This week’s First Wednesdays Conversation: Why Gold? features master goldsmith Jeanette K. Caines, Museum of Arts and Design Curator Barbara Gifford, curator of A View from the Jeweler’s Bench Sasha Nixon, and Alexis Castor, social historian of the ancient Mediterranean whose main research focus is how jewelry and adornment, as elements of dress worn every day. Enjoy cool jazz, warm vibes, and a glass of wine; see our fascinating exhibitions and learn from provocative conversations about the objects on view.


Jeanette K. Caines is a master Goldsmith with over 27 years experience. She is the director and owner of Jewelry Arts Inc, the leading jewelry school in New York City and the only center for teaching ancient jewelry making techniques in the world. Her current projects include an Etruscan earring analysis and reproduction with The Metropolitan Museum of Art and a study with the College of Art and Design at Beijing University of Technology to document and revive the almost lost art of Chinese Filigree. An award winning author of Soldering Demystified, she was featured in a 2016 PBS Nova special Treasures of the Earth: Metals.

Alexis Castor is a social historian of the ancient Mediterranean, with special focus on Greece and Etruria. Her research interests focus on how Greek and Etruscan elite classes in general, and women in particular, used jewelry to express their status. Gold earrings, necklaces and bracelets represented real wealth in the ancient world, and men and women wore jewelry on specific occasions to show off their own social position in the community, particularly in religious and funerary rituals. Alexis is an Associate Professor of Classics at Franklin and Marshall College where she teaches three different types of history courses in the Classics department: 100-level and 200-level ancient history courses on ancient Greece or Rome, and thematic topics that include Race and Ethnicity in the Classical World or Ancient Law and Order; intermediate ancient Greek courses; and 400-level advanced ancient history seminars. She is currently preparing a monograph-length study that investigates the ways that men and women wore jewelry in Greece and Italy, Jewelry in Greece and Eturia (900-200 BCE): A Social History.

Barbara Gifford
is an assistant curator at the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) in New York City. Over the past five years, she has served as part of the curatorial team for several exhibitions and craft mediums, including La Frontera: Encounters Along the Border, Counter-Couture: Handmade Fashion in an American Counterculture, Voulkos: The Breakthrough Years,and Ebony Patterson: buried again to carry on growing…Gifford is curating three upcoming MAD exhibitions, including Robert Baines: Fake News and True Love, The World of Anna Sui, and 45 Stories in Jewelry. She has written for many publications, including Metalsmith magazine, Modern Magazine, The Journal of Modern Craft, and for the catalogs La Frontera: Encounters Along the Border, Voulkos: The Breakthrough Years, and Ralph Pucci: The Art of the Mannequin. She holds an MA in the history of the decorative arts, design, and culture from the Bard Graduate Center.


Sasha Nixon
is a curator, historian, and practicing metalsmith. She specializes in the study of contemporary art jewelry, particularly on how individual artists are influenced by ancient and historical jewelry styles and techniques. She was the Center for Craft’s 2018 Windgate curatorial intern at the Museum of Arts and Design and is co-curator of MAD’s exhibition Fake News and True Love: Fourteen Stories by Robert Baines (October 2018–March 2019) and is currently co-curating the exhibition ANTIQUEMANIA, presented at Pratt Manhattan during the inaugural New York City Jewelry Week (November 12–18, 2018). Nixon presented her paper “Pixels Bejeweled: Modern Media, Contemporary Jewelry, and the Replication of Desire” at the Fashion Institute of Technology’s international symposium Digital Meets Handmade: Jewelry in the 21st Century in May 2018. That paper and “In the Studio: Lin Cheung,” written for Metalsmith magazine will be published later this year.


Leading support for Public Programs at Bard Graduate Center comes from Gregory Soros and other generous donors