We are delighted to share an interview with Maria of The North Way studio on the blog. She is one of the jewelers we are working with for the next Dream Diam x Gem Breakfast (our store) pop-up - aptly called Diamond Campaign (stay tuned for more on that). But besides that we love her for her unique, dark and mysterious aesthetic she brings to her brand and heirloom-inspired jewels she is known for.
How did you get started with your brand?
I opened up a shop on Etsy in 2011. A long time before I actually knew how to even solder a band. It began with just simple wire-wrapped earrings, knitted cowls, and just about anything else that sparked my creativity passing by. But the more I played with jewels, the more obsessed I became. I kept doing research and learning more, teaching myself little things here and there.
Eventually, I got a basic torch set-up, playing with sterling silver along with very simple bezel settings. I think with creating jewelry, it really does consume you to the point that you just have to keep learning more. So that’s what I did. I watched tutorials on Youtube, reached out to other artists for advice, dropped out of a college program I loathed, and soon, I found myself emailing local jewelry stores to see if they might take an apprentice on.
That’s how I found Power’s Jewelry in Milwaukee, WI — where we were living at the time. They had two phenomenal master goldsmiths (Hi Vicki and Susie, I love you guys!) that brought me in and basically taught me everything I know now — they let me play with diamonds, fire, sharp tools, deadlines, polishing wheels, and waxes.
But most importantly, they never once doubted my own vision. Along with the support of my incredible husband and family, they gave me the knowledge to go along with my enthusiasm, to reach out, and just keep charging ahead no matter what.
Within the past year or so now, The North Way Studio as a brand has finally been coming together. The aesthetic that I’ve seen in my head for so long now is taking shape into the twisted, dark faerie-tale that I’ve always wanted it to be. But without the amazing love I’ve seen throughout the years, I know I would never have been able to reach the point that I’m at now.
Where do you gather inspiration from?
I’ve been a gigantic bookworm for my entire life, living more in fantasy than I think in reality at some points. Looking back at my childhood, I feel bad for my parent’s wallets with how many books I went through, but they never complained and let me hole myself away for hours. Those tales turned to drawings and paintings, then eventually writing.
Stories about far-away realms, creatures that dwell in the dark, and brilliant magical escapades are ultimatly what influence my creations the most. With each piece, I try to blur the lines between what time period, or what world even, it could have come from. If a ring of mine could belong in a novel by Tolkien or Rowling, then really, my mission is complete.
What’s your best advice for women shopping for jewelry?
My best advice for anyone looking for jewelry would be to listen to the gemstones. I know I sound like a loon, but half the magic in jewelry is within the jewels themselves. When I shop for gems to add to my hoard, I like to pick pieces that just jump out at me. They’re usually the ones that aren’t perfect, or a bit more included than the others, but they have a personality that just grabs and holds onto you. And that’s really when I know when I’ve found something I can’t possibly live without.
What excites you about this project with Gem Breakfast?
Really everything about this project with Gem Breakfast excites me! From collaborating with not only my friends but meeting new incredible artists, to working with hand-selected diamonds that are really just out of this world gorgeous, every part of this project is something from the heart. And that’s what jewelry should be about, something that gives a little bit of love every time it's worn.
What’s your favorite color diamond?
It’s a little cruel to narrow down diamonds for me, but here recently I’ve been lusting after the diamonds with a bit of opalescence to them. The ones with inclusions that reflect back a little foggy, with just a hint of a rainbow to them — those are the diamonds I like to add to my treasure trove.
When’s I’m not designing jewelry I am…
When I’m not designing jewelry, I’m probably asleep dreaming about more jewelry. Honestly, I truly believe half my brain is always on gem-mode. Otherwise, I’m snuggling my three pups with my incredible husband, writing my dark and grotesque novel, reading while tucked away in my bathrobe with a bottle of wine or playing chess at our favorite brewery.
Maria will be commissioning a one of kind ring for Gem Breakfast. Make sure you follow along to see what she makes!