SCDC: What is a quote you live by?
EM: Okay, it’s a little cheesy…. but I really believe it! I live by the quote “Everything happens for a reason.”
SCDC: How many years have you been in business?
EM: I had been making jewelry for many years before creating a business was even a thought in my mind. Shifting from a hobbyist to a business owner happened naturally. I would create for fun and make pieces for friends. As more people became interested I began to assign prices to my work and with the help of social media, my passion transformed itself into a business. This June will mark my first year of being an official DC business owner.
SCDC: Did you have any formal training in jewelry design and creation? How did you come to realize your talent?
EM: I was super lucky to attend a public high school in New Hampshire that had silversmithing classes. I also had a phenomenal jewelry teacher that passed down years of experience and knowledge to me. Before taking this class I never thought of myself as artistic. I took all kinds of art classes until I found this medium, the fabrication of 3-dimensional objects really clicked with my brain.
After high school, I took a break in jewelry making to study Art History at Catholic University. I always knew I would get back to silversmithing and so I used this education to build a visual vocabulary that I could later use as inspiration for my own artwork. After graduating I got right back to making jewelry and have continued to improve my skill and knowledge at Jewelry Class DC with Goldsmith Daniel Valencia.
SCDC: What was the first piece of jewelry you ever made? How have your designs evolved?
EM: The first pieces of jewelry I made were a variety of rings and bracelets, each designed to teach a new and specific skill. It wasn’t until the last assignment of the semester where we had the freedom to create a design of our own that I found my love for the craft. I made a chunky industrial bracelet and for the first time, I felt the amazing high of translating my own design to a physical piece of jewelry. Since this first project my skills have undoubtedly improved but my chunky industrial aesthetic has stayed pretty consistent.
SCDC: What challenges have you met along the way?
EM: I think that one of my greatest challenges is finding a cozy space between being an artist and being a successful business owner. Jewelry is my only artistic medium and my true passion so I feel that I have to be very protective of preserving the joy it gives me. I meet these challenges by taking time away from filling orders to make a new piece, taking little “sabbaticals” to explore new ideas and inspiration, and by constantly re-examining my business in search of new ways to improve this balance of being a creative and a human that has to pay bills.
SCDC: How do you go about creating a new piece? We’d love to know about your design process—choosing materials, design development, etc.
EM: I only use sterling silver and 14k gold in my work. I’m constantly on the hunt for beautiful stones. I go to many stone shows, research online, work with gemologists in NYC & New Hampshire and also source on my travels. You might say I’m a bit of a hoarder but I love having a huge stock of stones ready for any wave of inspiration.
Rather than sketch out ideas I typically start by selecting a stone, I lay it out on my desk and move pieces of metal around it to find my design. I feel this is more effective for planning three-dimensional work. I don’t spend too much time in this process, I usually play around until I have a general idea of how I want to move forward. I leave it a bit open ended so my design can organically evolve through the silversmithing process. I’m a big proponent for not believing in mistakes and having confidence that the process will take me to where I need to be.
SCDC: What are some of your favorite pieces?
EM: The Triple Pearl Ring is one of my very favorites. This piece floats freshwater pearls set in sterling silver between fingers in the likeness of a brass knuckle. It’s for sure my best seller and I think it perfectly captures feminine strength and beauty, a major influence throughout all of my work.
I also love the Polygon Club Ring. This piece was designed for a contest where contestants receive an abnormal polygon shaped stone and had to create a piece of jewelry around it. This contest granted me to the opportunity to step away from being a business owner and fully embrace being an artist without the worry or limitations of budgeting time or money.
SCDC: What is next for Emma Marty? Also, where can our readers find you?
EM: SPRING/SUMMER 2017 line just launched along with a new site! I’ve been working at this for a while so I’m thrilled it’s finally up! Right now my work can only be found online but I’m in the works of joining a couple DC shops this summer, so stay tuned!
SCDC: What is the first thing that comes to mind about Washington, D.C.? Also, do you plan to hold an event here?
EM: So many things come to mind when I think of DC: art, fashion, food, education, and community. DC is so rich in culture, it’s a super inspiring place to make home and amazingly supportive city to live the dream of being a small business owner.
I have a couple pop up events in the works right now, readers can subscribe to my monthly newsletter to keep up to date with Emma Marty Jewelry.