Using sterling silver from vintage forks combined with natural stones, pearls and cubic zirconia, artist Don Kelley creates simple, stunning jewelry designs. Visit his website for more.
While at a dinner party, my mind started drifting, eventually landing on a fork. A strange thought came to me: “This would be a way better bracelet than a fork.”
That was years ago. Today I create timeless jewelry that is both simple and striking from vintage silver dinner forks. I shape, sculpt and re-forge each fork around a natural stone to create bracelets, pendants, earrings, pins and rings.
I almost never have a predetermined design or preformed idea, as I “cold form” each piece of metal into a work of wearable art. It’s almost as if the design was already there and all I did was discover it. My work has been described as Bauhaus inspired and has a Germanic boldness.
Many customers bring their family silverware to me to create heirloom pieces. The rich history of this silver has special meaning and connections to those who wear it.
Even my tools have a history. One pair of pliers I use are the very same pliers that my mother used. As an eight year old boy, I would watch her craft a sterling ring or some other piece of jewelry. Even at that age I was intrigued by the process and fascinated by these special tools.
Decades later, I found these tools while going through her personal effects. I opened “the box” and rediscovered the magic these tools still held for me. That’s when my new journey began.
I read, studied and taught myself silversmithing while realizing the joy of creating lasting memories. I still use many of her tools and the pair of pliers I watched her use touches nearly every piece of jewelry I make.
“My Mother’s Rings” collection is made using seafood forks and an appropriate birthstone.
Another line, the “Fork in the Road” collection, was inspired by a friend who commissioned me to make a piece for her mother. It turned out her mother was just diagnosed with breast cancer. The fork I used to make the pendant became a symbol of my friend’s mother’s “fork in the road” moment as she chose to be a cancer survivor.
I am now making bracelets for veterans working with leather and yes, the silver from forks. Veterans especially have their own “fork in the road” moments. If I can bring a bit of hope, inspiration and a reminder that they are not alone, I feel I’m doing something important.
Whether I’m using a family’s vintage silverware to make an heirloom wearable piece of jewelry for a daughter or granddaughter, or providing a bit of hope or inspiration to a cancer survivor or deserving veteran, I feel as if I’m doing something purposeful.