Okay, I’ll admit it. I’ve been known to stalk a jeweler or two on Instagram, and Dana Bronfman (pictured) has definitely been at the top of my crush list. I think her work is interesting and has something to say. We played a bit of phone tag, and when we finally caught up we both were laughing. Apparently Ms. Bronfman had been stalking me back! To make matters even more interesting, it turns out her roommate is an old colleague of mine from Tiffany & Co. It’s a small world and in the jewelry scene it’s even smaller. No wonder we’re such a tight-knit clan. Bronfman is extremely humble, down-to-earth, and immediately makes you feel like you’re chatting with a long-lost friend. I’m so excited to see her debut her stunning collection at JCK Tucson.
I see that sustainability is extremely important to you. Could you please tell me why, and can you talk more about the ways in which you are contributing to building an environmentally sustainable work process?
The earth is the source of all the materials in jewelry and everything we use every day. Being in nature rejuvenates me and allows me to be inspired, so it is important for me to give back to it. I took a green jewelry class during my jewelry training at the Revere Academy, which really opened my eyes to how destructive gold mining is to the environment. Many consumers are aware of the impact of diamond mining, yet gold mining is an issue that doesn’t get much talk. Knowing this, I felt a responsibility and saw an opportunity to use my jewelry as a platform to get people thinking about environmental issues.
All of my jewelry is made with reclaimed gold and silver. My diamonds are recycled whenever possible, or conflict-free when I can’t find what my design requires from post-consumer sources. I attempt to be transparent with my customers. Right now, Ethical Metalsmiths has an online silent auction, to which I donated a couple of pieces, to benefit its anti–wildlife trafficking fund. I try to take advantage of every opportunity like this one and donate to environmental nonprofits.
Hollow ring in 18k gold and black rhodium–plated sterling silver with diamonds
Philanthropy seems to drive your efforts. Why did you choose these particular charities? Why do you feel it’s important to give back?
I grew up in a philanthropic family, and I always wanted to make a difference. I worked in the nonprofit sector in arts education with at-risk youth before transitioning into jewelry. It was my dream to create jewelry, but I did not want to do it in a way that encouraged materialism, so working with these nonprofits allows me to keep a hand in philanthropy. I grew up spending my summers in the Sierra Nevada mountains, which is why I want to help the Sierra Club. Ethical Metalsmiths is fighting to help make green jewelry the norm, not the exception, and I really believe in that mission. Publicolor allows me to continue the efforts of my former work, to empower at-risk youth to improve the world through the next generation of designers.
How did you first get involved in the jewelry industry? What is the biggest thing that has surprised you on your journey?
I was always very artistic but never thought of jewelry design as a potential career path until I visited Santa Fe, N.M., during college and for the first time met people who actually made jewelry. I became so inspired when I studied abroad in Spain and found myself enamored with the interesting designs and stories behind jewelry I saw as I traveled. I surprised myself when I took a leap quitting my job and enrolled in jewelry school.
My own designs also inspired me, as they can be very minimal, although I never thought of myself as a minimalist, since I have always stacked and layered many pieces of jewelry together.
Riveted Trina necklace in 18k gold with sterling silver chain and a diamond
What is something you’d like to see change in the jewelry world? How do you feel we can all contribute to change?
I would like to see more collaboration. We can achieve this by sharing resources and our experiences.
How do you want to be remembered?
I want to be remembered for the authenticity of both my designs, which I like to describe as “quietly bold.” My pieces are delicate but edgier than a lot of what has been traditionally recognized as fine jewelry. Since I am a metalsmith, they focus on metal and form instead of stones.
Concave cutout bangle in 14k gold with diamonds
If you weren’t making jewelry what would you be doing with your life?
I can’t imagine myself doing anything but making jewelry now, but I think I would be still in the nonprofit world or teaching yoga.
What make you sign up for the JCK Tucson show? What excites you about it? Who are you curious to meet while there?
I am excited to be a part of the historic occasion of bringing the Design Center back to Tucson. I look forward to exhibiting alongside artists I greatly admire, to connect with amazing retailers, and to introduce my new diamonds collection, which I’ll be debuting at the show. I also find the energy of the Southwestern desert incredibly inspiring, and so am excited to showcase my designs in that environment.
Trina ring 18k gold with diamonds