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Jewelspan Artisans Specialize in Commissioned Jewelry

A selection of custom-designed jewelry from Jewelspan artisans

At times, a piece of jewelry becomes more than an ornament. It becomes a symbol of love or longevity; it becomes a reminder of an important event, or testament to the strength of connection. With enduring shapes and materials and craftsmanship, a piece of jewelry can be something solid and beautiful in a changing world. This is all the more true when the piece is custom-designed, when it is created with a specific person and event in mind.  The purchaser works with a craftsman to forge something completely unique based on their taste, their affections, and the events of their life. 

Of course, few pieces of jewelry hold the symbolic power of a wedding band, particularly if that band is made with a particular couple in mind, and reflects qualities in their unique relationship.  Linda Searcy’s future son-in-law commissioned an engagement ring and wedding bands that would express the joining of their families and their future together.  Searcy used rubies, because they’re her daughter’s birthstone, and she re-purposed diamonds from one of her mother’s diamond wedding bands, to create rings that celebrate memory of the past and hope for the future.

Sometimes the commission extends beyond the bride’s jewelry to encompass the entire wedding party. Diane Port of Shoreline Gems has made jewelry for five weddings, and she matches the design to the style of the bride’s dress. In one instance, she matched the design to the bridesmaid’s dresses as well. “I have a friend in England whose daughter was getting married. I was asked to do the jewelry for the bridesmaids and also the mother-to-be. The bridesmaid dresses were a mint green. I had gotten a swatch of fabric so that I could match the stones in the necklace to the dresses. The stones were a mint green color, Prehnite with fresh water pearls and earrings.” The jewelry became an enduring symbol of the day, and of the bond that all of the friends honored by being part of it.

Chris Anderson is a jewelry designer living on the last islands in the Caribbean archipelago Trinidad and Tobago. He had the honor of creating a custom piece for Peng Liyuan, the first lady of China. He and his wife run a small Jewelry shop from their home outside the capital, Port of Spain. He does custom work in silver, but his pieces in copper and brass are sold in local gift shops, and are purchased from time to time by ministries of government for gifts. “On this occasion I was contacted by the aide de camp of the president who asked for me to submit a design for consideration. I showed my sketch to close aids of the president and met him as well. The design of the Heliconia flower and humming bird was not immediately well-received, as the main material of argentium silver was imported. They did eventually call back and I suggested that I add the local mahogany wood in the design. It was made in two days and was well received. The first lady was reportedly pleased as well.”

Suzanne Reuben believes that jewelry “is a particularly personal form of adornment, and that there is special pleasure in owning and wearing a unique work of wearable art.” She describes one memorable occasion of working with a client to make a multistrand turquoise necklace as a gift for the purchaser’s wife. “The owner of a local gallery that carries my work called to say that a customer had come in hoping to find an artist who could create a special necklace for his wife…I felt the piece should be visually complex and both casual and elegant. In addition to turquoise rounds and nuggets of different sizes, shapes, and colors, I added baroque and stick pearls, clear and etched quartz, faceted hematite rondells, and sterling round, saucer, and freeform beads. A
couple of weeks after the necklace was delivered to the customer, he returned to the gallery to tell the owner how thrilled his wife was with the piece. The gallery owner was happy, and so was I!”

Sometimes a commissioned piece takes on extra significance as the job progresses. Connections are discovered between people and materials that add extra dimensions of symbolism to the work. AnnaMariah of Bold Bodacious Jewelry, discovered that the stones she had chosen resonated in the character of the person who commissioned the piece. “I met Twila at a women’s event where we bonded due to my temporary need for a wheel chair due to a recent knee injury. She fell in love with a
Seraphinite necklace I had, but wanted one with purple to coordinate with the purple and green of her logo for AdsOnARoll, a company that sells ads for wheelchair wheels. She commissioned me to create a necklace for her in Seraphinite and “something purple.” 

AnnaMariah made a pendant of seraphinite and purple jade. She secured it with wire, and as she worked she understood the connection between the wires and the spokes of wheels. She also began to see how the characteristics of seraphinite echoed in the strength and courage of Twila, “…who is wheelchair bound due to spina bifida. She is an inspiration and advocate for people with challenges and handicaps of all kinds. She is constantly encouraging people to think beyond their limitations. When I look at the properties of seraphinite I am doubly struck by how well they mirror who Twila is and what she shares with the world - Seraphinite encourages living and connecting from your heart; releases old patterns of disease or imbalance, creating space for new patterns of well-being to form.” The necklace became a reminder and almost a talisman, a tribute to the healing power of hope.

Cynthia Woodward’s commissioned pieces are as unique and unusual as the people for whom they are created. Justin’s Bracelet plays on the form of a nearly heart-shaped piece of modavite. The cuff, of sterling silver and copper is strong and graceful and surprising.  Nick’s Ring is stamped with letters of the alphabet, and Cynthia’s Cuff is sterling silver decorated with discs of brass and silver. In each piece we see the mysterious beauty of each individual person, they tell a story about the person who wears them.

Jewelry made with a certain person in mind, or made to commemorate a special occasion seems to take on a life of its own. It becomes imbued with the passion of the purchaser and the skill of the craftsman and achieves a spirit so personal, original, and unique that it can be worn with abiding pleasure for generations to come.

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