We’ve had a great summer of makers in the Park here in Santana Row!
Following is our chat with Priscilla from PS Jewelry – our August “Market Favorite”!
What sparked your interest in making jewelry?
I have always been a do-it-yourself person, a fan of home remedies and fixing things that are broken, so when I was making my mom a present for her birthday I picked up a few basic jewelry making supplies and made her a necklace. I soon fell in love with the process of working with my hands and creating a tangible product that I could share and appreciate. I started making jewelry every night, as soon as I got home from my job as Marketing Coordinator at an Engineering Design firm. I found a sense of calm and flow working with my hands and the tiny details that are required in jewelry making- its really a kind of meditation for me. Soon I decided I would have to start selling some work because I was going broke buying and all the supplies and keeping the product for myself. I am am high fan of gemstones and gold fill- that can get pretty pricey if you aren’t selling! So my meditation soon became a small business!
We’ve been lucky to have you as Store Manager and Marketing for the past six months at Makers Market… what types of synergies did you see from having this role and running your own jewelry business?
This job and my own jewelry business have really given me an appreciation of the handmade community- the community of makers. I feel a sense of responsibility to all the other craftspeople we represent in the store and I really feel the love and soul in every piece we carry. Working at Makers Market has given me a deeper connection to the story behind every piece and every business- these people (and me) aren’t making things in pursuit of profit and money- it’s really about creating art and connecting with people and giving people a story behind every item they own, it really makes getting dressed, cooking, decorating your home, anything into a form of self expression that connects you to other people and the person that made the item that hopefully becomes a treasure to you.
What have been your biggest challenges in launching your business?
My biggest challenges have been time and money. Like I said, I don’t make jewelry to make money, but when you spend so much of your time devoted to something, it becomes a necessity to have some sort of compensation for that vast amount of time. I have always strived to use the best materials in the most affordable fashion so that I could make my art accessible to people like me who can’t pay a ton for a piece of jewelry but still value quality and handmade goods. So figuring out how to price my pieces was also a challenge at first, but I think I have started to find the balance between love of art and business.
The geodes you use in your jewelry are special, can you tell us more about them?
My geode pieces are definitely my signature and my most popular pieces- I love to make them into rings, cuff bracelets, necklaces and earrings all depending on what size they are. I use Tabasco Geodes in my jewelry, they are the smallest type of geode formation in the world, from Zacatecas, Mexico. Most of the geodes have a small rind of agate with tiny quartz or calcite crystals in the center. The geodes develop within bubbles of volcanic rock. Minerals get trapped within cavities deposited through steam and with each deposit, the various minerals harden and form around a seed rock, typically limestone. Crystal development will vary based on the rate and duration of moisture deposits. If water was deposited slowly and with very few impurities, the geode crust will be finely lined with crystal, but if moisture deposits were rapidly made, the cavity will develop with bands of quartz, usually as banded agate.I love that the geodes look like plain rocks on the outside, but then the insides all look different and contain this beautiful crystallization. The inside of the geode differs based on the different minerals that seep in as they are forming. I love the science behind it, I am constantly in awe of the natural beauty the earth creates.
You are clearly very committed to the independent Maker Movement… can you tell us why?
I love the idea of supporting individual makers that love their craft rather than contributing to the mechanized, impersonal fast fashion that has become so trendy. There is value in owning less things but making sure those things are valuable to you and will last. There is just something heartwarming about buying from another maker that I don’t get when I buy from chain stores. I find myself thinking about the items rather than throwing them in the back of my closet. I also love the independent part, I have always been pretty strong willed and I think being an entrepreneur and independent business person really fits my personality.
Many people who come into the store ask about gold fill vs. gold plating, can you educate us a bit?
I love this question! We get this question in the store daily- because most people don’t realize that there is a distinction between gold plating and gold fill. Gold-filled jewelry is an actual layer of gold-pressure bonded to another metal (usually brass). Gold filled is not to be confused with gold plating as filled literally has 100% more gold than gold plating. Gold filled is much more valuable and tarnish resistant. Gold-filled pieces are required to have at least 1/20th of the weight of the entire piece composed of solid gold, while gold-plated pieces can have gold that only makes up a very tiny percentage. Gold plating is essentially just dipping a base metal in gold, while in gold fill, a gold alloy is bonded to one or both surfaces of the brass core with heat and pressure, making it much more durable.
Gold filled jewelry that is properly cared for can maintain its gold shine for years, and possibly even a lifetime. Gold filled jewelry is easy to care for, just soak briefly (less than a minute) in warm water and a mild soap-based detergent to clean the jewelry on occasion. Regular cleaning will remove any buildup of oils that will cause the pieces to tarnish. People also always ask me, can I shower with this on, can I swim with this on, do I have to take this jewelry off? My answer is, unless you are buying a solid gold piece (which is very expensive because of its durability) you should take your jewelry off when you remember to if you don’t want it to tarnish.
You have some great California State-shaped necklaces. How do you make these?
I do a lot of hand stamped pieces, I use this process to make my California rings and necklaces! Stamping is a great way to add a subtle detail to pieces of metal. I love using the outline of the state of California in my designs because I am a california girl all the way, I was born and raised in the Bay Area and then went to Southern California for college, before returning to the Bay. I am definitely one of those people who thinks California is the best and most beautiful state
What is one of your most memorable sales?
i have a few! One of my most memorable sales was at one of our markets just last month! Two little sisters came up to my table with their mom and they had their allowance to spend, but it was a very little amount. The piece they wanted was more expensive than they could afford, but they were so sweet and polite that I told them I could make something similar with a slightly less expensive chain if they just waited a minute. they were so happy when I put the necklace on, that it really made me feel special. They experienced the joy and connection of purchasing handmade pieces at a young age and I was able to be a part of that.
Another memorable sale was one to a friend of mine’s boyfriend. He had never met me but he knew that she liked my jewelry and so we working together to make a custom piece for her that was different than anything I had ever made! He wanted something that would complement her blue eyes, so I picked out a beautiful topaz stone and put it on a gold filled chain. It’s special to be able to help someone create something and tailor it to their taste.
What do you enjoy in your free time?
When I am not working in the store or making jewelry (which isn’t very often!), I love spending time with my pug Guinness, my boyfriend, and my family! We love to try different restaurants, eating is one of our favorite pastimes. I really enjoy spending time with loved ones around a table, having a drink or two and laughing and having a good time.
I also love to stay active- I was always an athlete so some sort of physical activity is very important to my sanity and well being! I love going to the gym, blasting music and just losing myself in the movements of my body. Hiking is another favorite activity, being in nature is very soothing and necessary every once in a while.