Name: Karen Sugarman
Website Link: www.karensugarmandesigns.com
Where are you located? Scottsdale, Arizona
Tell us a bit about yourself: I grew up in Louisiana as an only child (although I do have a wonderful older step-sister) with parents that made certain I had plenty of artistic experiences. I graduated from Northeast Louisiana University with a degree in Education and taught high school for four years early in my career. I eventually transitioned into interior design and eventually owned my own retail design store in addition to my design firm for over 20 years in Boston.
When and why did you begin creating your jewelry/art? I began designing jewelry in 2005 when my family was transferred from Boston to Arizona. Having been uprooted from such a long-term career as a designer and leaving behind a fabulous office on Boston’s posh Newbury Street in addition to a busy schedule with high profile clients, I began tinkering with jewelry in an attempt to occupy my sudden abundance of free time in this new city. I was inspired by a necklace I had brought back from Paris a few years prior and attempted to modify and improve upon a very simple style. Although that necklace was lovely, I always felt it needed to be more bountiful and creative. My first prototype was a floral inspiration and the lush bouquet format confirmed my idea resulting in a completely new design. If interior design was my first love, beautiful jewelry was my second!
What do you make? Although I make several different styles of jewelry, my hallmark design is the lush format statement necklaces that were inspired by the Parisian necklace. I like to think of it as handcrafted couture jewelry with a twist.
What materials and methods do you use? Most of the designs I prefer to work with utilize a wire twist and/or wire wrap method. I do seem to have a fascination with time consuming and complex designs and much prefer a long-term project over the simple bead stringing techniques. I utilize a cacophony of semi-precious gemstones and freshwater pearls and most often work with either sterling silver or 24K gold vermeil due to metal allergies. I do hope to try my hand at working with high karat gold sometime in the near future.
Where do your design inspirations come from? Like all designers (interior, fashion & jewelry), I am inspired by everything! A garden of delicate flowers, beautiful artwork, a fabulous pair of shoes or stunning interior design can become a point of inspiration. I believe that my experiences as an interior designer have greatly influenced my style as a jewelry designer and, as a matter of fact, I have devoted an entire blog to that idea. Additionally, my southern roots have clearly had a great influence on my “feminine” style both as an interior designer and as a jewelry designer – something I am completely oblivious to!
What is your best working environment/where is your studio? Believe it or not, since all of this started out as a little folly, I still work at my kitchen table. I must admit that it frequently spills over into the counter space of my very generous kitchen. I’m certain that my Hubby is secretly worried he is going to have “gemstone soup” some evening for a first course at dinner! Since a kitchen renovation is in the works and will begin shortly, I have plans to restructure my office into a studio with long expanses of counter surfaces to allow me the luxury of keeping several projects out simultaneously. Necessity is the mother of invention!
Where can your products be seen? In addition to my web site , my blog, and 1000Markets, my jewelry is also in an elegant store in Phoenix called – Do Me A Favor which specializes in the most magnificent custom gift wraps you have ever seen!
Magazine articles or press: WGSN, Recessionista Americana, April 2009; AZ Society, April 2009; Desert Living, April 2009
Who are you a fan of? I admire antique and estate jewelry for the quality of workmanship and fine details and Chanel and Van Cleef & Arpels for their feminine genre.
Price range: $65 to $1,500
Tell us a little about one of your favorite creations: I have been transfixed by sea shells since I was a child and this amazement continues as an adult. One of my favorite designs was this “Shell of an Idea” necklace which not only fed my fascination with seashells, but also included an exquisite antique angel skin coral cameo brooch. It was purchased by a young man in Boston for his girlfriend after she admired the necklace – a very lucky gal!
Anything else you wish to add? I am just delighted and honored to have been invited to do this interview for World Artisan Gems. To think that I have been included in such a prestigious group of artisans is more than I could ever have hoped for.