The idea to start a jewelry company came to me through the delirium of sleep deprivation during the first 6 months of my first child’s life. Which, as everyone knows, is the perfect condition to make Big Life Changes. I had quit a PhD program about a year before and I was starved for a creative outlet. Those years in academia were intellectually stimulating, but not creatively stimulating. Usually the last nursing session of the night, as the sun was beginning to rise, was when all the ideas would start churning. I would often grab a sketchbook and quickly draw some rough ideas out after my daughter was back asleep.
To begin with I wanted to make body jewelry. I have had stretched ears ever since high school (yes, from my mall goth days), and I wanted to make jewelry for my lobes that looked more “adult”. I had dreamed about jewelry that would accept something dangly, that looked like a regular earring, at my wedding a couple years prior. Because the options at the time were not exactly what you’d call elegant. So I tried to find a way to get medical grade steel jewelry made that wasn’t astronomically expensive. It was pretty much a failure.
But I was determined not to give up on metal jewelry. I wanted to pivot to doing regular (non-piercing) jewelry, so I signed up for a metalsmithing class. At the time I was working at a local bead shop doing repairs, so I was still making jewelry! But I wanted to make jewelry with faceted stones. The kind that my Mom loved. The kind I would admire in her jewelry box as a child. About three weeks into my metalsmithing class I realized I’d never be a skilled metalsmith, which was pretty much what I expected to learn.
Now before you get all “don’t be such a negative nancy” on me. Let’s back up a second. I have a birth defect on my right arm that severely limits the use of my right hand. I can use it for basic tasks, but very fine motor skills I have to pretty much perform one handed. My left hand is the talented, powerful superhero, and my right hand is the less powerful, and less talented underdog performing supportive tasks. They work well as a seamless team for most things, but certain things are my kryptonite. Like playing the guitar, or braiding my own hair, or as it turns out: making metal jewelry by hand. I have to be realistic about what is worth sinking more than average time and energy into learning, because I’ll have to learn it much differently than everyone else. Was it worth it to spend 2-3 times as long to learn to do metalsmithing at an average level? Not to me, but everyone has their own mental calculus when it comes to these things.
I am just fine at using a computer though. So it seemed like the only other option was to learn CAD. That is something you don’t need two hands to do well. Unless you’re that person that uses a bunch of keyboard shortcuts. I’ll never be a keyboard shortcut whiz.
I signed up to take the newly created CAD/CAM course at the Gemological Institute of America and I’m so happy I did. CAD is what has allowed me to realize my own designs. It’s allowed me to create jewelry that speaks to my inner goth girl, even though my style has evolved. It’s allowed me to decorate my stretched ears in a way that feels grown up and sophisticated. I also love designing jewelry that everyone can wear that makes them feel like a confident queen.