Endless talk of all things sparkly.

Jewelry Store: Charley Hafen Gallery in Salt Lake City, UT

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Maura of ShopFiligree stumbled upon a unique gallery featuring hand-engraved pieces made in-house all by designer Charley Hafen.  His shop and his designs had to be shared…thanks Maura for this find from Salt Lake City, Utah:

When I first happened into his gallery and glanced into the ring case, I mused aloud, “Oh, I didn’t know you had antique rings here, too!”  To which Charley replied, “We don’t!”  I was mystified at first but upon closer inspection and Charley’s kind education, I quickly learned that he had designed and crafted most all of the pieces himself (some pieces by other local artisan jewelers, too).  Each ring, pendant or pair of earrings is one-of-a-kind, as ideas for the designs emerge — some commissioned by customers seeking a unique treasure, while others exist simply because they begged to be brought from concept to creation.  

To be clear, Charley’s pieces are not listless attempts at mere “reproductions” nobody’s trying to fool anyone, far from it.  Instead, Charley draws on various sources of inspiration ranging from historical art and design eras as well as his own finely-tuned artistic inclinations.  His signature marriage of diverse influences is strong throughout the collection, though the pieces themselves are far from predictable.  Some pieces cater further to the Brancusi-an uber-modern – elongated, abstract shapes, sleek lines.  Others, so bedecked in Baroque-encrusted opulence, to the untrained eye could pass for part of the Sun King’s collection seated amongst the hope diamond itself.  Other pieces incorporate elements from both design extremes into one surprisingly cohesive and delightful result.

Every piece is truly and without cliché, a work of art.  While each bauble has its own personality, they clearly all stem from the same family tree – the interplay across his vast variety of styles only adds to the intrigue.  Each additional moment spent studying, one discovers a new, unexpected element that goes above and beyond the call of design duty…feathered etching on the wide underside of a band, a new pattern emerges on the shank different from the shoulders, secret tiny diamonds inset into the top or bottom of a wedding band, a stone setting that is just slightly askew despite it’s more traditional surroundings…it is the subtle yet extraordinary detailing or “secret wink” these pieces possess that absolutely demands your careful observation, attention and applause.  Charley masterfully weaves the finest elements of history, art and beauty together into an outstanding aesthetic tapestry all his own, constantly reinventing “the ring.”

An important revelation on my own part — Charley Hafen has single-handedly removed my own (idiosyncratic) stigma I tend to place on “new” vs. antique jewelry – telling myself that “it just isn’t the same.”  After examining countless pieces and learning more about his process in his cozy showroom, however, I realized that most everything I love about my most favorite jewels, I could find right in front of me.  Charley’s creations capture the very same attributes I treasure about my favorite antique pieces – unique, personal, emotional, artful, thoughtful, enduring, diverse, exciting – without aiming to simply replicate their look.  He has succeeded in creating wearable art with a modern heart and antique soul – all the while remaining humble and an absolute pleasure to speak with.

>> Click here to visit Charley Hafen’s Gallery online