my induction into the Trade was my role as a messenger. Jewellery is not usually accomplished in a single workshop – there is a network of tradesmen and merchants involved: the diamond and precious stone dealer, the gold and silver merchants, the sellers of findings and semi-precious stones, the pearl merchants, the setters, the engravers, the suppliers of tools and expendables, the man who has the right draw-plate or triplet, the man who can advise on the correct soldering procedure, the workshops that do the best (and worst) casting, the expert polisher who has the special lap for polishing bevels, the lapidary, the various retail and wholesale stores. All were located in the centre of Cape Town within walking distance of each other in buildings ranging from five to ten storeys high. I wove a complex three-dimensional trail between them all, on balconied or open streets, in lifts with or without operators, up and down piss-smelling stairwells, carrying gold rings, diamonds, findings, tools and equipment, messages, a bottle of some chemical, the one hammer that will do the job.

Apprenticeship Part III

 

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