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The Backstory: Creating the Island Charm for Permanent Jewelry

The Backstory: Creating the Island Charm for Permanent Jewelry

Behind the Scenes: Creating a Captivating Island Charm

Last summer, we started to offer permanent jewelry at the shop. If you’re not familiar with permanent jewelry, it's a really fun way to customize jewelry. It is typically a bracelet, or an anklet without a clasp, a continuous chain that is soldered together to perfectly fit the wearer's wrist. You also have the option to add charms in the form of gemstones, pearls, initials, and fun shapes. For more about permanent jewelry click here.


Ruby and 14k Gold Chain Permanent Jewelry Bracelet from Martha's Vineyard

Creating the Island Charm: A Tale of Permanence and Precious Metal

It wasn’t long into our permanent jewelry venture when I realized that I wanted nothing more than to have a teeny tiny version of Martha’s Vineyard Island that could be incorporated into one of the permanent bracelets we were creating in the studio. So of course I set out to create one! 

Martha's Vineyard Bracelet Station in 14k Gold

In thinking about a small piece in the shape of Martha’s Vineyard that could be seamlessly and permanently attached to a wrist, I knew that I wanted to work in precious metals. I had never worked with 14 karat gold before, but given my love of the island, and given my desire to create a bracelet that you might never want to take off, a bracelet that would last and last, and be as precious as the island that I call home, I really felt that it had to be solid gold—a testament to the cherished island I call home.

Martha's Vineyard charms in 14k gold and sterling silver for permanent jewelry bracelets


From Concept to Creation: Designing the Perfect Island Charm for a Bracelet

Last June, I partnered with a skilled goldsmith, Eric, whom I was introduced to through a mutual friend and together we’ve been working on iterating these designs for the past nine months. We set out to create a teeny tiny Martha’s Vineyard Island shape, made out of 14 karat gold, as well as one in Sterling silver, for those who prefer a white metal. The early versions looked very flat like cardboard cutouts and we worked together to add the interesting topography of the island including the inlets and waterways onto these tiny treasures. 

Martha's Vineyard charm on a 14 karat gold bracelet

Crafting Martha’s Vineyard: The Story Behind Our Island Charm for Permanent Jewelry  

When designing this piece, it was really important to me to integrate the island seamlessly into the surrounding chain. I was determined to design a piece where the connecting rings remain inconspicuous, allowing the island itself to shine as the focal point. Due to the small size of this island (we're talking about under half an inch here) it was hard not to have the jump ring —the term for the connecting ring—overtake the design. This was difficult to achieve artfully so I created a series of sketches exploring different ways to connect the island. A large, conventional circular ring on either side of the island really was not what I was going for. Was there a way that I could somehow use the natural contours of Martha’s Vineyard, its ponds, bays, and inlets as anchoring points for the chain?

14k Gold martha's vineyard permanent jewelry bracelet

Navigating Martha’s Vineyard Jewelry: Finding Anchor Points for Perfection

Eric and I settled on a fusion of the two bottom sketches. On the eastern shoreline by Chappaquiddick, we snugly nestled a half of a jump ring into the top right side of the charm, following the natural curvature of the bay. We basically used the natural sandbar that curves off of the Cape Pogue Lighthouse, extended it northwestward past Cow Bay, towards Jaws Bridge on State Beach, encapsulating Edgartown Outer Harbor as the connection point!

Behind the Scenes: Creating a Captivating Martha's Vineyard Island Charm

Here are some of the drawings that I created. 


At the island's western edge, near Aquinnah, my initial vision of using either Menemsha Pond or Squibnocket Pond as connection points posed logistical challenges. Instead, we discreetly affixed a semicircle connector—essentially half of a jump ring—around Menemsha Bight. This connector spans from Menemsha Beach to the Gay Head Lighthouse in Aquinnah, anchoring the chain at the island's western tip.

Overall I think we did a pretty good job at letting the island shape shine as the main attraction, where the connection points essentially disappear.

Once Eric had worked his magic and built the final prototype for our favorite design, he ended up casting the island shape with the rings just how we liked them. By doing it this way, we can create additional islands with more ease in the future.

Two tone martha's vineyard bracelet permanent jewelry gold and silver

I am proud to say that we now offer these Martha’s Vineyard charms as offerings in our permanent Jewelry Studio on Circuit Avenue in Oak Bluffs. If you’re interested in learning more about this process or this offering visit this page.

As a jewelry designer, of course, the journey doesn’t end there. The minute that I held this tiny golden treasure in my hand, knew what needed to happen next… (read more)

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