N ell Henry owns a gorgeous picture postcard, award winning shop in snowy Idaho in the USA. She is a professionally trained Jewellery Designer, who works with ethically mined gemstones.
How did you get started in the jewellery business?
I fell in love with jewelry. As a child I was more interested in playing sports, than playing dress up. I was always interested in art, I wasn’t particularly interested in jewelry or fashion.
My uncle came from a mining family. After talking to him about mining, my sister and I thought we would enjoy looking for gemstones. We drove to a small sapphire mine in Montana which was a few hours away. I fell in love with the process of digging in the dirt looking for stones. It was a bit like treasure hunting, it was thrilling, and I felt a feeling of awe.
Before I found my first sapphire I imagined raw sapphires were ugly. Then in the sludge, I saw this beautiful blue orb, like a small piece of the sky shining in the sun. It struck me both by its raw beauty and by its age. In the palm of my hand, was this little piece of the earth. It had been hiding for thousands, maybe even millions of years. It wasn’t round or clear or that royal blue you think of when you think of sapphires, it was stunning just the way it was. I was years away from beginning my journey into jewelry. At that time, I had no idea that’s where I was heading, but that’s the moment where it began.
Is there a message you try to get across with your work, or with the work you showcase in your shop?
Because of that moment in a mine in Montana when I first held a sapphire in my palm, I use a mixture of raw and faceted stones in my personal line of jewelry. We tend to think that perfection is beautiful, and it can be, but there’s something about raw beauty that “perfection” can never achieve. Our imperfections make us unique, beautiful, and human and I utilize raw stones in my line to emulate that belief.
“My favorite metal to work with is gold. Partly because of it’s history, as it has been used in jewelry since 4000BC, but also it’s versatility.
It is both strong and malleable and can produce a variety of different colours by adding alloys.”
Tell me about the award that your shop won earlier this year?
We opened our shop “Solder & Stone” in August of 2018 in a a charming 1920’s house, which we converted into a jewellery store. Every year our town, Coeur d’Alene has a “Best Of” competition, where townspeople vote on their favourite places to eat, shop etc. This is our inaugural year and we were competing against stores that have been around for 60 years or more.
We have been overwhelmed by the support we received from the community. Despite being so new, we have been awarded an Honorable Mention. This is because we work hard to ensure our customers love their pieces. We feature ethically mined jewellery, which means customers leave our store, with a piece they can feel good about both aesthetically and ethically.
Is there something you can’t live without in your studio or shop?
Yes, my partner! He and I opened the store together and I couldn’t do it without his support. The sculptor and artist, Henri Matisse said “Creativity takes courage”. My partner helps me manufacture courage when I’m feeling unsure. Whether it be the stresses that come with opening a new business, or the difficulties of bringing my vision for a piece, to life, he helps me.
What is your bench hack?
“My Bench Hack is reusing dull burrs, to create unique surfaces and textures. I do this because I love texture. I like to file burrs, creating high points and low points in various patterns.”
“This means I can achieve one-of-a-kind textures to add dimension and visual interest to a piece.”
Who are your biggest influences?
First and most important, my mother, who was an amazing painter and artist. She taught me that women are strong and capable. She was diagnosed with stage 4+ cancer when I was 12. Despite being told she’d only live a few weeks, she lived for another eight years.
She was my mom, but she played that role for a lot of people. She made a difference in the lives of others, the kind of person that I strive to be. Plus, I likely inherited my artistic eye from her!
I am also lucky enough to have two sisters, five aunts, and a grandmother who love and support me, all of whom are strong women who’ve done such amazing things, and each one inspires me in their own way.
What is your superpower?
My superpower is to see a story in every stone. The design process begins with the stone. I create an aesthetic that best highlights that particular stone’s unique qualities.
Special thanks to my Patrons for supporting me! Shout out this month to Nell Henry and Lee Ann Aylward.
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