In celebration of launching our latest edition of Findings and Metals 2021-2022, we held the Change Up Challenge: Finding Inspiration Edition. This was an opportunity for jewelers to show us the stunning and creative pieces they have created using Stuller findings.
The winner of the Change Up Challenge this year is Elysha Roberts with Elysha Joy Metals in Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts.
I got the chance to speak with Elysha and ask her some questions about her journey as a jewelry artisan as well as her personal life. Learn more about Elysha and her winning design below!
Congratulations, Elysha, on being named the Change Up Challenge Champion! Before we talk about the beautiful ring you made, tell me a little about yourself.
I was born and raised on Martha’s Vineyard, a small island off the coast of Massachusetts. I have always had a love for art and nature and growing up near the ocean gave me an endless amount of inspiration. I knew that I wanted to pursue art early on and attended The Massachusetts College of Art and Design where I received a Bachelors of Fine with a concentration in Jewelry and Metals. After my studies at The Massachusetts College of Art, I was accepted as a resident artist in the School for American Crafts at the Rochester Institute of Technology. During this program, I focused on metalsmithing while incorporating organic materials like handmade paper and found objects. The visual language of pods, cells, and other growth patterns became common themes I continue to reference. I maintain a studio practice steeped both in traditional metalsmithing alongside a sculptural approach to wearable art. By taking these ideas out of their normal context, I invite the viewer or the adorned to appreciate the natural beauty around us.
Photos by Joe Mikos and Maggie Shannon
That’s incredibly interesting! How did you get your start in the jewelry industry?
I got into the jewelry industry working as a bench jeweler for various jewelers and artists over the years but really focused on honing my traditional metalsmithing skills working as a goldsmith for CBstark Jewelers, a full-service jewelry store in my hometown. I have always had an appreciation for quality craftsmanship and attention to detail so learning, repairing, and creating custom work for a company with over 50 years in the industry really helped me develop my skills as a fine jeweler and made me want to create heirloom pieces, like engagement rings. I had a few friends reach out to me wanting custom engagement and various other custom pieces and this part of my studio practice has continued to grow over the last few years.
Sounds like you’ve had some amazing opportunities to do great work. Let’s dive into your winning design! Tell me the story behind this ring.
This ring was a very special project for me personally because it was designed for my lifelong friend. The design process flowed easily because I knew her so well, I was able to generate pages of sketches based on a few ring styles I knew she had liked. This gave us the opportunity to pick and choose elements from a number of options and combine them into the perfect final design. Her partner wanted the symbolism of the sun and moon, so I incorporated elements that represented the phases of the moon and sun rays. We wanted an alternative gemstone for the center, something durable but colorful. She is a fine art painter so adding color was an important design element! We went with a beautiful Ceylon Star Sapphire cabochon, which fit perfectly with our celestial theme. Lastly, I incorporated 3 small diamonds. Three is a divine number, the first to which the meaning “all” was given and used here to represent themes of time and of life: past, present, future; birth, life, death; body, mind, spirit, beginning, middle, end.
Wow! There is so much meaning in this ring and it really shows in the design. Can you tell me about the design process of the ring?
The process of creating this ring was tricky, there were a lot of small components and the majority of it was entirely hand fabricated from sheet metal. The center stone was an odd cut but I was able to modify a heavy oval bezel setting from Stuller and used their platinum bezels for the diamonds to make my life a little easier. Once I had those parts assembled the last components to solder were the small celestial motifs and finish with the stone setting. The diamonds were tricky to set so I modified some broken burs to fit perfectly in hard-to-reach areas.
That’s so creative and I’m sure your friend loves the ring. Before we wrap up, tell me a little about your life outside of work.
Outside of work I really enjoy being outdoors, I love to garden and take care of plants. I like to walk and observe nature slowly and collect things of interest from the beaches and the woods. I also love a good bike ride to pick up the pace. I do yoga to help keep my body in a good state for bench work. I also like getting cozy and listening to music and sketching or watching some good sci-fi and fantasy; the creativity of others can be a wonderful source of inspiration as well!
Thank you so much for sharing your story with us, Elysha! Congratulations again on your winning design. We at Stuller are so happy to see the beautiful piece you’ve created with our findings and can’t wait to see what else you create! Make sure to follow along on Elysha’s journey by following her on Instagram and visiting her website at www.elyshajoymetals.com.
We’d like to thank everyone who participated in the Change Up Challenge: Finding Inspiration Edition. You inspire us constantly. Let’s also give a shoutout to our second place winner Elizabeth with Exodus Goldsmiths (@ExodusGoldsmiths) and our third place winner Tammy with On U Designs (@On_U_Designs).