9 indie designers to inspire you

One of the reasons the jewelry industry is so competitive is that the barriers to entry are low. You don’t need a big manufacturing facility or expensive machinery. Most jewelry designers start their business at home in a spare bedroom or in a small studio space. That means there is a LOT of competition – as an indie jewelry designer, you’re competing with thousands of talented designers as well as big brands.

So, how do you stand out? To get noticed, you need to differentiate and create a story around your business. Think about these questions: Why do you do what you do? What inspires you and your designs? What are the core materials you use? Are you designing for a specific type of customer?

The answers to these questions will hep you focus on your business and use them as talking points with customers, in your online copy, to bloggers and to journalists as your pitch your brand.

Here are some designers I’ve come across who have some fabulous designs and have built a jewelry brand for themselves. I only have a short snippet about each of them below, but check out their sites, find inspiration from them and continue to drive your business forward.

Reed and his team work out of a Colorado studio to create high-end artisanal pieces from recycled materials and sustainably sourced diamonds. Reed’s is known for highlighting the strong juxtaposition and relationship between stones and metals, and often leaves diamonds rough. His work reminds wearers of the earth each time they put it on, because Reed finds a strong sense of inspiration from the planet. He aims to reuse and recycle as many aspects of the process as possible, including the byproducts of diamond cutting.

Former banker turned goldsmith Jessica Winzelberg’s California-inspired creations keep things bright and beautiful. Her colorful work focuses on highlighting delicate natural stones like boulder opals, and she creates her pieces with innovative ceramic-based enamel that is less inclined to chip.

Each of Verameat’s quirky pieces are inspired by “a self-sufficient life form with a sculptural presence.” In the world of Verameat, this means bucking traditional trends by creating unique (and delicate) interpretations of features like bones, beating hearts, birds, and snakes.

Founder Vera Balyura is experienced in woodworking, and that shows in her creations. Verameat has a strong focus on reducing waste, and uses a recycle caster for silver jewelry in its Manhattan store.

Known in its earlier years as Layered + Long, this Pacific Northwest business specializes in delicate pieces that make the world a better place. GLDN’s most impressive innovation starts outside of the studio—the company donates 10% of its profits to the greater good, and chooses a new cause to fund every two months. All of GLDN’s pieces are made in-house, and its employees are known for their belief in the concept of a positive energy transfer that carries between the jeweler and the customer.

This Los Angeles-based designer focuses on jewelry that not only looks gorgeous, but fits into the lifestyle of the woman who wears it. Meyer’s pieces stand out for the emotion behind them, and how that resonates with customers—she got her start creating jewelry to mark important milestones in her life. Now, she encourages her customers to choose pieces that symbolize special moments in their own lives.

A Brooklyn fixture since 2004, Catbird started small and grew to be a wildly successful business that adored by New York City locals and visitors alike. In addition to its own line, the brand works with a handful of talented jewelry designers, and uses only conflict-free stones and fair-trade or recycled gold. The store is known for pioneering the stacking ring trend, and also brought first-knuckle rings onto the scene. Catbird’s trademark delicate pieces are small, light, and always trend-setting.

Designer Kathryn Bentley’s fans flock to her Los Angeles boutique for top-notch jewelry that’s, well, dreamy. Bentley brings a layer of spirituality to nearly everything she creates. Her hallmark collection of mood stone rings and necklaces, which feature these 2 sides ancient Greek coins are elegant and have such an organic look & feel to them.

Founder Diana Kauffman started her business with a men’s line and based her designs on what she thought her husband would wear. Her current collection includes a women’s line too and focuses on statement pieces that are suitable for everyday wear. Using quality, natural materials such as Italian leather and Portugese cork, her collection is made from durable materials in bold, on-trend colors.

This husband-wife duo of metalsmith’s are based in Raleigh, North Carolina. With Sonya’s delicate designs and Jackey’s bold geometric designs, you’ll find two distinct styles of jewelry here. They’ve come a long way over the years from starting the business in their apartment to selling on Etsy and growing further to be available in several stores across the US. They also offer jewelry making workshops teaching metalsmithing techniques.

In closing…

There are so many talented jewelry designers out there. The above are only the tip of the iceberg. If you’re feeling inspired, consider taking a cue from the artists above and bring your unique touch to your brand. The sky’s the limit!

Please comment with jewelry designers who inspire you and why.

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