“Every piece of jewelry tells a story,” says master goldsmith Stuart Adelman. And at Artelle Designs, owned by Stuart and his wife Ellie Adelman, it’s especially true. Stuart has been designing and creating custom jewelry for over 40 years. Jewelry has an emotional pull, says Adelman. We’re all heard stories about family members who stopped speaking to each other because they both wanted to inherit grandma’s wedding band or grandpa’s watch–and only one of them got it. [On a personal note, I can attest to this—my sister and I are still upset that a second cousin got our grandmother’s ring—during the Nixon era.]
Adelman’s craft is using precious metals and gemstones that are not only beautiful—they tell stories, express love, and sometimes even heal emotional hurts.
Stuart came to his love of making jewelry early—his father was a retail jeweler and Stuart worked for him. When he was a teenager, he found a piece of jeweler’s wax in his garage and carved a dolphin out of it. “I’ve been hooked ever since,” he says. Ellie Adelman has veto power over the designs.
“If she doesn’t like it, it doesn’t get made,” he says. “I design with Ellie in mind. I think about what she would like.”
The Adelmans answer our questions about jewelry and custom design.
What kind of work do you do most often?
Stuart: Custom work. Clients often bring a bunch of old pieces in—maybe stuff from their grandma and mom, and they want to transform it into something they’ll wear. Sometimes they know what they want; sometimes they don’t. I can get a good idea of someone’s taste in about 15 minutes by showing them photos and seeing what they like.
I’ve made just about every kind of jewelry—corporate jewelry, jewelry for sororities. I made a pair of glasses for Prince.
The one thing that has to happen with every piece—they have to love it!
What are your favorite stones?
Stuart: To work with–pearls. They’re so versatile. With other stones, the shape of the stone determines the shape of the design, but pearls will fit with anything. In general? Colored diamonds. You can’t go wrong!
Ellie: Opals. They’re my birthstone.
What are your favorite metals?
Stuart: Platinum. It’s harder to work with than gold because it’s denser, but it has a nicer, “stickier” feels that holds stones better.
Ellie: I like green gold.
What is green gold?
Stuart: Pure gold is orange. 14-karat is made with gold, silver and copper. If you take away some silver and have more copper, it’s rose gold. If you have more silver and less copper, it’s green gold.
What’s trending in jewelry right now?
Stuart: Raw stones. They’re more free-form. And a lot of people like the organic nature of them. With raw stones, you can get more pieces without breaking your budget. Layering is hot—wearing multiple chains. We’re also seeing daintier pieces. Less ostentatious is the trend, even for people who can afford anything they want.
Ellie: Rose gold has been very popular for a couple of years and is still popular. Oxidized silver is big, and so are mixed metals.
What’s the most interesting story behind a piece of jewelry you’ve made?
Stuart: There are so many! A mom had us create a necklace for her daughter of piranha teeth that her daughter had found on her travels. Another memorable one—a client’s mother-in-law passed away. There was one diamond ring and two daughters. The client had the ring duplicated so that both his wife and her sister could have one.
It’s clear that jewelry isn’t just a business for the Adelmans. With their passion and level of craftsmanship, it’s no surprise that Artelle has been voted Plymouth’s favorite jeweler many times over.