Re-Imagined Heirlooms

Stacey Krantz Creates Unique Jewelry That Brings New Life to Old Treasures

By Jeanne Blackburn | Photography by Turner Photography Studio | Posted on 04.15.19 – In the Studio, Lifestyles

For more than 20 years, Stacey Krantz has been creating custom jewelry. Three years ago, with the help of Katie Urquiza, studio manager, she opened her InBloom Studio in Braddock Heights. Most of the pieces she makes are her own designs, crafted in the studio and combining gold or silver with gemstones of all varieties. Inspired by nature or her own imagination, each piece is one of a kind.

But some of the jewelry items she designs and creates have a different beginning.

Beautiful old brooches, an heirloom engagement ring, an earring with a missing partner… most women have treasures like this in a jewelry box somewhere. They’re lovely, have heartfelt memories attached to them—and yet they sit in the dark, not being enjoyed by anyone.

Krantz’s talent is to breathe new life into these family treasures and to re-imagine them as a pendant, pin or ring, creating and then executing the design, making them wearable and relevant to those who own them now.

As creative and technically capable as she is with the tools of her craft, it was not her first professional path, although she was always drawn to design. The Frederick native initially was a social worker, and she also did a stint in the Peace Corps instructing and coaching women in self-sufficiency and entrepreneurship in the Central African country of Gabon. After that, she worked with children on a Native American Pueblo. “I realized I could figure out anything,” so the seeds of entrepreneurship were planted.

“I was inspired to learn metalsmithing while in college and began to teach myself basic skills. By the time I graduated, I knew I wanted to continue the work full time and start my own business,” she says. Primarily self taught, she says she learns best by diving in and gaining practical experience. Her formal art education included the Maryland Institute College of Art Jewelry Center, then workshops with masters in the fields of stone-setting, wax-carving and most recently hand-engraving.

Her studio is the juxtaposition of elegant display space and rough-and-tumble work space where she creates new jewelry art, as well as re-designing the older, sometimes vintage, pieces. It’s the latter that often gives her the most satisfaction—on many levels.

“It’s combining design and service,” she says of the thoughtful, multi-step process she employs to combine seemingly disparate items of jewelry and create a piece that’s not only wearable to the owner, but a memory-filled keepsake, as well.It’s a synergy between her skills and interaction with human beings to create something meaningful that’s “the inspiration and gets me up and moving,” she explains.

“Typically, people come in with a little bag of inherited things—earrings, pins—they see something they like [at InBloom] and want to use the pieces they have for a similar design,” Krantz explains.

In many cases the inspiration comes from the assembled pieces themselves or the client’s vision. Krantz’s job is to create something stunning, using bits and pieces from these family treasures, combining them into one wonderful piece that will now embody all the personal memories these treasures hold for the owner. She approaches every re-design with care and respect. In a way there’s a bit of fear that goes into the design process. “I don’t want to take someone’s special things and not design a piece that doesn’t honor the owners,” she says.

Being fully aware of the sentiments attached to such pieces, she works towards a finished design that’s personal to each item—be it for a birth, an anniversary, marriage or special occasion like Mother’s Day.

The first meeting is for information gathering. Krantz has an “idea board” in the studio for inspiration and to help with the client/designer communication. Based on the client’s vision and her own design sense, Krantz creates a sketch or wax carving based on the metal and stones they want to include in the piece.

This kind of collaboration is necessary, Krantz says, “for them to feel part of the process—connected to it all the way.” If necessary, the client will come back a second time for a wax or model review to be absolutely certain of the design. Depending on what materials clients bring with them and what they want, they sometimes pay nothing. “We use the gold and the gems—and the leftover gold pays for the creative effort and design time,” Krantz explains.

And when the piece is finished? “There’s always an emotional reaction,” she says. “I have Kleenex boxes on hand just in case.” But they are always tears of joy, because the piece then becomes love in a physical, wearable form.

Krantz is always amazed at how emotional clients do get during the process. Fortunately, she feels that they are comfortable in her studio and gallery space. “There’s no stuffiness. It’s really warm,” she says.

Being involved with a client to this level is a definite factor in Krantz’s love of what she does. “It becomes personal to some degree,” she says, “and that makes it something special.” She and the client are collaborating in the process of taking memories and creating a lasting tribute to people who have had relevance in their lives. Often the piece that is created takes on a new life.

Her creative imagination sometimes takes wing without the inspiration of someone else’s treasures, and those are the pieces on display in her showroom. Working with gold or silver and gemstones of all varieties, this area of her work reflects a decidedly contemporary feel. Some of her more recent pieces are even sculptural, incorporating jewelry into wooden decorative accessories.

Reflecting back on the collaborative efforts, she gratefully states “I get to make people happy for a living. There’s real magic in that.”

Clients would argue there’s a good bit of creative energy in it, too.

See more InBloom designs at www.inbloomjewelry.com.