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’Tis the season of love (hey, Valentine’s Day)—and whether you’re treating your SO or yourself (you deserve it!), jewelry always plays well as the quintessential token of affection. Better still? Spreading the love to local artisans. So whether you gift a special piece now, next month or when the mood strikes you, think local. Here, four Raleigh jewelers chat their collections, how they got their start, what inspires them and more—in their own words.
Path: The heart behind what we do always has been to provide unique feel-good fashion for folks that is also good for the world and our future. Both graphic designers by trade, we held on to numerous printed materials (magazines, postcards, etc.) and never had the heart to recycle them. We knew there had to be a way for those pages to live on in a sustainable fashion. Being eco-fashion enthusiasts to begin with, we were stoked to start creating upcycled wearable accessories (and being able to work with family is a huge plus!). We soon realized the possibilities were endless when it came to rescuing typically discarded materials.
Fave piece: Steph: Having a 14-month-old who is interested in touching everything, I’ve been rocking the small Bela studs. Zulay: My go-to earrings recently have been the Steffi studs, or abstract design BrewDangle earrings!
DYK: Our biggest hope is that our small jewelry business helps people understand the importance of recycling. By wearing our pieces, we hope our customers understand how they’re helping our planet one piece at a time!
Path: JewelsByElan was started in 1987. I’ve had two stores in Manhattan and one in Westchester County. Since moving to Raleigh, I’ve been recreating the company’s image. I currently have an indoor space at the Raleigh Market at the Fairgrounds and three websites. Due to the pandemic, it’s become more and more important to have a significant online presence. I’ve taken this time to redesign my websites and to add more merchandise.
Inspo: Our jewelry and accessories have an Afrocentric twist. I love working with bright colors and patterns. Most of the jewelry I handcraft with semiprecious stones and beads. Currently, I’m working on original designs that are cast in metals like brass, pewter, gold and silver.
Fave piece: I contracted with a Tanzanian artist, and he gave me permission to take an original work of art and reinterpret it into jewelry. I made a beautiful bracelet with a cabochon.
Path: Around 2014, I was working at Raleigh Denim, and I was at somewhat of a transitional point with my style. I wasn’t finding jewelry that felt fun, affordable and inspiring to me, so I started making pieces for myself. While I was at Raleigh Denim, owners Sarah and Victor bought me some polymer clay (among some other creative goodies), and I started creating pieces for myself and friends. I began receiving positive feedback and inquiries asking if I was selling my jewelry. Victor and Sarah urged me to sell my pieces in the Curatory, the retail shop at Raleigh Denim—and things grew from there.
Inspo: Color—hands down. Unlikely color combinations are like sweet surprises for your eyes and mind. You’re certain two colors won’t pair well, but then you realize they are, in fact, best friends.
DYK: I want people to love and wear my pieces every day. They don’t need a special occasion or the perfect outfit. My intent is to make jewelry that you want to wear—no fuss, no blah blah blah. I want you to feel cool, confident and connected.
Path: Growing up in Oregon in a creative family—particularly with a father who was a printmaker, painter and art professor—I have always had artistic influences in my life. While studying art history and fine arts at the University of Oregon, I took my first metalsmithing class and loved it. After graduating, I returned for a BFA in metalsmithing. I moved to Raleigh to attend NCSU’s Master of Architecture Program. Since graduating, I have had the opportunity to work as a project designer for a number of great architecture firms in the area, winning several design awards for many of the projects, but my love for metalsmithing has always been in the back of my mind. In 2009, I launched my own jewelry and metalsmithing company, Spark Metal Studio, which combines my passions for modern art, architecture and metalsmithing.
Inspo: My jewelry is inspired by my love of modern architecture, as well as the natural world around me.
Artistry: Each design begins with a drawing that I draw in a drafting program on the computer. Each design is then laser-cut out of steel, handfiled and sanded, and handcolored with epoxy resin or 18K gold-plated.
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