Uncovering the Similarities: Performing Surgery and Making Jewelry

Life is not a straight line.

In the past, I’ve talked about how life is full of curves. Growing up, my path started with art classes and creative endeavors, but then took a detour for many years while I went to medical school and practiced surgery. Things went full circle when I went back to the artist life, becoming a jeweler after vision problems prevented me from performing operations. 

While it might seem obvious to some that there are many similarities between surgery and making jewelry, others fail to see this.

In my mind, they both share the following things: 

1. Working with your hands
 

Working with the metal of fine jewelry requires a delicate and skilled touch—as does any surgery. I enjoy working with my hands to shape the metal of my jewelry with similar deftness.

2. Creative problem solving 

This piece started out with a flat, rectangular frame with unforgiving lines. By turning the frame on its edge and making it wavy, it not only worked to my strengths, it made for a much more interesting and unique piece of jewelry.


This piece started out with a flat, rectangular frame with unforgiving lines. By turning the frame on its edge and making it wavy, it not only worked to my strengths, it made for a much more interesting and unique piece of jewelry.

As a surgeon, you always need to be prepared for anything—and this requires a creative mindset. If something is not working, you need to create a workaround. The same principle applies to making jewelry. Sometimes the metal won’t bend the way I’d like it to or the angles I’m trying to make aren’t coming out right. When I hit a wall, I come up with creative solutions to work with the piece, instead of against it.

3. Building endurance 
 

It takes a ton of patience to be a good surgeon and you need to have the endurance and stamina to see things through. Truly, there is no comparison to the adrenaline rush of being in the operating room with someone's life in your hands, but creating something from a flat sheet of metal into a complex work of art also requires a ton of endurance. It takes a lot of work to see each piece through to its completion.

4. Making people feel good
 

Correcting a problem for a patient provides them with an overwhelming sense of relief. It was wonderful seeing my patients feel better as a result of the surgery they received. Additionally, when I create a special piece of jewelry, I love to watch as my work becomes a source of joy in my customer’s lives.

5. Intellectually stimulating
 

Surgeons constantly need to keep up on the latest medical trends. Meanwhile, a jeweler needs to keep up on the latest trends in art and design. Through my research as a jeweler, I’ve learned so much about the composite of precious metals, gems, and jewels, as well as design aspects that balance a look—it’s fascinating work.

6. Feeling a sense of accomplishment 
 

Whether it’s saving someone’s life or creating a unique piece of fine jewelry, I enjoy being able to accomplish what I set out to do each day and take pride in the completion.

While I no longer perform surgery, I still feel connected to that part of my life with every piece of unique jewelry I create—the problem solving and technical skills keep me on my toes. And like every human being and each surgical case, each piece I make is different in some way. Life may not be a straight line, but over the years I’ve learned how important it is to embrace every turn with open arms.  

If you’re ready to embrace your uniqueness with a special piece of jewelry made just for you, contact me for information on custom jewelry.  

Lori Gottlieb