Mike Manasseri adjusts the microscope so he can see to set 1/2 millimeter orange sapphires into the channel setting of a ring he is creating.
Micropavé is the technique and Manasseri has designed jewelry blending it with wax carving and inlay work for more than two decades.
"Designing is an adventure everyday," he said. "I like custom work, especially when customers bring something challenging."
He creates settings in platinum, silver and all different colors of gold.
"It takes the same amount of time to come up with a custom design in silver as it does gold," he said.
Intricate modern styles are his passion, but he also enjoys the fine detail of 1930s style filigree and carving lost wax figures, such as animals and mermaids.
He has an eye for color and though he claims opal and amethyst as his favorite stones and that they are highly complementary when set together, one merely has to look at his other creations to know he loves to play with rich, bold colors.
Manasseri's first job on the way to his career was not as a gold- or silversmith.
He was a plastics supervisor and got fed up with that, so he went to school for metal fabrication.
"I started to "cab" my own stones on a lapidary machine and create my own settings," he said.
From there, Manasseri returned to community college in Scottsdale, took classes and his jewelry took on its modern style.
About six months before he started making jewelry, Manasseri and the woman he has been married to for 21 years, tied the knot.
Her name is Pearl.
"You'll be a good saleslady for me, I told her when we got married," Manasseri said, then smiled.
Name: Mike Manasseri
Medium: Master jeweler. Specializing in micropavé stone setting, wax carving, jewelry fabrication and lapidary work and restorations.
Motto: I want my customers to leave happy and come back when they want another piece of jewelry.
Advice to beginning artists: I think beginning jewelry artists should concentrate on future designs because that is where they can begin to make money.
Awards most proud: My certificates from college jewelry classes.
Hometown: Amsterdam, New York
Why Payson? I have contracted with jewelry stores and even owned my own store, but seven years ago I wanted to get out of the rat race, so my wife Pearl and I did.
Upcoming project: A chalice representing the Tribes of Israel for my church.
Favorite books: right now, books on hand-engraving.
Favorite movies: Any film with Robert DeNiro in it.
Point of contact: (928) 468-8473