Arthur Smith: Renowned Jewelry Designer & Maker

Written by Jae Jones

Arthur Smith is credited with being the first successful black jewelry designer. The modernist jeweler was known to create elegant pieces for famous singers, including Duke Ellington. Smith’s jewelry pieces were made of gold, silver, and copper with semi-precious stones. His designs were always creative with style and flair.

Smith was born in Cuba in 1917. In 1920, the family left Cuba for the United States and settled in Brooklyn. Years later, he received a scholarship to Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. After graduating in 1940, he attended jewelry-making classes at New York University. He briefly worked for the Harlem YMCA and supervised a Junior Achievement group in Harlem.

In 1946, Smith later opened up his own shop in Greenwich Village and was well-respected in the business throughout the 1970s. Although several other jewelers have tried to duplicate his work, many fall short.

For 10 years, he served as an active member of the Ellington Society, a group of enthusiasts who put on a concert of Ellington’s music every spring.



Modernist Jewelry by Arthur Smith

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About the author

Jae Jones

Jae Jones has been writing professionally for over 10 years. She holds a degree in Business Administration, and enjoys writing on various topics.

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