Today I was asked what a finding was by a non-jewellery person. It seemed a simple question to answer – I made a list of all the things I called findings and confidently said, ‘Findings are the bits and pieces of metal that hold jewellery together – chain, clasps, links, bead caps, earring bits, etc.’
Ironically, I had just taken a photo of my latest creation that had findings in abundance.
Then I wondered – was I right? So, off to Google Search. Some dictionaries define findings as the small tools and materials used by artisans – not just jewellers. Others link them specifically to jewellers by defining them as small parts used to join jewellery components together.
Either way, it struck me what a strange word it was to apply to a group of objects or to small tools and materials. I wondered - why are findings called findings? Answering this ‘why?’ question was certainly trickier than answering the ‘what’ question.
Deep amongst various definitions of findings possibilities emerged. In legalese a synonym for ‘finding’ is a holding – could it be that they all ‘hold’ things together.
Finding in Olde English means to come upon, alight on and there is some surmising that this come from a German would that means to go, pass, path, bridge. Were they seen as bridges between components.
In an article trying to answer my question I found this:
Every jeweler, his or her apprentices, and /or journeymen and women had to be able to make all their own components. Each project required the jeweler or apprentice to hammer out a sheet of gold or silver and draw lengths of wire. Being cautious, they generally hammered or drew a little more metal than was needed.
The leftover bits would be set aside for later use on small projects or to modify an existing piece of jewelry. These bits came to be called findings. They were used to make eye pins, jump rings, or other small components. A small piece of wire could be used to replace a missing earwire. A leftover piece of metal might be folded to form a catch for a necklace. No scrap would be thrown away, even the filings were kept, remelted, and used again. This practice remained common until jewelers began to specialize.
I still didn’t feel I had my answer – still the question ‘why’ findings persisted. Another site focusing on the history of jewellery surmised this”
The etymology is uncertain but it might relate to the old use of the word "findan" to indicate things obtained through research and study; in some cultures artisans would be given their first set of professional tools as a recognition that they had learned their trade.
So, what do you think? What do you know? Can you help me grow my findings about findings?