For years, Richard Hamilton could be found in the back of Claudia Jewelry in Edgartown, creating classically styled rings and charms. He built a wholesale line, employed aspiring jewelers and created custom pieces. Then he moved to the Edgartown Jeweler’s Studio, a cooperative he started with three other jewelers including his mentee Kenneth Pillsworth.

But now, at age 67, Mr. Hamilton mostly works on commissions, creating detailed jewelry in a studio built into his Edgartown home. He likes to sit down with his customers, taking note of the jewelry they are wearing, their style, their habits, their vision, and their budget.

“I have to start creating a piece of a half hour period of just talking to them,” Mr. Hamilton said. “I have to start the development and close the sale, my father’s side of things.”

He first came to the Island in 1979 and settled in at Moonstone and Claudia Jewelry. — Jeanna Shepard

His father was a salesman, Mr. Hamilton explained, referring to his influence on the process.

Mr. Hamilton grew up in Scituate before moving to Atlanta, Ga. in high school. Though always interested in mineralogy, it wasn’t clear he would translate that interest into a career in jewelry. In the late 1960s, he studied engineering at Georgia Tech and was politically active, attending the counter inaugural demonstration in Washington against President Nixon, going to a memorial service for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and working for the Great Speckled Bird, an underground, progressive newspaper created in Atlanta. He floated between different social groups.

“I was hanging out in the street with street hippies, I was going to classes, I was hanging out in the political community with my roommates at 163rd street,” he said.

During that time, he also helped start the Atlanta Crafts Cooperative in an old laundromat.

“That’s about when I started making jewelry. I didn’t really have a lot of training or experience, I was kind of figuring it out myself,” he said. More than the technical skills needed to create a piece of jewelry, Mr. Hamilton learned the communication skills that he says are at the heart of how he makes jewelry.

Mr. Hamilton first came to the Island in 1979. The Island reminded him of Scituate, he said, and after traveling back and forth for a bit, he settled in, working for Moonstone and then Claudia.

The work is varied, but the main focus is rings and charms. — Jeanna Shepard

When creating custom pieces, he speaks with the customer four or five times during the process. He wants make sure the piece is developing into something they will cherish forever. It was while creating one such piece that he met his girlfriend of 15 years, Sharyn Sooho. Ms. Sooho, a divorce attorney, showed Mr. Hamilton a piece of jade reminiscent of her mother’s ring that had been stolen in a robbery. She hoped he could fashioned it into a ring.

“I knew exactly what to do with it,” Mr. Hamilton said. He created a ring cast in 18 karat gold with a scalloped design on the sides.

“She still wears it quite a bit,” he said.

Mr. Hamilton doesn’t limit himself to one style but does works mostly with rings and charms. While talking with the Gazette, he wore two of his own rings, both made with ancient coins, dating as far back as 130 BC.

“A skilled person would get paid one or two of these a day,” he said of the coins.

At Claudia Jewelery in Edgartown, Paula McFarland pulled out a selection of Mr. Hamilton’s rings and charms from the display case.

“Rick is a treasure,” she said.

Mr. Hamilton seemed bemused by his own place as a jeweler of note on the Island. “It was an accidental journey, I just kind of fell into it,” he said.