Inspired by the Sea

The Jewelry Studio of Wellfleet creates custom pieces with seashells, seaglass and hand-selected gems

Text and Photography by Catherine Malcynsky

I’d always thought, If I ever have a shop, I’d want one like this,” says Jesse Mia Horowitz, referring to the little green building at #15 Bank Street in Wellfleet. Here in the Jewelry Studio of Wellfleet, Horowitz’s finished work on display is immaculate: gold chains draped over driftwood and silver spirals balanced on seashells in the long glass display cases. The vibe of the room is beachy, yet delicate; one feels inclined to proceed with wide eyes and soft steps.

Horowitz’s personal life coexists with her work life and the evidence is everywhere: a coffee mug, a pair of pliers, a notebook, reading glasses, hand lotion and a set of keys are among the items intermingled with her tools of the trade—loops of wire, silver shark teeth, hand-selected gems.

Born in New York City, Horowitz moved to the Cape with her family at age 4. Over the years, within Wellfleet’s supportive community, Horowitz’s artistic passions began to take hold. After taking jewelry making classes at the Creative Arts Center in Chatham, she received a BFA in jewelry design from UMass Dartmouth. When she returned to the Cape, she debuted her work at local shops and with her own stand at Wellfleet OysterFest, where her designs were met with overwhelming enthusiasm.

Primarily working alone (her sister helps with polishing and runs her own line of gem necklaces, also sold at the studio), Horowitz divides her time among assisting customers (including custom orders), making pieces and scouring the shores of nearby beaches for the perfect sealife specimens. Many of her pieces are sterling silver or 14K gold castings of real seashells, crab claws, shark teeth and other treasures that she then makes into earrings, necklaces and rings. To supplement her own beachcombing, several local oyster farmers she knows are always on the lookout for the ideal shell.

“Perfect oysters are hard to find, because when they are young they don’t have a lot of pretty ridges and definition,” says Horowitz. Oyster charms are some of her best-selling items, keeping in theme with the historic shellfishing town they come from. Starfish are also popular. Instead of molding materials into the general shape of a starfish, Horowitz offers her clients the exact form of a real, individual starfish that might have been found on the shores of Truro or lying on a sandbar in Eastham. “A piece like that is often a gift, or memento of a vacation or special weekend,” says Horowitz, “and it is so rewarding to know that my jewelry brings people joy and helps create memories.”

These classic, sea-inspired designs appeal to a wide range of customers and sell wildly throughout the summer months. In the fall, Horowitz says the OysterFest gives the Jewelry Studio “one last great blast” before business becomes more weekend-driven until Christmas. Horowitz’s shop is open year round and products are also available on Etsy. The jewelry maker uses her off-season downtime for inventory and to sketch new designs. This winter, Horowitz looks forward to experimenting more with precious materials, such as gold and diamonds, in addition to her usual silver, seaglass and wampum. Crafting each piece is time-consuming, especially for her signature “wave bracelets.” There is also an important spiritual element to her work.

“I like the jewelry to flow around the body, as if it were the water,” says Horowitz, who draws inspiration from the Cape’s ocean tides. “Balance and weight are very important to me; the heavy gauge wire has been forged and formed to mimic the movement of the ocean, and I incorporate these shapes into many of my designs. I am very sensitive to the curves and bends, and spend a lot of time getting them just right.”

The Jewelry Studio of Wellfleet, 15 Bank Street, Wellfleet,
508-349-2284. Follow the Jewelry Studio on Facebook.

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