Someone You Should Know: Training the next generation of goldsmiths

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Published: May. 25, 2022 at 6:26 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - A Sioux Falls man is training the next generation of goldsmiths.

Tom Arnoldy got his start in the jewelry business back in high school, when he was in Aberdeen. Now he is teaching others this unique profession.

“I was sitting in the living room with my mom and I had a part-time job at that time and I really didn’t like it. She was reading the paper and she had noticed a job opening with Curpatrick’s Jewelry in Aberdeen,” said Arnoldy.

Tom got the job and after working part-time through high school, his employers asked him if he was interested in joining the GIA, the Gemological Institute of America.

“I went to California the following year and studied jewelry,” said Arnoldy.

That would be the beginning of an almost 45-year career. He did everything in the business and eventually narrowed his focus into being a goldsmith.

“...Been interested in earth sciences and minerals that we work with, the gems we work with are all from the earth, and the metals we work with are all from the earth,” said Arnoldy. “As a goldsmith, we will do all aspects of repair, fabrication, design, building of mountings, we will set all the stones, solder... repair numerous items, any item that is gold, platinum or silver based, we will repair or build it...”

Tom runs Riddle’s Goldsmith Training Program. Students come from stores all over the region to Sioux Falls to learn from him.

“He’s really great. He shows us a lot of different things. He works with all of our styles, I feel like. I’ve learned, I’ve learned so much already,” said goldsmith trainee, Madison Deslauriers.

“I enjoy a lot the, you know the students that I work with, and a lot of them are younger, but not all. I’ve worked with people from 20-to-70-years-old. A fair amount of people at the bench will have some level of an art background,” said Arnoldy.

“You’re artistic if you like to work with, you know, fine detail, and that’s one thing about Tom, he’s a, he’s a great teacher, a great explainer, he also does a very good job of giving a hands-on experience as well as showing you how to do the different tasks,” said Riddle’s Jewelry Store manager, Brent Reisenaur.

Tom says technology has changed the business some, but can’t replace the human touch.

“In our world, we’re dealing with constant dimensional changes, different angles, with that, you pretty much have to do it by hand, Machines can just not take that away. There is going to be a hands-on portion to this industry, I feel, forever,” said Arnoldy.

The best part is seeing a finished product that may be a lifetime keepsake for someone, Arnoldy said, “from what it originally starts with to what it ends up to is like night and day. You know, something that is dull and drab to something that is bright and beautiful.”

Arnoldy said he’ll keep doing his work as long as his fingers and eyes are in shape, or at least for a while.

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