"I like the primitive quality of the forming process… Watching the process unfold as a direct result of repetitious hammer blows can be mesmerizing."
Bill Fretz began teaching himself jewelry his junior year in high school, followed by four years of jewelry and silversmithing training with Hans Christiansen at the School For American Craftsmen at R.I.T in Rochester New York. After graduating in 1969 with high honors, Bill was an instructor at The Cleveland Institute of Art under Fred Miller and John Paul Miller. It was the beginning of hammer and stake regrinding that would later lead to tool design.
Opening his first workshop in 1970 in St. Peters, Pa., Bill and his wife Marian, started a retail jewelry business. They moved to Kennebunkport, Maine in 1974, the same year both were in the World Silver Show in Mexico City. Recently, with three grants from the Maine Technology Institute, Bill first designed a set of miniature stakes for jewelers, followed by a line of hammers based on silversmithing scaled for jewelry.
The family tradition continues with their son, Jordan, who manufactures the hammer line in his workshop in Vietnam. Currently, Bill and Marian Fretz are designing their work in Bucksport, Maine.
ABOUT FRETZ DESIGN
Fretz Design evolved from a jewelry business started in 1970. Marian (Jordan) Fretz, recently graduated from the University of Maine with a marketing degree was working in Boston. Bill Fretz was teaching at the Cleveland Institute of Art, having graduated from the School for American Craftsmen in Rochester, NY. They joined forces to start Fretz Goldsmiths in St. Peters Village in Pennsylvania. They moved the business to Kennebunkport in 1974 and expanded into a gallery including their jewelry. The tool designs started with small stakes to set the unusual Maine tourmaline that they were commissioned to set.
Jordan Fretz began a jewelry business of his own while in grade school and sold craft fairs in the early 1980’s. This evolved into a custom jewelry business making fabricated gold and platinum jewelry marketed in New York.
The bezel stakes were first introduced to the jewelry community at SNAG in 2003.
The business was renamed Fretz Design LLC to better reflect the company’s expanding design interests. Jordan moved to Vietnam and took over the tool production and made the first Fretz hammers in 2006. The Fretz tool line has grown to include a wide range of hammers and stakes. Fretz tools are designed with multiple uses so each metalsmith can pursue a unique vision.