Lynda Rasco and Bill Rudd debuted their handcrafted gold and silver line, Harvest Gold Jewelry, in 1985. But after a decade of making the collection—and wholesaling to major department stores—they decided to create a space to highlight not only their craft-driven pieces but also the work of other artists. In 1996, they opened Harvest Gold Gallery—a retail destination that doubles as a sprawling showcase for modern American artistry—in Center Lovell, Maine. “People may not be buying jewelry today, but they’ll remember us the next time they want jewelry,” Rasco says. “Having a mix of things is a way to get them in the door.” The store, which spans seven rooms, features some 200 artists, ranging from internationally celebrated painters to award-winning wood-carvers.
Why do you think selling your jewelry in a gallery environment has worked so well?
Rasco: People aren’t intimidated by the fine jewelry because there are other things to buy. Our success has been about being diverse. We sell bookmarks for $5 and paintings for $15,000.
What’s the breakdown in sales?
Rasco: It’s about 50–50, jewelry and other art. In the summertime we sell art more; in the winter we do more jewelry and lots of custom pieces.
How did you first acquaint yourself with the art world?
Rudd: Fifteen years ago, we started with the paintings. We met lots of people doing the American Made Show [formerly Buyers Market of American Craft]. We attended that show for 20 years straight, and there are tons of artists there. When we decided to do the gallery, there were plenty of people to call on.
What are your jewelry designs known for?
Rasco: The bracelets—flexible gold cuffs—are kind of a signature thing. We also use a lot of Maine tourmaline. We actually have a very large collection of Maine gems, everything from tourmaline and amethyst to topaz and garnet.
Who are some of your most in-demand visual artists?
Rasco: We have a wonderful sculptor, Craig Riches, who does these amazing kinetic outdoor sculptures. Cricket Forge and Donald Drumm, who do all the butterflies inside the Bellagio in Las Vegas, do really well for us too.
What’s behind the decision to carry only your own jewelry?
Rasco: It’s too confusing to have other lines—we tried it. [Customers] walk in and say, “Did you make that?” We want to be able to say, “Yes, yes we did.”
Photograph by Sean Alonzo Harris
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