Why would a jeweler develop software for art collectors?
18K jewelry & photograph by Carol Hagen
I discovered a burning desire to make jewelry as a student in 1979; after completing my apprenticeship with master jeweler, John Chumlea, I worked in the jewelry trade for the next 22 years. I've had the good fortune and privilege to design and make hundreds of bespoke orders for clients, I also collaborated with gifted jewelers and stone cutters to create original designs. Through out this time, I managed teams of jewelers and served as quality control for special orders, repairs and estate jewelry restoration.
911 in 2001 jettisoned me into the digital technology field. My circle of small business jewelery suppliers were closing and my retail representatives were struggling. As this door closed, a second door opened; the transition started in 1996 when I was asked to freelance as a photographer for Len Aronson, who is an ASA Accredited Senior Appraiser and international art dealer. Together we made the bumpy transition from film to floppy disc, to CD, to zip drives and finally, emailed PDFs. It was exciting to consider how private collectors and major institutions could digitize their catalogs to protect valuable inventory data. I formed a partnership with three men whose goal became designing user friendly software with an image library, forms and reports that insurance companies, appraisers and the FBI would recognize met their standards for stolen art recovering. Our company name was Visnulimited.
Curatorial Management System (CMS) software for collectors, appraisers and artists was copyrighted in 2002, our photography and documentation services met international Object ID standards for Interpol and the United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS) appraisal standards for tax deductible donations. Our products were recognized by the international Art Loss Registry in 2004, Art-Care,com, ArtDaily.com, and purchased by institutions, private collectors, appraisers and artists in the US, South America and Europe. Teaching artists how to organize their digitized portfolio and provide accurate documentation at the point of sale was a message we took across the country through lectures and symposiums. We had a great run; but as with many millennium software start-ups, we couldn't keep pace with the industry giants. We stopped developing and selling products in 2009. I continued offering photography and documentation services until 2011.
Even during the years that I served as CEO of Visnulimited and afterwards, when I freelanced as a fine art photographer, I continued to study and read about jewelry. I continued to receive calls from clients asking me to connect them with the jewelers. I mentor university metals students and high school photography students. I didn’t stop handling jewelry daily: my collection includes Elsa Peretti, Mignon Faget, Thomas Mann, Henry Dunay, David Yurman, Sabadini & estate jewelry and family heirlooms that include British, Norwegian and American jewelry.
Fine art photography and documentation gave me the opportunity to work with rarely exhibited art and antiquities. My jewelers "eye" and training in gems and metals was a constant asset. By the same token, I was pleased to realize digital technology and developing inventory systems enhanced my jewelery arts skills. Today my passion for jewelry and art is as intense as ever.