Pennsylvania-based social-worker-turned-jewelry-designer Amy Martin is redefining the meaning of elegance when it comes to her designs. “Elegance, to me, is being comfortable in your own skin, embracing who you are without worrying about what everyone else thinks, and following your passions in a way that lets you share your unique purpose with the world,” explains Martin. With clean lines and organic textures, Esma Jewelry embraces this idea with a modern-meets-eclectic aesthetic. We caught up with talented designer to find out more about her process, her inspirations and what we can look forward to in the future.
two+seven: We’re always inspired by the creative minds whose careers do a 180, landing them on a completely different path than the one they started on. With a background in social work yourself, what was the pivotal point in your career that made you take the full leap into jewelry design?
Amy Martin: Making the decision to completely change directions is always a little scary. I had gotten to the point in my social work career where I knew that if I wanted to move further in the field, I would need to go back to school. I had been making jewelry for a couple of years at that point and loved it, so I had to decide if I wanted to continue to pursue jewelry or stick with social work and go back to school. Social work drained me, while my jewelry business excited and energized me, so I had to pick jewelry.
The Savanna Necklace, $79
2+7: What was the most challenging aspect of this switch? The most rewarding?
AM: The most challenging aspect was definitely letting go of something stable and certain for something unpredictable. Working for myself has that intense factor of everything relying on me. There’s no one there to tell me “this is what you need to do today.” While that is the biggest challenge, it is also what makes it incredibly rewarding. Fortunately, I’ve found some great coaches who are able to help give me some guidance, so I’m not just floundering aimlessly. Every time someone buys a piece of my jewelry, it is amazing, because there are so many choices out there, and they chose mine. I’m always grateful for that.
2+7: Your jewelry is somewhat minimalist and modern, yet unique and eclectic. Tell us a bit about your “reticulation” process and the materials you use in order to achieve this look.
AM: I started using reticulation in my designs a couple of years ago, because I just loved the unique texture it gives to the surface of the metal. No two pieces will be the exact same, which makes it really special. I start with a piece of metal that I’ve cut out in the design I want. I then use a torch to basically melt the surface of the metal to a point where it begins to move. It sort of resembles the surface of water moving back and forth. I then put it in a solution called “pickle” to clean the surface. This is repeated multiple times until I get the texture I want.
Often when reticulation is done, it is done on larger sheets and then the design is cut from there, however I prefer to cut my designs out first, because I like how the process softens the edges of the piece. Once I get the texture I like, I then finish the piece of jewelry. I will say that it has taken a lot of practice to not completely destroy the piece of metal I’m working on. In the past, I ended up with a lot of pieces with holes in them from the torch being too hot. Actually, sometimes the holes ended up looking cool, so I would create a piece with it anyway, but ideally, there are no holes.
2+7: What’s one of your favorite piece(s)? Best sellers?
AM: My all-time favorite piece is my Veronica Bracelet, which I’ve had a version of pretty much since I started working with metal. It’s been one of my best selling pieces, and it’s so easy to wear and looks great stacked in multiples. My favorite earrings at the moment are the Nell Earrings, because I love big hoops! I’ve been wearing these almost every day. My customer favorites are the Tamryn and Stella Earrings, because they are both classic styles, yet cool and unique.
2+7: What’s next?
AM: I’m really excited to be taking an enameling class this month! I’ve been wanting to learn this process for quite a while, and attempts at teaching myself haven’t worked out too well, so I’m pretty psyched about finally learning how to do it. My plan is to incorporate enamel into my spring collection, which means – color! Spring just begs for color, so I’m excited to be able to be able to experiment with this and hopefully create some really fresh new pieces.