Meet Katie DuVal Mihelich: The 2022 March Bridal Madness Champion
Get to know this year's winner and the inspiration behind her winning design.
The 2022 winner of our annual March Bridal Madness contest is Katie Mihelich, fine jewelry designer, maker, and owner of Katie DuVal Jewelry in Ames, Iowa.
I had the honor of speaking with Katie and asking her some questions about her design journey, as well as her personal life! Learn more about Katie and her winning March Bridal Madness design below.
Congratulations, Katie, on being crowned our 2022 March Bridal Madness champion! Before we get into the design, tell us a little bit about yourself!
I am an outdoor loving, motorcycle riding jeweler who lives in Ames, Iowa with my husband Douglas, our black lab/spaniel Jasmine, and our calico cat Opal. I love working with metal because using fire, hammers, and other cool tools to manipulate materials and create beautiful objects is empowering. I graduated from Iowa State University in 2018 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in studio arts. I am currently in graduate school to get my Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in visual arts with an emphasis in jewelry and metalsmithing.
How did you get into the jewelry industry?
During my sophomore year of college, I took my first jewelry/metalsmithing course, and it clicked for me. I knew that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. After graduation I worked at a custom jewelry store for two years in Des Moines, Iowa, called Elements Ltd. I studied under three wonderful master women jewelers who took me under their wings and showed me the ropes of what it takes to run your own business. When they retired, I decided it was time to set out on my own, and that is how Katie DuVal Jewelry was born! During the past couple of years, I have also discovered that I love teaching and interacting with others in the field. I decided to go back to school and get my MFA. This May, I am finishing my first year and I have two more years to go. I am excited to graduate and be able to devote more of my time to creating custom jewelry.
What is the story behind the winning design?
I created this wedding set for some very dear friends of mine, Kaleb and Maggie. I grew up with Kaleb and he is like a little brother to me. When he came to me and wanted something special and custom for Maggie, I was overjoyed! There is no better feeling than getting to be a small part of the start of your friends’ life together.
Did you have any inspiration for the design?
Kaleb and Maggie are both outdoorsy and love nature and exploring it together, and they wanted the ring to reflect that part of their life. They knew that they wanted the band of the engagement ring to be an infinity style and rose gold. The floral inspired setting reflects the natural aspect they were looking for, and, of course, we had to make sure it had lots of sparkle! I added a matching wedding band with melees to compliment the shape of the engagement ring.
What was the design process of this ring?
Making custom engagement rings is my favorite! It’s always fun when the person receiving the ring wants to be involved in the designing process. Maggie expressed details that were important to her, and I took all that information and created something unique just for them. They gave me their guidelines, and I got to have fun with it!
Outside of work, what are some of your interests or hobbies?
Right now, school takes up most of my time. When I’m not working on class projects, I like to create one-of-a-kind pieces in my home studio. I enjoy reading, gardening, thrifting, camping, taking Jasmine for walks, riding my Honda Rebel motorcycle, and completing home improvement projects with my husband.
Take a look back and get to know our 2021 March Bridal Madness winner.
Nichole holds a degree in Communication from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Her years as a television news producer made it an easy transition to the fast-paced and engaging worlds of public relations and social media.