One of Kristin Kennedy’s more distinct jewelry designs is what she calls the “artist’s palette,” a formation of gold that cradles sets of multi-colored stones. Its shapes are irregular, its patterns nontraditional, but that’s what makes Kennedy’s feminine, artistic jewelry what it is.
“My work is organic in its shape and design,” Kennedy said at her new storefront, tucked away on Warren Street in downtown Concord. It was a Monday, a few weeks before the shop’s grand opening, and Kennedy was busy. After the interview, she’d go straight back into her studio, complete with sandblaster, soldering table and vent.
“My inspirations come from nature. In some pieces, you can see this more. If I’m inspired by a plant, it takes a more freeform shape,” Kennedy said, gesturing to some of her other pieces, many of which are shaped like leaves or petals.
She’s new to being a retail business owner, but Kennedy’s been a self-employed jewelry maker since age 17, when she sold handmade jewelry creations to local galleries in her hometown of Tulsa, Okla. She studied at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, where she earned a BFA in metals and jewelry design, and she took courses at the Gemological Institute of America in California. She also worked as an apprentice for two years with a goldsmith in Sedona, from 1995 to 1997.
When she and her family moved to New Hampshire in 2000, she wasted no time becoming juried into the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen. Since then, she’s sold her work in nine different galleries throughout the East Coast, from New York to Connecticut, New Hampshire to Vermont. In the summertime, she’d travel constantly for exhibitions and festivals (particularly the Sunapee League of New Hampshire Craftsmen’s fair). She’s taken a break from traveling for now; before she opened shop, she primarily performed custom work and worked on her website.
“I’ve been looking for my own space for about a year, a space in which I could have my own studio and also a small gallery. There weren’t many options this size,” she said, gesturing to the space, which is 600 square feet.
When the quaint spot at 30A Warren St. become available in December, she wasted no time at all.
“We opened the shop Dec. 17,” Kennedy said. “It was a soft opening. The space became available Dec. 3, and we pretty much gutted the entire interior and transformed it into our gallery space, which turned out really beautifully, I think.”
The pieces that line the display cases are colorful yet natural, classic yet distinct.
“I look for really unique gems, something that offers a twist on the traditional,” Kennedy said, picking up a pair of dangling pearl earrings with a textured, gold base. “These are South Sea Pearls, but I’ve designed them in a way that’s pretty unique — they have a contemporary flair. It’s not your traditional style.”
Kennedy makes silver jewelry, too, but that collection is a bit funkier and edgier. She goes out of her way to seek out stones that provide a pop of color, or better yet, a surprise.
“A lot of people assume sapphires are blue because that’s what they know,” she said, picking up a gold necklace that had not blue but orange stones in it, inspired by a coral reef. “These are also sapphires.”
She feels lucky that her work has been received so well that she’s been able to continue making jewelry, and continue to grow in a permanent location right in the hub of downtown Concord.
“I think there’s a lot of potential here. It’s a great place in the summer, as well, with the artists market and concerts at True Brew close by,” Kennedy said. “I’m not a full-scale jewelry store. I make one-of-a-kind custom pieces. … I think people appreciate the fact that they’re not only meeting the artist, but also the person who purchased and found this specific stone that really inspired them, artistically.”
As seen in the April 24, 2014 issue of the Hippo.