Tucson, Ariz.–based jewelry designer Erik Stewart favors fluted effects and has an arsenal of design awards on his shelf.
Jewelry designer Erik Stewart
Headquarters: Tucson, Ariz.
Year firm launched: 2010
Signature style: “Some designs are reflective of nature—like the nautilus shell—while other designs are inspired by culture. For example, my Fluted pieces are a modern inspiration of the Elizabethan collar known as the ruff, and Transit is a tribute to the Brooklyn Bridge. But all are unified by the innovative, conceptual, and dynamic aspects of my designs.”
Training, education, and design process: “I have been designing jewelry for more than 17 years but only started wholesaling in 2010. Growing up, I tagged along with my mom to her jewelry classes, and used my father’s architectural drafts as coloring books. At age 13, I designed and fabricated my first pendant, igniting my passion and career. For education, I earned my G.G. at G.I.A. in 2003, and I acquired retail experience from Niessing, and bench and design experience at Molina Fine Jewelers in Phoenix. I am also trained in CAD/CAM.
My creation process varies depending on the innovation of the design. In the case of my new Transit design, I fabricated it myself to get an understanding of the design and to learn how I can improve it in the future. But with stock pieces such as Solitaire, I’ve already streamlined the design so that it can be delegated to master jewelers, but even then the process is collaborative.
I create unique findings and components only when the design requires it; I don’t believe in reinventing the wheel. With regard to my necklaces, for instance, I use superior-quality rubber-covered steel chords produced by a German company.
I do both casting and fabrication—whichever the design calls for and is most efficient—without sacrificing the integrity of the design. All of my jewelry is made in the U.S.”
Materials of choice: “I specialize in palladium, 18k gold, and platinum, although I offer some designs in sterling silver. Since most of my designs come from a conceptual place first, this drives the materials, including stones used, to express that message. For many custom commissions I work with supplied stones and enjoy the challenge.”
Starting retail price: “Prices start at $75 in sterling, $400 in palladium, $800 in 18k gold, and $1,000 in platinum.”
Accounts: “For years my focus was custom, commissioned jewelry, so it’s only recently that I have eased into the wholesale market. The former Studio Vincent at Fashion Square in Scottsdale, Ariz., debuted my work, and Arareity in Sacramento, Calif., currently features my fashion designs. To date, I do not have any international accounts.”
Retailer buy-in: $1,500
Jewelry trade show exhibits: “I am currently scheduled to show in the Design Center at JCK Las Vegas.”
Awards: “I have earned 12 design awards since 2008, including a finalist award in the Palladium Alliance International Palladium Design Contest 2013 for my Sunflower, Elevate, and Fluted earring designs; a Saul Bell Award from Rio Grande in 2012 for my Transit design; and status as a JCK Rising Star in 2012.”