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Local Jeweler: Bridal Beginnings and Family Heirlooms

Ann Elizabeth Jewelry

By Fay Castronova

They say a piece of jewelry can tell a story and Ann Westley of Eagle, Idaho couldn’t agree more. For her clients, she creates pieces that are “one-of-a kind-designs for once-in-a-lifetime moments.”

© Ampersand Studios 2017

Ann founded her company, Ann Elizabeth Jewelry, after graduating as a Graduate Jeweler Gemologist from GIA (The Gemological Institute of America) in Carlsbad, California. Ann Elizabeth Jewelry is a fine-jewelry, custom-design studio located in downtown Eagle (by appointment).

“My love of jewelry started with my grandmothers, Ann Brockmeier and Elizabeth Bauer. In my childhood, I always admired my grandmothers’ jewelry and the special pieces they collected over the years,” shared the designer. “I was named after these two incredible women, so I decided to name my company after them.”

Ann’s jewelry career began in Libertyville, Illinois, where she took a jewelry-making class in high school. That elective course sparked her interest in design. She traveled to Australia during a college-summer break to work with her cousin, Sara, who owned a boutique. Ann also spent time working with a fine-jewelry designer in Brisbane. “It was there that I discovered my artistic passion and began my path to becoming a custom-jewelry designer,” recalled Ann.

With a plan to become a Gemologist and Jeweler, Ann returned to the United States and enrolled in the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). As a student, she spent more than two years studying diamonds, colored gems, designs and jewelry-making. She then worked as a bench jeweler and Gemologist in a San Diego store that specialized in engagement rings. The retail experience led her to be a custom, bridal jeweler. She began making pieces for friends and her network expanded to clients in many states. In 2008, Ann was hired to teach Gemology at GIA, a position she held until moving to Idaho in 2016. As an instructor and staff member at GIA, the world’s foremost authority on Gemology, Ann increased her own jewelry knowledge as she taught students from all over the world.

As Ann Elizabeth Jewelry continues to grow, the demand for heirloom re-design and restorations has increased.  “I am very passionate about jewelry restorations of vintage pieces as well as modifications to jewelry to update the style,” Ann explained.

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Clients may have special pieces that have been given to them by relatives and the clients often wish to retain the connection to the loved one.  Ann works with these clients to incorporate the often sentimental, heirloom jewelry into a wearable design. “The jewelry I design has meaning and tells a client’s story.  I love that I am able to create one-of-a-kind heirlooms.  In my company’s success, I have found that choosing exquisite gemstones and fine metals, meticulous craftsmanship, and the participation of the client lead to beautifully-finished pieces, unique to each client.”

The process of creating dream pieces involves meeting with clients and hand-sketching their designs from the initial consultation. With client input, she’s then able to present a computer-aided design (CAD) that shows all angles of the new piece of jewelry. Afterward, a 3D-printed wax model is reviewed by the customer. “I love the moment I reveal the piece and I get to see my client’s reaction… thrilled, excited and sometimes tearful!” Ann shared excitedly. “It’s a special time for both of us.”

“At every GIA graduation, I would tell my favorite quotation to my international students: ‘Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you imagined’ by Henry David Thoreau. I dreamed of having a business of making jewelry and having quality time with my family.  With my studio, I am now living that dream in Eagle with my amazing husband, our two sons, and a career and business that I absolutely love!”

Ann Elizabeth Jewelry recently celebrated its 15-year Anniversary. You can schedule or book your appointment online: annelizabethjewelry.com/ or by calling 208-918-1889.

© Ampersand Studios 2017