The art of jewelry making is a creative, meditative process for artist Belle Brooke. As a young teenager her passion for art started with photography, a skill that would later provide a framework for her career as a goldsmith. Belle was born and raised in Houston, TX, and eventually found herself studying photography at Pitzer College. Along the way she enjoyed making jewelry as a hobby, often vending on street corners and pop-up markets. After college, she attended the Revere Academy of Jewelry Arts in San Francisco.
From California, she made her way to Colorado, and down into New Mexico, ultimately settling in Santa Fe. Her flagship store ROCK + FEATHER features a collective of women artists working in New Mexico that share a similar artistic vision. Among those artists, is her mother, Cara Barer, who uses books to sculpt abstract forms that later serve as inspiration for her photography. Behind the store is Belle's studio, where the walls are adorned with her mother's work - an obvious sign that her creativity is part of a bigger generational energy. Belle was named after her grandmother who was married to her grandfather, also a jeweler. Belle uses his same tools in the studio today.
Belle's signature design features repeating circles that can incorporate different metals and diamonds. She expands on this concept in her artist statement:
"The circle is a universal symbol of flow, life force, cycle, and interconnection. The circle is the beginning and the end, the empty and the full, it is everything and it is no-thing-ness, it never ends and it never begins. So much of life is a circle – the Earth and planets, the sun, the moon, the universe, tiny particles, a drop of water, a floating bubble. Sometimes we forget that we are all of it, the light and the dark, we are connected to the Earth, to the Universe, and to each other. The circle reminds us of oneness and that we can never fall out of it, that we are everything and nothing all at once.
Each piece embodies the essence of this concept through the use of a signature circular filigree matrix that I created and have been refining since 2005. It is organic in nature and encased in hard edge frames that bind it. Using color and contrast in the metal, as well as negative space, colored gemstones and diamonds, each piece engages those who gaze upon it. Some pieces are of abstract shapes and designs and some are earthly elements. Each piece is to be worn as a modern talisman, to remind us of what we are and know that at any moment we can click our heels and be home within ourselves, and that we are always connected to the vast, wild, and infinite universe."
When asked what her favorite part of jewelry making is, she is quick to say that she enjoys the entire process. From working with the raw materials and creating casts to setting stones and polishing the final product, each step of the way fulfills that creative spark. Belle enjoys making jewelry that she can wear, that is able to express her own style and creativity. Her work is a beautiful example of innovation as it strays from more modern, imitative jewelry on the market today.
Find jewelry by Belle Brooke available at Blue Rain Gallery.