The demand for wearable art continues to grow.
By Kate Hull
A diamond ring that signifies commitment, a belt buckle that represents heritage, or a one-of-a-kind arrowhead necklace that shows personal style—jewelry attracts a wide range of admirers. In Jackson Hole, galleries and stores feature notable collections and celebrated designers, representing a market on the rise.
Dan Harrison, owner and jewelry designer at DanShelley Jewelers, has spent four decades in Gaslight Alley, a branch of Town Square now known for local artisan shops. For over forty years, he’s grown alongside the fine art jewelry market, watching visitors, galleries, and trends change and develop.
“Jackson has a wonderful collection of designers expressing their own ideas,” he says. “It is a very rich community when you think about how many designer jewelry stores there are offering original designs versus other comparable [art communities].”
Visitors and residents alike can take a piece of the art world home, to adorn only on special occasions or wear every day.
Jewelry sales in the United States totaled $66.5 billion in 2015, according to Edahn Golan Diamond Research & Data’s state of the market report.
Jackson represents a cross-section of the broad fine art jewelry market with a sampling of many varieties. There are fine pearls, Native American pieces, contemporary and abstract designs, and Western collections depicting both past and present. The items found in galleries and retail stores throughout town.
DanShelley Jewelers offers collections ranging from Western bracelets with the Tetons etched in sterling silver to modern earrings with rare gems found in the Intermountain West.
Thanks to a knack for business and a desire to create, Harrison added more contemporary collections over the years to reflect the ever-changing trends, as well as different price points to provide a wider range of options for patrons.
“We live in a global environment and people from all over the world visit Jackson,” Harrison said. His gallery features different styles and prices to accommodate a visitor hoping to capture a scenic view of the Tetons or take home an interesting design. “We try to acknowledge all our visitors to the area.”
The desire to adorn oneself gives fine art jewelry a unique place in the art world. Admirers can gravitate to what speaks to them and then walk around in it.
“From a historical perspective, we look to jewelry for insight from cultures that are ancient or already gone,” Harrison said. “Jewelry has this special quality when you think of it as an artwork with such longevity.”
Part gallery and part retail shop, Pearls by Shari offers rare fine quality pearls fit for a gallery, as well as bracelets and necklaces perfect for gifts and mementos, including the popular Teton Mountaineering Bracelet with freshwater pearls offered for less than $30.
Nearby, galleries like Native Jackson Hole, Tayloe Piggott Jewelry, Horizon Fine Art Gallery, and many others keep their pulse on the jewelry market representing notable designers like Elena Kriegner, Monique Péan, and Lilly Barrack, respectively.
Native Jackson Hole was opened in 1983 by Safaa and Jim Darwiche under the name A Touch of Class. Native JH is the western-focused sister shop to the original gallery that now features more contemporary-focused jewelry lines like Swarovski, Pandora, and Ani.
Inside, manager Kathy Morgan showcases artists and designers that capture the West, both past and present, with wearable pieces “as unique as the person wearing them,” she said.
One of the gallery’s most popular artists, Calvin Begay, designs jewelry that is as intricate as a painting, with fine cut stones put together to create vibrant necklaces and earrings with a Southwestern flair.
Morgan said patrons are always on the lookout for a statement piece that reflects their style.
“Whether you’re known for wearing an unusual pendant or for wearing big earrings, people tend to be attracted to the things that speak to them,” Morgan said.
A Calvin Begay statement pendant perfect for a special night out, a DanShelley bracelet to remember your time in the Tetons, or a string of rare pearls to compliment any occasion, fine art jewelry in Jackson is approachable and continuing to welcome new talent and exciting styles.