Tucson, Ariz.–based jewelry designer Erik Stewart of Erik Stewart jewelry is a pro when it comes to making sleek, minimalist rings. But he’s less at ease making earrings, necklaces, and, most of all, bracelets—until recently.
“My line is heavy on rings because I wanted to get my brand concept established in that category first,” he explains. “Rings have tolerances and restrictions and so many limitations that I thought if I could get that concept right, I could do almost anything.”
Now, seven years after launching his eponymous line, he’s pushing himself farther outside of his comfort zone. One step in that direction was making his first bracelet—specifically for the 2012 Saul Bell Design Awards, organized by Rio Grande in Albuquerque, N.M.
His one-of-a-kind palladium, 18k gold, and stainless steel wire cuff bracelet has 28 cts. t.w. amethyst, peridot, blue moonstone, blue topaz, citrine, pink tourmaline, and a $24,000 price tag. It took two months to plan out the style—it’s inspired by the Brooklyn Bridge—and two weeks to make.
“I never made a bracelet before, so I pushed myself and my skills in how I put it together,” he says. And in that contest, which recognizes jewelry-making skills and execution of design, Stewart took second place in the Gold/Platinum category.
At first glance, I thought that the gemstones and the cables were captured in resin, but Stewart assures me they are not. “You can stick your fingers between the cables, almost like strumming a guitar, and there’s negative space beneath the wires,” he explains. The base of the cuff itself, meanwhile, is formed in an anticlastic manner, with a palladium spine that is highly polished on the interior and brushed on the underside (touching the skin), with 18k yellow gold accents on cuff ends, interior walls that compartmentalize interior space, and on the bezel-set gemstones. “The stones are set as pedestal saucers so they each have a unique height from one another and are somewhat floating in the sections,” Stewart adds.
And like many artists, Stewart learned through the design process that simpler is better, and minimized the metal weight for overall aesthetics, wearability, and long-term strength.
One-of-a-kind palladium, 18k gold, and stainless steel wire cuff bracelet with 28 cts. t.w. amethyst, peridot, blue moonstone, blue topaz, citrine, and pink tourmaline; $24,000