Born in New York City, Ronald Hayes Pearson attended the University of Wisconsin from 1942 to 1943 and, after service in the U.S. Merchant Marine, continued his studies at the School for American Craftsmen at Alfred University from 1947 to 1948. In 1949 he enrolled in the Reed & Barton Silver Company’s special design program. A founding member of the Society of North American Goldsmiths, Pearson taught jewelry making at leading craft schools and designed flatware for major silver companies.
Pearson’s long and distinguished career as a jeweler and metalsmith was honored in 1976 when he was elected a fellow of the American Craft Council and in 1987 when he was awarded an honorary doctorate from the Portland School of Art in Maine for his contributions to American jewelry design.
Kenneth R. Trapp and Howard Risatti Skilled Work: American Craft in the Renwick Gallery (Washington, D.C.: National Museum of American Art with the Smithsonian Institution Press, 1998)
Although his father was an etcher and an art critic, Ronald Hayes Pearson had no intention of becoming an artist. Following his military service in World War II, however, he became interested in metalworking, opened his first workshop in a converted chicken coop in 1948, and began a career that spanned five decades. Pearson’s forged metal pieces emphasize clarity of form over surface ornamentation. He viewed precious metals as plastic substances to be stretched or compressed into simple, elegant forms. He was a founding member of the Society of North American Goldsmiths (SNAG) and a generous teacher known to employ aspiring artists in his workshop. Pearson is now regarded as one of the most influential figures in American metalsmithing.