Endless talk of all things sparkly.

2024 May Is Gold Month — Celebrating Six Different Makers

Fran barker

The connection that every maker has with each piece of karat gold jewelry that they create is incredibly special. The time, the care and the creativity – it is all there, directly poured into each gold chain, earring, bracelet, ring and pendant. Gold jewelry has several stages when coming to fruition, from the initial idea or sketch to that final polish. Designers and makers put forth their work in such a raw and unfiltered way, I think it deserves so much more attention to get to know the stories behind the pieces. Every why, who, where, and how. That is why I love doing these May Is Gold Month featured Maker interviews. These interviews give you, the buyer, a bit more insight into the pieces that are created. We specifically focus on gold as a material and learn why each designer loves working with it. We also take a look at the why aspect of gold, which beckons so many unique perspectives. As I’ve interviewed over 30 makers and asked why gold is important in their work…the variety and depth of each answer is incredibly intriguing.

I love connecting with Makers every year during May Is Gold Month. I’m excited to show and share with my audience these six makers and get their take on this precious metal we all love to celebrate each May – GOLD!

Our May Is Gold Month features have kicked off this week and every Wednesday there will be a featured maker interview posted on my Instagram account. Every maker in this feature uses karat gold within their designs and has agreed to voice their take on this special metal. Hope you enjoy!

Fran Barker

Fran Barker 3

Fran Barker 2

Fran Barker Design
How is karat gold important in your work? 

Gold is hugely important in my work! I think that if you are an artist who has taken the time over many hours, years even heartbreaks to perfect your work and you are in a place where you have your own unique style and are lucky enough to be selling it then it is important to choose a material that reflects the experience and craftsmanship that you have put into it. Gold does this for me. Gold also enhances my jewellery, it breaths fire into the gemstones I use and it helps hold the value of my pieces….. a good piece of art should hold it’s value. Another special element is it’s weight. I love creating jewellery that also feels great. It’s not always just about aesthetics. Gold has that real lustrous weight that I find so important when handling jewellery. I mainly work in 18ct and 22ct where I can. I’m a yellow gold gal and find that natural, rich, buttery resource, that is gold, a timeless material that adds real value to my work.

Why do you like working with karat gold?

I think there is something truly special in collecting up a load of gnarly bits of scrap, melting them with the torch and squeezing them through the rolling mill to form new material ready to make into whatever you choose. Throughout the whole working process gold is a joy to work with. It’s very pure and easy to form which is important, particularly, in my scalloped setting style where the gold forms over the gemstones. All the while you are working with it you reveal that warm glow the metal gives. When you’ve got to that final stage after hours of forming, sanding, polishing and stone setting, suddenly from beneath the dirt comes the magic. It’s always a feeling of pure magic when I finish a piece of gold jewellery… what is not to love about that!?

Learn more about Fran Barker Design here.


Shayna Jewelry


Lace Loop Bangle

Shayna Jewelry
How is karat gold important in your work? 

When you hold an art object like a piece of jewelry, you’ll see the marks of the artist’s hand, and in a way, you’re seeing the soul of its maker. So, if I am putting a little bit of my soul into each and every piece, I would like those pieces to be precious and gold is one of the most precious and coveted materials on earth.

I want to create jewelry that will be valued and treasured for generations to come. Both enjoyed for its beauty on the surface and also appreciated as an investment that holds its value. Gold has levels of intrinsic value. On the surface it’s warm and inviting, it can be shiny and polished or buttery satin. Humans have always been attracted to gold, it glows like the sun and makes us feel warm and special. This attraction to gold will never change, but it’s a finite resource, and so gold will always hold value, which for me makes it the perfect medium to create heirloom jewelry.

I’ve always felt the materials I use should carry a level of integrity to match the importance of a handmade piece. I make each and every piece by hand, which is a huge investment in time and energy. I think my drive to create a perfectly fabricated object comes from early influence of my grandmother. She instilled in me a deep reverence for objects intricately made by hand. She was a pattern maker and bespoke seamstress in the New York fashion district, and a wonderful presence in my life. She was an absolute perfectionist when it came to making a garment, and she taught me to notice the details that elevate a couture or finely crafted piece. She always taught me to invest in the very best materials I could afford. For her, these were fine silks and cashmere, for me this is gold.

Why do you like working with karat gold?

My first gold piece was a custom order, handmade chain with little tube set diamonds and an Opal. As I’ve done so many times over the years, I designed and sketched a piece of jewelry, the customer said “yes I love it”, and then I went back to my studio and thought “ok, now how am I going to make this?” In the case of this necklace, I needed to purchase a different, more specialized torch, because goldwork is much more detailed and intricate than my previous pieces in silver. It requires a tiny, hot flame, which my old torch could not provide. So, I bought the torch, ordered the gold and went for it. I instantly fell in love. Gold heats up faster than silver, it’s less conductive, which is very helpful when I want to solder several elements close to one another without re-melting the previous joint. This allows me to design and fabricate more intricate pieces.

Gold is a challenge to work with because it is so expensive, mistakes are less affordable, I really need to focus and work intelligently at my bench, every step needs to be completed with precision. The stakes are high, but when it’s done right, finishing a well-crafted solid gold piece feels euphoric.

Gold is also quite strong, so it’s perfect for setting and protecting important gemstones, and when you set a stone in a gold setting it brings it to life. Gold elevates everything it touches.

Learn more about Shayna Jewelry here.


Vance Davidson

Vance Davidson rings


Vance Davidson Jewelry
How is karat gold important in your work? 

Gold is important to me because it is timeless. It is precious, valuable, heirloom, luxurious, and a glorious metal built to stand the test of time. To be producing a majority of my work in gold is a dream come true. I feel like my work is built to last in gold and will get even better with age. Most of the stones I like to work with I only envision in gold when selecting them – glowing sapphires and antique diamonds just won’t cut it in anything else. They complement each other, and elevate one another, coming together for a truly beautiful piece of jewelry. Gold is important to me because I feel more connected to what I am making – I am proud of the work that I create and completely stand behind the work that I do. It has elevated what I have been able to achieve so far and I am incredibly pleased knowing that my work will continue to be done (in majority) in gold, making special pieces to be cherished by my clients for many many years to come.

Why do you like working with karat gold?

Working with gold makes me feel like a legitimate jeweler. That may sound funny to some people, but when I first started as a silversmith…. I DREAMED of working in gold. It is absolutely beautiful, and is more fun to manipulate and work with. I love setting stones in gold – it is a magical process to watch a rugged setting get a gorgeous stone popped in, have metal pushed over the stone to hold it in and then buff out all the imperfections and get it polished to create a masterpiece. There is nothing quite like taking a project from the beginning to end in gold and watching how it transforms into its beauty.

Learn more about Vance Davidson Jewelry here.


Pieces of starr

Pieces of Starr

Pieces of Starr

Pieces of Starr
How is karat gold important in your work? 

Gold is important in my work mainly because of the nature of what I love to do most: setting stones and engraving. If we’re talking about the chemical compound of gold aka gold ore aka 24k gold- its a pretty cool metal. 24k gold can be mixed with a variety of alloys and metals to obtain a certain color and karat purity. I can go up the purity scale to something like 18k and it’s still plenty strong for stone setting. Conversely, I can go down the purity scale to even 9k and it’s still pure enough to withstand tarnishing. I can’t do that with any other metal without sacrificing a major component of metalsmithing. There’s a reason it’s the choice metal for jewelers and the things that make gold important to me are most likely shared across my peers and industry.

Why do you like working with karat gold?

Gold is such a clear winner for me in the precious metal category. It solders beautifully, holds its form, has a beautiful color, engraves well, and can be mixed to obtain different colors and purities. There is no other metal that can do that. Silver may be a brighter white than white gold, platinum may have a good tensile strength, but none of the precious metals can do, in every category, what gold does. Gold wins out on all the important factors for me personally in both an aesthetic and craftsman stand point. I love the look of yellow gold and I love working with and in yellow gold.

I engrave almost all of my pieces. When I am engraving, I am using a carbide graver that has been polished up to a mirror finish. A well polished graver will leave a mirror finish on gold. The graver is essentially transferring its finish into the gold as I’m cutting the metal. Not all metals can do this. Silver is a little gummy to engrave- think of trying to carve a sculpture out of melting ice vs super frozen hard ice. Silver engravings can tarnish and blacken. Sometimes, this is the intention of the artist, like for example a money clip or south western style. A blackened recessed engraved area can enhance a motif or script. For my own work and style however, I want my engravings to hold their shine and brilliance so gold is perfect for that.

The same reasons I love gold for engraving transfer over to stone setting. Gold is hard enough to hold stones in place and withstand most wear and tear of the wearer. 9/10 times in my work, the piece has both engraving and stone setting on the same piece. Stone setting and engraving are interchangeable as far as what is needed from the metal: it needs to be shiny, durable, and pretty. Gold does all of those things 🙂

Learn more about Pieces of Starr here.


Nikki Nation Jewelry

Nikki Nation

>Nikki Nation Jewelry

Nikki Nation Jewelry
How is karat gold important in your work? 

Gold is important in my work because it is a material that has helped me elevate my jewelry into the fine jewelry realm. I started working with sterling silver and it was always a goal of mine to use solid gold in all of my pieces. I now use 14k and 18k yellow gold in all of my collection pieces as well as for engagement and heirloom pieces. It is also important in my work because I am more conscious about what I am designing, who it’s for, where the materials are sourced, and the longevity of the piece. The entire creative process takes a lot of time and energy, and gold has caused me slow down in a more thoughtful way and think more about the what type of pieces I am putting out into the world.

Why do you like working with karat gold?

Outside of its beauty, I love working with gold because of it’s physical properties. I was originally trained as a metalsmith, and I still use all of those techniques in my jewelry today. It’s easy to work with and corporates when using all of the techniques that I use to create my pieces. Whether I am forming, forging, soldering, welding, or stone setting, gold does what I want it to do and is easy to manipulate, which is why it is my favorite material to work with. I also love the variety of alloys that are available and how each of them have their own characteristics.

Learn more about Nikki Nation Jewelry here.


Yara Sophia

Yara Sophia Jewelry

Yara Sophia

Yara Sophia
How is karat gold important in your work? 

I consider my work to be a synthesis of physics, gemology, and metallurgy, with gold playing a crucial role in all three disciplines. The physics aspect relates to how the gold solidifies during the transformation from wax to metal, and many factors involved in this process determine the final outcome. For instance, the placement and angle of the sprue on the tree, the type of gold used and even the cooling time of the cast – all these factors affect the appearance of the final product. Gold is a very forgiving metal that is malleable and soft. Immediately after the casting process is complete, the gold looks stunning and requires minimal polishing.

Metallurgy is all about gold, and for me, it is the best part of being an artist, as it is where a lot of creativity takes place. I also worked with bronze and silver in the past, and when I finally moved to work with gold, my pieces finally started to make sense.

When studying to be a bench jeweler, you learn standardized settings. We all are familiar with how those settings look, and not to take away from the art form and practice, but I approached jewelry in a way where I wanted to break those standards. My pieces are very organic and I embrace natural forms and gold, as a soft and shapeable metal allowed me to expand on those ideas. I work in space technology and have been doing it for ten years, and that field is all about precision – there is also a lot of gold used in designing spacecraft and instruments. But there is no room for error when building an instrument set to do science in space. But when it comes to my art, I want it to be full of imperfections. Whether it’s natural inclusions in a stone or embracing natural irregularities when hand carving the wax. I don’t believe my pieces would be what they are if I used another type of metal; gold allowed my ideas to come to fruition.

Why do you like working with karat gold?

After working with bronze and silver, I concluded that gold’s unique qualities and characteristics make it the most accurate translation from wax to metal. Because of it’s softness and durability, it can be worked over and over without breaking. Silver breaks after undergoing so much tension and you have to heat and cool it throughout. I love the way gold looks as it ages, too. It tells stories of the scratches and damage it endured over time and that’s likely attributed to it’s lack of tarnish.

I’ve always been interested in learning about the origins of things or the formation of how things came about, hence my work in space. Studying the universe provides answers to humankind’s greatest mysteries- from our planet’s formation to the formation of every living species. However, gold also tells an incredible story. All of the gold on our planet was formed billions of years ago, before the Earth and before us. Gold only made its way to Earth as a result of star explosions or supernovas. Through meteor impacts during the formation of our planet, gold eventually became embedded in the Earth’s core or mantle. Over time, weather patterns and volcanic eruptions caused these metals to rise to the surface, making them accessible for mining. When I think about it this way, it gives me goosebumps. Just knowing that the pieces of gold worn on our fingers, ears, necks, and wrists all come from stardust is utterly insane, and I can’t think of anything else more beautiful than that.

Learn more about Yara Sophia here.

This sponsored post was brought to you in collaboration with May Is Gold Month.

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