Our Small Business Snapshot series features photos that represent, in just one image, what the small businesses we feature are all about. Deborah Vivas, co-owner, designer and metalsmith at Vivasmith, a business founded in 2014 that designs and sells unique handcrafted jewelry, explains how this image represents her business.
This photograph shows the process of fusing gold to steel — we use this unconventional marriage of metals because of their contrasting nature and history. We handcraft each piece from start to finish in our studio, and each design is intended to open the wearer's senses to the feel of the steel and high carat gold elegance.
My interest in jewelry started while I was in school studying architecture. The sentimental value we give to our adornment and the history behind each piece has always been intriguing to me. I eventually veered off jewelry and started working in the design industry. I moved to different countries and many cities, but always carried my one suitcase filled with essentials tools for making jewelry — in each place, I would set up a little table and spread out all my tools to create pieces for gifting to family and friends. Finally in 2014, with the help of my life and business partner, we decided to combine both of our passions — metals and gemstones — and we started Vivasmith.
One of the challenges we face in this industry is a lack of knowledge about art and contemporary jewelry. Often, the creative process isn't valued, either due to the belief that jewelry can’t be an expression of art, or just because there's a preconceived notion that jewelry can only be valued by type and weight of metal or gemstone used. With each piece, there's a fair amount of research involved before starting any design — after the idea is sketched, each artist has to apply all they've learned through the technical process to create a piece of jewelry that satisfies our creative minds and that’s comfortable to the wearer. We try to start conversations about art and contemporary jewelry to educate those who cross our path at every opportunity.
An interesting thing people should know about our jewelry is that each piece has its own story. We use upcycled metals and objects to create our collections. A perfect example of this is our 1929 railroad nails cuff-links. They're made from nails that were driven into railroad ties, bridge timbers and other wooden structures to record the date of construction. We add a special touch to these vintage nails by fusing them with recycled gold, making them a unique remembrance of America’s Industrial Revolution.