Gudmund Jos Olsson is a founder and owner of Northfield Designer Goldsmiths. He opened the doors of his first shop in 1972 at Northfield Common in Schoen Place, Pittsford, New York. In 1984 he moved the shop to its current location at 700 Park Avenue in Rochester, New York. Whether Olsson works alone or has the help of gifted craftsmen, everything that is sold at his shop has also been created there. Presently, he has the help of Heather Danielson, who graduated with a metal working and jewelry degree from Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), and his son Erik who studied at the Museum School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. He is also helped by Max Iversen, who studied at RIT and Binghamton, and now interns at Northfield.
Gudmund holds a Fil.Kand. degree from Upsala University, a DGI degree from Stockholm's Grafiska Institutet, and a DIHR degree from Stockholm's Institutet for Hogre Reklamutbildning. He studied silversmithing with Hans Christensen at Rochester Institute of Technology(RIT). Hans Christiansen, considered one of the foremost silversmiths to have worked in America, came to RIT from George Jensen Silver of Copenhagen, Denmark.
Mr. Olsson was born in Sweden, a country very much concerned with what is functional, and Gudmund's approach to jewelry design is founded on that very concept. He studies the shape of a hand or wrist so that the jewelry that is crafted flows comfortably with the natural lines. A simple and natural design of jewelry will greatly enhance the gems that are placed in such a setting. He avoids textures or busy organic forms next to a gem, as they tend to compete with and absorb the gem. Naturally asymmetrical lines and the play of light in the gems together with functionality and simplicity are what make the piece interesting and attractive.
Mr. Olsson is a man with intriguing hobbies. When he is not crafting fine jewelry, he can be found working on his Bonsai trees and his Japanese garden. He says they are both religious disciplines adopted in the secular world. In studying the origins of these hobbies, he became interested in oriental art forms and philosophies. He has found them to be very compatible with the Scandinavian mentality, as they are similar in their naturally functional, down to earth and practical way of thinking. Gudmund's simple asymmetrical shapes blend well with accents that suggest Oriental influence.
I have been asked why I think people like to have a piece of jewelry individually crafted for them, as opposed to just picking something up that is more readily available. I think it has to do with the meaning a piece of jewelry has. Even though I feel for all those fellow jewelry workers laboring, often under hazardous conditions, in the industrial production of jewelry, I think people, given the choice, prefer the old way of jewelry making. This is when artisans talk with their customers to create jewelry that will express and be a part of someone's personality. (By personality I do not mean merely an appearance, but truly being a certain type of person.)
On the subject of meaning, I would like to mention some of the most important things we craft; the engagement ring and the wedding bands. You give them to say that you desire to share the rest of your life with someone you love. Should these rings be mass produced catalogue items? The engagement ring holds the finest gem known. Should it be presented in a thoughtless design when it would be even more beautiful in an interesting setting? I am certain that the vow it stands for gains in meaning when the ring is crafted by hand for the person wearing it.