Typically inspired by color and the outdoors, local Denver jewelry never fails to turn heads. There are unique shops across the state to fit almost any need, but three stand out in their creativity with their work and having pieces that scream ‘Colorado.’ Whether you’re looking for a special occasion or the newest staple piece in your collection, these local jewelry shops are the perfect place to look.
Making jewelry started as a love of jewelry itself for founder Melissa Belmar. As an ecologist, Belmar surveys state parks for wildlife, plants and birds in the summer, but when winter rolls around, her work begins to slow down. That’s when she decided to take a metalsmith class. From there, she was hooked. After a year of practicing in her free time, she began selling on Etsy and Instagram.
Belmar says she draws inspiration from the many stones she works with, especially those with a more natural feel, such as turquoise.
“A lot of the time, I’m outside working and I come across a neat rock and I might use that in my jewelry,” Belmar said. “I try to honor the stone, that’s my main source of inspiration.”
For the most part, she works at ArtGym, a community workspace for artists. There, she is able to use equipment that is not easily accessible otherwise. Since this is her main workspace, she had some difficulty during the pandemic lockdown when the space shut down. Luckily, the community had her back.
“It seems like the general public really wanted to support small business, so I felt a lot of love and support during that time from people just buying pieces that I had already made listed on Etsy,”
iNk Jewelry owners Ina Gustafsen and Kristin Rankin met at a craft sale almost 20 years ago.
“I was a little intimidated and I didn’t know anybody,” Gustafsen said. “I’m setting up and in she comes, and in my mind, I said, ‘Oh, you’re the other jeweler.’”
Their immediate distaste for each other quickly wore off as they rode to Gustafsen’s house to get supplies. They’ve been best friends since.
Not long after meeting, the duo took a jewelry-making class at the senior center, but quickly realized they wanted to do more. They set up shop in Rankin’s garage for nearly 10 years, working throughout the year, even throughout the freezing winters. They then found a jewelry representative who started taking their work to boutiques across the country. The orders started flowing in from there.
Their current home lies in Belmar Shopping Center, where they work out of their shop in what they call their “test kitchen.” The middle of the shop remains a workspace, but their finished pieces surround the area, even including other art created by them and their close friends.
Gustafsen and Rankin’s style of jewelry aims to be more organic and less shiny. Nature has been the biggest inspiration for them, but they like to make it look like it has been around for a while, so almost all pieces have a beat-up finish.
“We strive for a piece of jewelry that is somebody’s favorite,” Gustafsen said.
When it comes to individual pieces, both artists touch every piece and make a collaborative effort for all they create. Pieces that were abandoned by one artist may be picked up and finished by the other. They have even stated that if one stopped making jewelry, the other likely will not continue.
“It’s just been such a wonderful, wonderful life for us,” Rankin said.
At just 15 years old, Lindsay Bloom Backman apprenticed with a jewelry designer, which led her to fall in love with the craft. It was when she moved to Los Angeles for college that she fully immersed herself in making jewelry, especially since she resided right next to the Jewelry District. Not long after, she made plenty of connections with TV personalities and stylists, leading her to the creation of Bloom Jewelry.
The team consists of five core members: Stacy McElhany-Rodgers, Head of Wholesale Sales; Christina Argo, Head of Operations; Doug Backman, Marketing Expert; Heather Reagan, Copywriter; and Backman, Head of Design and the founder of the company.
When the team comes up with new jewelry pieces, they are very planned out in advance to coordinate with upcoming styles for the season. Part of this process includes taking a yearly trip out to Tucson, Ariz. for the world’s largest gem show. Much of their inspiration comes from what they find on these trips.
“The real inspiration lies in the materials we find that are new and interesting and exciting to work with,” Backman said. “I love to travel, and the different colors, textures, patterns, and just the natural beauty I find all influence my design process as well.”
A unique aspect of this company is its strong dedication to customer happiness. Not only do they provide lifetime repairs, refreshes and polishes, but they are also open to custom designs and styling.
As seasons and color trends change, so do gemstones, so customers can expect to see new pieces in the upcoming months. Currently, they are featuring an Opal Collection for the summer months and launching fall and holiday designs in September.
Vireo, iNk, and Bloom Jewelry, while all having their own signature styles, are representative of the growing jewelry scene in Denver and the inspirational work that is yet to come.