Q&A with Local Jeweler and Metalsmith Sharon Zimmerman
We keep Sharon Zimmerman's beautiful jewelry right by the register, and it's a rare occurrence that someone checks out without oooohing and aaaaahing over her pieces. Her earrings, necklaces, and bracelets are simple and modern and supremely covetable, so it's no wonder she's living the real life version of the Portlandia skit "She's Making Jewelry Now." Since Sharon's a local gal, we thought we'd do a Q&A with her so y'all can get to know her better.
Your jewelry is swoon-worthy. What's the inspiration behind your designs?
I draw my inspiration from so many places – architecture, nature, travel – almost anything can become fodder for my work. I often take natural and organic forms and simplify them, removing details and adding others until I end up with a piece that is abstract and modern, but retains an organic flow.
How did you get started making jewelry?
A little over 10 years ago, I was bopping from job to job without much direction or satisfaction. I had been making and assembling jewelry for years as a hobby, but had never really seen it as a way to create a business. I stumbled upon a metalsmithing class at a Midwestern Technical College, and it was love, glorious love, at first torch, saw, and hammer. I've been at it ever since.
How is your work informed by the materials you use?
Gold and silver are such delightful materials to work with – ductile, forgiving, and malleable. Their precious qualities lead me into experimentation all the time. I don't fear making a mistake because whatever I make can always be melted down and made into something else.
We hear you're eco-conscious. How does that factor into your work?
Sustainability and transparency are core values behind what I do. That means that I work with 100% recycled metals from Virginia-based Hoover and Strong. And when it comes to stones, I take it a step further. Once a stone is mined, it becomes almost impossible to tell where exactly it was sourced from, making the phrase "conflict-free" meaningless. I decided that lab-grown stones were the best way to go. Lab-grown stones are grown from a seed of the same material that creates the stone in nature, and produce fully grown crystals that are identical to their mined counterparts in color, weight, and hardness.
What other local jewelers are you inspired by right now?
Yikes! Within my circle of jewelry and metalsmithing friends there is an embarrassment of riches, so it's hard to choose just one. So here are a few:
Amanda Bassolino of Voce Keen – She works unusual materials into beautiful pieces imbued with meaning. I own a pair of her arrowhead post earrings, and I love the detail of the brass circle hanging off the ear back.
Derek of DMD Metals – I was lucky enough to attend the Revere Academy with this talented dude almost 8 years ago. I have long been a not-so-secret admirer of his creative talent and mega-skillz.
Liz Oppenheim – Amongst other jewelry and metalsmithing talents, she is the Mistress of Mitsuro and one of my go-to people whenever I have technical jewelry questions.
Sarah of Sarah Swell Jewelry – Like Derek, Sarah and I met at the Revere Academy 8 years ago. I have always loved her creative vision and talent and it has been exciting to see her work blossom.
Last one, I swear (I could go on for hours!)Kate of Kate Ellen Metals – Super creative, a go-getter, and a woman of great strength and perseverance. I love her work and her ethos and I am so glad to count her amongst my friends.
And then, there's Rebecca Overmann, Lauren Wolf, Kendra Renee, Lemonade Handmade, and Corey Egan… Lord, I need to cut myself off.
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Sharon's in the shop every Wednesday, and is able to take custom orders. Stop on by and say hello! Don't live nearby? Check out these post earrings available in our online shop.