Thomas Gentille

Thomas Gentille

Born in 1936 in Mansfield, Ohio, Thomas Gentille is an eminent studio jeweler with more than half a century of experience in the field. Gentille first envisioned a career as an artist under the mentorship of teacher Clay Walker, and he attended the Cleveland Institute of Art at Walker’s recommendation. He studied painting there with a minor in sculpture and completed his BFA in 1958. While in Cleveland, Gentille received extensive training in color theory from professors Kenneth Bates and Joseph McCullough. He took his first jewelry course with Fred Miller during his senior year, but didn’t maintain a personal studio until returning from a tour of duty with the US Army in Germany. Gentille settled in Manhattan after his service and held a number of odd jobs to support his work as a jeweler, most notably working as a handyman at the Museum of Contemporary Crafts (known now as the Museum of Arts and Design). Over the next few decades, Gentille would build one of a the most celebrated bodies of work in contemporary jewelry. Known for his precise, elegant forms and technically advanced treatment of non-precious materials like wood and eggshell, Gentille achieves near flawlessness in his one-of-a-kind works. He has also taught and lectured at schools around the country, including long stints in New York City at the 92nd Street Y – where he established and ran the jewelry program – and at Parsons School of Design (now The New School for Design). In 1968, he authored Step-by-Step Jewelry, an instructional manual on jewelry-making that is still widely used by students in the field. In addition to his domestic success, Gentille gained a committed following around Europe; he was the first American to be named Klassiker der Moderne by Schmuck, a prestigious annual exhibition of international jewelry, and was awarded the Bavarian State Prize in 2004. His work has been collected widely and can be found at museums including the Victoria and Albert in London and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Additionally honors include selection for an oral history interview by the Smithsonian Archives of American Art in 2009. He was elected to the American Craft Council’s College of Fellows in 2018.