Feature Friday – Chelsea Swank
In honor of Halloween, we’re featuring Chelsea Swank this week – a jeweler with an eclectic style and eerie designs.
Meet Chelsea Swank
I am a second-generation jeweler from Portland, Oregon. I’d describe my design aesthetic as Gothic Bohemian with celestial tendencies. Our inventory, available on our Etsy shop, is perfect for those who like celebrating Halloween year-round.
My father, Gary Swank, has owned a jewelry store my entire life. SO in some ways, it was natural for me to join the family business. However, that was not my original plan. I went off to college and majored in Criminal Justice hoping to become a police officer after graduation. Then, one year for my birthday, my gift was to design a piece of jewelry for myself. So I joined my father at the shop to work on a CAD design. I ended up creating a beautiful pair of opal earrings with sunrays. That project turned my interest to designing and making jewelry. It progressed from there, and we opened an Etsy shop that has been quite successful.
Here’s the Process
I draw inspiration from nature, pop culture, and varying colors, shapes, and patterns. I notice that ideas seem to marinate and I’ll start thinking about a design idea in growing detail until I am compelled to do the CAD so I can finally stop thinking about it.
In fact, these days I spend quite a bit of time contemplating a design before I sit down to take on the CAD drawing. An idea can take weeks to fully materialize, but the design time ranges from one hour to many. From there, we mill the design in wax on our CNC mill, then we cast it using the lost wax method. So once I complete the design, the milling and casting process takes two days. Finishing and setting can take another day or two, assuming we are just working on that piece (which is almost never the case).
My favorite materials to work with are sterling silver, fourteen-karat rose, yellow, and Palladium white gold. I also lean toward darker-colored stones like onyx, black diamonds, and black spinel – pretty much anything black. And I love rose cut gems of any variety. Garnets and amethyst are two more of my favorite stones!
Second-generation Swank jeweler
I learned about Stuller from my dad, who has used them since the very beginning. I know I can call on Stuller as a reliable resource for tools, gems, moissanite, or anything else we need. Our partnership helps us to achieve my ultimate goal: to leave behind a legacy of high quality, original jewelry true to the Swank name.
To reach my target audience, I use Instagram, which is a great resource for many reasons. It enables people to get a sense of me as an artist and connects viewers to my work. The videos and extra photos showcase my jewelry in ways that may not be available in an online store. And of course, clients can show off their jewelry purchases and feel a part of a community with other clients. The platform also serves as a sort of a review system where you can gain credibility because people considering a purchase can see all your happy clients.
As someone who has been working in this industry for a while and as someone who comes from a family where jewelry plays such a big role, I encourage anyone aspiring to enter the industry to keep pushing ahead, try new things, and dare to be different. Embrace the stalls and slow times; those are the best opportunities to learn new skills and experiment with new ideas.
How do you celebrate Halloween with your customers? Leave us a comment below to tell us how you incorporate Halloween into your business!