Bisbee jeweler Glenn Hogan has spent most of his life living with the
practitioners of the craft he has chosen as his own.
The quality of his work, and to some extent the price it commands, are
testaments to what he has already learned. The 42 year old resident of Kauai says the learning will continue now with each piece
of jewelry he creates. His father, Joe Hogan, is a legendary Bisbee jeweler who
prefers to work with native Arizona
stones. Glenn carries on this tradition with the Arizona stones.
“My earliest memories are of my grandmother doing her thing,”
Hogan said. “That’s where most of this business is learned, by watching. I guess I’ve picked up quite a
bit since I was a little kid that I wasn’t even aware of.”
His grandmother’s “thing” was jewelry as well. Ruth Hogan worked in silver and gold in the Swedish
style, a very intricate, finished style. She learned from her friends as a girl. Ruth started doing it professionally at age 37 in the 1940’s while living in
New York City. Eventually
she opened a gallery in Swathmore, Pennsylvania, where she featured her own work and that of other
artists in a variety of media.
Her son, Joe Hogan, remembers watching his mother work at her jewelry. He
recalls that at the time, this did not interest him at all. “I grew up
being a metal worker and doing the manualized machine shop and the tool making, so I used to make tools for her,” Joe
But after moving west in 1968, during what he recalls as “pretty much a high-energy period,” the elder
Hogan decided that jewelry would be a better way to go than what he was doing. He
then began developing the blend of contemporary and traditional western jewelry that he is known for.
“Glenn would come to Tucson, so I’d think up things for him to do. I gave him a stone to cut one day
when he was about nine years old. I made him do it,” Joe Hogan said. “It was a moonstone, and he did a damn good job. I saved it and gave it to him
a while back.”
After that experience, Joe said his son would watch but was never really eager to do more. That didn’t really
worry Joe, who said that during the heyday of the craft, the Renaissance, apprentices did not really start serious study until
they were about 15 or 16.
“I don’t really remember it, “ said Glenn. “ I was always into more unusual crafts. I’ve
always been impelled to work with my hands, and that led me into horse-drawn vehicle restoration for about four years.”
In 1981, Hogan began working in Patagonia on wagon and carriage restoration with a woodworker, a wheelright, and a blacksmith.
Many of the things he learned during the four years he spent on that job have been applicable to the jewelry he makes today,
During that period, he began looking at jewelry making as a way of making a living. In 1985, Hogan said, “I realized
it was the thing for me.”
“Being able to take a stone and fashion it so that it is just the way you want it in your piece is great,”
said Hogan, who sometimes works the stone to fit his needs, but often will allow a piece of jewelry to grow out of the stone’s
characteristics. “I don’t really have a preference. It depends on
the stone, and what I am doing at the time.”
Hogan said he prefers to work in local turquoise and malachite because of their unique characteristics. But not all
samples of the minerals are of the appropriate quality for his needs. When he selects the samples he will work, Hogan looks
for the same qualities jewelers have sought for thousands of years:
Beauty, rarity, and durability.
He said that depending on the quality of the stone, turquoise can cost between 1000 dollars and 3000 dollars a pound.
The highest quality nuggets are sold in carats (.2 grams) at about 100 dollars per carat.
“I select the rocks I work on. A lot of times a kid or someone will come to me with a batch of good rock, or
an old timer will have some rock they collected when they were working for the ‘corporation’ ” Hogan said.
“I look for the color. It’s something that is inherent to Bisbee
turquoise and malachite. Rock of this grade is rare and found in only two or three locations in the world.”
The local malachite has a quality jewelers call ‘chatoyancy’, a play of light on the surface that gives
an opal it’s fire and makes the tiger eye glow, Hogan said.
He said the host rock matrix in turquoise, referred to as spiderweb, is something jewelry buyers look for in turquoise
because it adds to the originality of the stone.
But according to Joe Hogan, that is a preference dictated by contemporary American tastes, and not an indication of
the turquoise’s true value.
“In Europe or the New York market, they prefer pure turquoise. The Arabic peoples don’t want to see
anything in it. Americans like the matrix though,” he said.
Glenn Hogan said he has a basic line of products that he produces for several shops.
It is the custom design work he prefers.
“There are two basic types of people, the one who wants something totally original, something they are not going
to see on someone else’s neck or wrist. And the one who wants a standard wedding band,” Hogan said “I do
most of my work locally for people coming to the area, our tourist community.”
The cost of materials and the amount of time it takes to complete a piece of jewelry make it difficult to get rich
at the craft, Hogan said. But as skills develop and word of mouth brings me more custom work, “I can make a modest living.”
There are some risks, some that are even a little life threatening, Hogan said.
“Fireworks are dangerous, they can blow up in your hand,” he said as he sort of looked off into space…hm.
“ Malachite is poisonous, you have to be extremely careful or you can die from copper arsenic poisoning,”
Now that Glenn is a Kauai Jeweler, he chooses to trust his father to select stones from his native Bisbee’s treasures:
Azurite, Campbellite, Varacite, Chrysocola, Hematite, and a variety of Native
Opal as well as the entire spectrum of the highest quality turquoise available in the world. The
Desert now meets the Tropical Paradise of the Hawaiian Islands and we can all share in what has become this astonishingly
rare, superiorly crafted ‘art to wear’ from Glenn at 42. With this
is the continuation of a Hogan family tradition that we are all truly blessed to be able to experience today:
the best of true artistry, gentlemanly ethics, and World-Class expertise
in what truly constitutes a gift and giving it.
Aloha from Kauai, Peace and Love-
an original native natural cowboy hippie,