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Dec 26 2014

Doing It!: Catching up with Portland’s ethical jeweler Valerie Kasinskas

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from our photoshoot with VK Designs, for the “Dark Sparkle” collection

An interview with Valerie Kasinskas from VK Designs

I’m a big fan of VK Designs–in fact, I look at something Valerie made every single day. How come? She made the wedding rings for my wife and I! Valerie’s unique style really resonated with my wife’s elegant and naturalistic style, while being simple enough for me.

We at Upswept Creative thought this made a great excuse to catch up with Valerie, Portland’s ethical jeweler, and see what she has been working on since our photoshoot together, as well as getting some more insight into how she got started.

Q: How did you get started making jewelry?

VK: “I studied and received my BFA in Metalsmithing in 2006. I studied everything from blacksmithing to goldsmithing and worked both large and small for quite a few years. Little by little, the sculptures got smaller and smaller. In the last 5 years, I have been focusing more on the smaller scale and creating mostly custom, bespoke engagement and wedding jewelry.”

“While in school, I began questioning where the metals and materials were being sourced from in the year 2001 and found very few answers. Over the years, I began digging deeper and slowly building a network of trusted suppliers and like-minded jewelers. I am proud to work closely with a wonderful group–Ethical Metalsmiths. We are continually working towards educating, sourcing ethically and transforming the industry.”

Q: What are a couple of your favorite pieces that you’ve designed?

VK: There are so many pieces that I just adore that it is hard to pin down! Each piece is custom, personal and such a strong symbol that represents the client in a visual way. I recently created a custom wedding ring set for a couple, using Fairmined gold from a mine that I work directly with in Peru, and even had the honor of visiting this same mine last year. (You can read about the experience here.)

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Custom 20k Fairmined gold wedding ring set by VK Designs

My clients had traveled in Peru together, and the significance of being connected to and knowing where the gold was from was very important & powerful for them.

Q: What you feel is unique about being an independent jewelry maker in Portland?

VK: I feel that Portlanders really are not typical consumers on many levels, and that also includes their desire for meaningful and personal jewelry. I work with many clients that have very unique and beautiful styles, styles that we infuse into their symbolic jewelry that they are proud to wear. Portlanders are inquisitive and want to know where their food comes from, as well as where their gold comes from!

I am proud to have the most amazing, aware, and creative clients.

Q: What’s next for you and your jewelry line?

VK: I am very excited to continue sourcing ethically, creating one of a kind pieces and want to create more with Fairmined gold and Fairmined silver in 2015. My co-designer (and twin sister), Rachel and I will be featuring Fairmined silver designs in our 2015 line for the Dark Sparkle Collection in 2015 as well. For more info about Fairmined metals, visit fairmined.org.

 

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