When Robin Callahan got back into jewelry making in her 50s and decided to start her business, she was mostly focused on her craft. Only later did she realize that jewelry making would give her access to the most significant moments in people’s lives.
“I didn’t even consider that aspect of the job when I first started, but in most cases, people ask me to create pieces for a memorial or celebration of some sort. When they look at the piece it’ll bring back all those memories, which is why I make the jewelry making process memorable too,” says Callahan, speaking from her studio on Bainbridge Island.
For many of us, engagement and wedding rings are the biggest investment we’ll make in jewelry, and Callahan loves being part of the process.
“I love doing bridal, and I always ask to see pictures of the wedding or engagement,” she says. “Women usually have a good idea of what they want, but I do coach my guys a little bit to help with the design. Then I get messages from the bride saying ‘Oh my God Robin, you nailed it!’”
3 show-stopping options for bridal jewelry
- Heirloom jewels, repurposed: You may have Grandma’s diamond, a plus rings from the bride’s mom and the groom’s mom. Callahan can reuse stones and bands with sentimental value, find new stones to match your heirloom ones, and re-cut scratched gems for a new sparkle. “It’s my job to dream up designs based on my client’s personal aesthetic and lifestyle. I’ll sketch concepts and they usually pick bits and pieces from each. It evolves into a one-of-a-kind keepsake.”
- Skip the diamond, give me color: Callahan recommends Montana Sapphire for clients who don’t want a traditional white stone, because it’s hard enough to withstand daily wear. “I like that Montana Sapphire is made in the USA, and I have a great relationship with the mine,” she says. Callahan visits to dig in the mine herself, and also brings back buckets of gravel to sort through at home. “I’ll say to my husband, ‘Hey, let’s go mining.’ And we’ll head out to the garage with a bottle of wine and look through the gravel on the light table our son built.” A Montana Sapphire is much more affordable than a diamond, so you’ll have more room in your budget to make the rest of the ring more memorable.
- Diamonds, or diamond-like: Callahan has a collection of G.I.A. graded diamonds and CanadaMark diamonds, plus lab-grown diamonds to help her clients save money. Another option is moissanite, which was first discovered in a meteorite crater and has only recently been produced in a lab. “You have to find the right supplier, because there’s a lot of cloudy moissanite out there. I came across a woman-owned company that has just stunning moissanite. I can order any size I want, and it costs half as much as gems from a distributor. I’m able to pass those savings on to my clients,” Callahan says.
Callahan has endless creativity when it comes to ring design, finding gorgeous and practical ways to integrate engagement bands and other features. After an initial consultation, she’ll draw sketches, plus Computer Aided Design images and 3D video. If the client’s still not sure, she can print a wax mold for the client to try on.
“I sketch all the time. I have too many designs stuck in my brain that I just have to get out!”