Thursday, August 19, 2021


By Eva Fydrych

Ellen Lyons Jewelry Designs

Photos courtesy of Ellen Lyons

Today in our "8 Questions With..." interview series, we are pleased to present a Seattle-based jewelry artist, Ellen Lyons, who creates beautiful and unique pieces that celebrate individuality and support fair trade.

Some of our readers may remember Ellen from our previous interview, published four years ago. The creative founder of Ellen Lyons Jewelry Designs has been continuously expanding her jewelry line and producing more and more stunning pieces.

This time, we asked Ellen to share some behind the scenes aspects of running a jewelry business, recommend her favorite items for the upcoming season, and reveal some of her plans for the next year. Enjoy our interview below!

Photo courtesy of Ellen Lyons

FASHION STUDIO: Let's go back to November 2017 and our first interview. What has changed since then? Could you sum up your designing journey and tell us about some of the most important moments and key events?

ELLEN: There have been so many changes starting with the pandemic. Some cherished friends and a family member very close to me all passed so I became more pensive and went inward cherishing my precious memories. That led to going back over old artwork and sketchbooks. I am now putting the finishing touches on a new series of pieces that I have named The Whimsy Collection. The pieces are slowly being released on my website and are also available until September 26 through the Sun River Virtual Arts Festival.

FASHION STUDIO: Which of your products seem to be most popular? Have your customers' tastes changed over the years?

ELLEN: Most of my work are OAK pieces or one-of-a-kind. Some of my best sellers continue to be hoop earrings, reticulated silver pieces and I would say the special line cast from sea shells with and without gemstones. The sea shells are from my favorite island in Mexico.

FASHION STUDIO: What makes a jewelry designer successful? What are the most important qualities a person should possess in your opinion?

ELLEN: Here are all the different hats that I wear. Artisan, designer, public relations and marketing manager, web designer, sales manager, shipping manager and ninja clerk, inventory manager, bookkeeper, buyer of all raw materials, creator of wholesale line sheets, contract writer (I have a legal background), photographer, photo editor, travel agent and emergency medic for sawed, drilled, hammered and burned fingers. Anyone who cannot multi-task should not be a sole proprietor artist.

Photo courtesy of Ellen Lyons

FASHION STUDIO: With so many restrictions on international travel since last year, how have you managed to stay inspired and creative?

ELEN: My sources of inspiration continue to be old sketchbooks, the work of my fellow sister artists of Sisters Art Guild (Instagram: sistersartguild).

I am also inspired by some of my earlier pieces that I am revisiting and coming up with new ideas from because sometimes that past can serve as a major inspiration for the present. I am also constantly inspired by patterns and textures found in nature.

FASHION STUDIO: Could you tell us a little bit more about your current jewelry show?

ELLEN: My August 2021 show is a virtual show through the Sun River Art Festival website.

It’s a show that takes place every August. It is three days in Sun River, Oregon from August 13-15th for in-person vendors. The virtual show runs August 13th-September 26th. I’m really excited because I am not only going to show my reticulated sterling silver work, but also the new Whimsy Collection some of which features Oregon mined sunstones. Sunstones come in a huge range of colors, reds, purples, pinks, oranges….Eva, just think of your most favorite Mexican sunset over the Pacific Ocean. Those are the colors!

Photo courtesy of Ellen Lyons

FASHION STUDIO: What styling tips when it comes to combining jewelry with various items of clothes could you share with our readers? How to make sure that the jewelry complements your look and is suitable for a particular outfit?

ELLEN: Honesty is always the best policy. So when it comes to styling, I’m going to say that I’m not a stylist nor into trendy fashion. I’m more of a bohemian chic cowgirl with some pearls thrown in. That said, wear what makes you feel good. If the high heels hurt your feet, take them off. I walked the hills of San Francisco back in the 80’s in high heels, hence this attitude. I also want to promote wearing pearls. I have a line of pearl knotted work with and without gemstones. They are only available wholesale right now but I periodically make them available on my Instagram and Facebook pages. I can also be contacted to see them because they include a special line called Push presents for new moms.

FASHION STUDIO: Which of your pieces would you recommend for Fall/Winter 2021?

ELLEN: I want to recommend my reticulated silver line. Let me explain. Sterling silver is a combination of 92.5% Sterling and 7.5% copper. Reticulated sterling consists of these two metals plus fine silver. Through a technique called depletion gilding, the fine silver is brought to the surface of this metal alloy. When this happens, the metal looks like it has tiny little blisters on the surface. Then, using just a jeweler’s torch, the metal is heated and those blisters start to flow as a jeweler’s torch is brushed across the surface creating these wonderful peaks and valleys. The texture is similar to what we experience in the mountains. (Photo attached). This is a special technique of studio jewelers like myself with a formula for the alloy that I am not sharing except for $1,000,000 cash.

Photo courtesy of Ellen Lyons

FASHION STUDIO: Where do you see your business next year? What are your plans for 2022?

ELLEN: My plans for 2021 and 2022 are to become “fair mined and fair trade” certified. This is now a huge issue particularly with Millenials and Generation Z. Artisanal (small scale) miners use mercury to separate gold from host rocks. It’s highly toxic and in places like Peru, the mercury is ending up in the Amazon and its tributaries. There is also a huge problem in parts of Africa where diamonds and gold are still being used to finance civil wars (Congo) and used to launder money for weapons trading, drugs and sex trafficking. As a person who very much believes in Karma, I am very committed to pursuing a right livelihood. It’s going to take a little while to get this certification, but it is extremely important to me. I want my customers to know that all of my metals and gemstones are fair traded, fair mined as well as sustainably and ethically sourced.

Readers who are interested in finding out more can direct questions to me at I have a list of resources to share. Gemstones are mined all over the world. Fair mined and fair traded gemstones mean that the miners are paid a fair living wage, they have health care, clean drinking water at the mine sites, schools for the children, no slave labor and they are protected from toxic mercury and cyanide and taken care of if injured.

An as artist, I have to keep stretching and growing and challenging myself to add more skills to my skill bank so I’m going to take some more classes stateside. I also plan to go to Italy to take some classes in the granulation technique so I need to work on my Italian. It is also time to start writing my memoir which will be titled “Swim Fins in the Bathtub and Other Stories from an Original Life.”

FASHION STUDIO: Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts, Ellen! It's been a pleasure talking to you again.

Photo courtesy of Ellen Lyons

Photo courtesy of Ellen Lyons

How to find Ellen Lyons Jewelry Designs at the Sun River show:




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