She spies a colorful sparkle and kneels in the sand, gently pushing aside grains to reveal a stone. A grin slowly appears on her face as she lifts it from the beach and wipes it with her other hand to investigate the value of her new-found treasure. The warm breeze sweeps her hair across her neck as she holds the stone in her hand and continues her walk along the shore of Lake Michigan. Someday soon, that small stone will become the focus of her attention in her small studio, perhaps becoming the setting for a stunning new ring.
For over 12 years, Jane Merrill has been inspired by raw, uncut stones that she has discovered and has expertly set them in metal to become striking artisan jewelry.
“I love the challenge of taking a rough stone and creating a unique piece with it,” Jane explains. “I always start with the stone and then create the setting. It’s a very organic process.”
Historically, jewelry has been worn not only for fashion but also to protect against bad luck or illness. The earliest necklaces were made from fishbone while other jewelry became symbolic in its use, such as in weddings or other cultural ceremonies.
Today, jewelry is made of an immeasurable variety of materials, colors, and styles and has become an inseparable part of most women’s wardrobes.
In a small studio in Lansing, Michigan, you will find Jane’s collection of uncut, rustic stones from all over the world. “I just love stones. I have a big stash that is probably more than I’ll ever need,” she admits.
What began as an interest in beading grew to a passion for metalsmithing when she was gifted a torch, solder, and metal. “As soon as I had those tools in my hand, I fell in love,” she reminisced.
As a full-time veterinarian and single mom, Jane finds bits of time to work on new pieces that she sells in several shows in the region, including Artalicious. “The challenge in working with weirdly shaped stones is designing a setting that is aesthetically pleasing while still being solid. Some of my mistakes have ended up being my favorite pieces,” Jane explains.
Jane continues to hone her craft and has aspirations of displaying her work on the east coast of the United States as well as the artisan show held at the Smithsonian.
“I love making rings, earrings, and pendants out of stones that most other artists would never think of creating jewelry from,” said Jane. “That is very satisfying to me.”
Jewelry lovers can learn more about Jane and her rustic designs at Artalicious this fall where she will also demonstrate her craft for attendees.