I may be biased, but Maricha Genovese’s creations are the epitome of fine jewelry. Maricha is not only a talented artist, but she is also one of my dearest and oldest friends. Her designs never cease to amaze me and I am obsessed with the juxtaposition of delicate and edgy they portray. Her pieces serve as daily adornment and are meant to reflect timeless personal style. This sentiment makes my heart flutter!! I sat down with my dear friend to pick her brain and learn her process!
How did you decide or know you wanted to be a jewelry designer/creator?
It was a somewhat gradual decision in that I’ve been making things my whole life. It’s the only thing I’ve always done from a very young age and part of who I am. Once high school hit and the decision of where to go to college came up it really got me thinking about “making” being such a constant in my life. I attended a “portfolio day” hosted at Pratt and that is where I really felt that I should continue on my path and go to an art school. I think the reason I ended up in Jewelry/Crafts is because of my interests in miniatures, nostalgia, functional art and the significance and magic surrounding jewelry.
What has your early career looked like?
Lots of learning and exploring! I learned so much in school but the traditional way to learn a craft like silversmithing or goldsmithing is by apprenticeship. I didn’t apprentice, per se, but I like to think of all the jobs I had working for other jewelers as such. The jewelry world is so far reaching and there are so many avenues you can take and so many skills to be learned so, to me, working for others was a great way to learn and practice new skills as well as learn how to run a business! Now that I’ve created my own business, I have so much respect for those that I’ve learned from.
What inspires you to create such unique and beautiful pieces?
As I mentioned earlier, I went to an art school so I have a background where craftsmanship is one of the most important things. I am inspired to create really well-crafted pieces that will last and become heirlooms. Most recently in my work I have been thinking a lot about humans’ connection back to nature in a world where technology is king and how we must make a real, conscious effort to unplug and have a relationship with the world around us. My recent work looks to honor the natural world. I am also inspired by the shapes, moods and themes of Victorian era jewelry.
What is the most challenging part of your career? What are you most proud of?
Speaking of technology being king… one challenging part of my job is finding the clients who appreciate handmade and slow skill in this fast-paced world. Like I said, there are many avenues for jewelry and while quickly-made, trendy pieces are fun and generally inexpensive, I believe very strongly that there is also a place for pieces that are timeless, meaningful and unique. This is what I aim to make and this kind of jewelry certainly takes heart, skill and time to create. I think my custom pieces would be what I am most proud of. Collaborating with a client in order to create something they love and is uniquely made for them is something I really love. Some of my custom work over the last few years has been one-of-a-kind engagement rings and handmade wedding bands and to be included in something so meaningful like that is so special.
Walk us though the process (without giving away too many secrets) of creating a custom ring?
My custom process begins with a meeting, phone call or email chat going over your ideas, inspiration, expectations, hopes, and dreams for the project! I like to go over things like your ideal price range, material choices, deadlines, sizing and especially your vision for the finished piece. The whole process can be very collaborative! Next, I take these notes and move onto designing where I provide about 3-5 hand-drawn sketches so I can show you my plan for the piece. Once you choose a final design, I collect a deposit before I begin sourcing materials and making your jewelry. Depending on my plan for construction, I’ll either carve the piece in wax and cast in metal or fabricate from scratch using sheet metal and wire!
What advice do you have for someone wanting to start their own business?
Definitely be ready to learn and be adaptable. Sometimes you’ll need to reassess decisions you have already made and ask “does this still make sense?” If not, you need to adapt. Prepare to make mistakes but learn from them and chalk it up to experience; try not to be too hard on yourself. You’re going to have to wear a lot of hats, especially in the beginning, so make note of things that are really energy draining for you and those can be the things you can outsource first when you get there. Try to organize a streamlined system for getting things done not only for your own sanity but also for future employees – this way the transition should be smoother when you can hire help!
What is one thing people would be surprised to know about jewelry design?
I don’t think many people know how things are actually made! When I explain how I make something from scratch (carving in wax and then casting, or fabricating and soldering flat sheet metal and wire) people are usually surprised. We’ve become used to mass production and purchasing items from a store and not really thinking about where it came from or how it came to be. I like to use my Stories on Instagram (@thetinyjeweler) to show everyone my process of how I handmake my jewelry and people love it! I’ve gotten some great questions from that content as well. I think people are really interested and appreciate the “behind the scenes” look.
Tell me more about The Tiny Jeweler’s motto – “tiny works for personal adornment”
The “tiny works” refers to the pieces that I make in that I see them as miniature art pieces that live on the body. I can’t come from an art background and not see them that way! I’m very much into detail and I put a lot of care into all the things I make, no matter how tiny. And as for “personal adornment”, I want to convey that these pieces don’t particularly follow trends; I’d rather make something timeless that you resonate with in your heart, that you have a strong feeling for and want to bring into your personal collection to express yourself.
How do you see The Tiny Jeweler growing in the next 5 years?
I’ve certainly considered opening a store at some point where people can come to experience, learn about and buy handmade jewelry. It would be fun to teach some workshops within the store so people really know what goes into making jewelry. It’s possible in the next 5 years- we’ll see! I’ve just recently moved into a new workspace that, while not a retail storefront, has a small space we’ve converted into a showroom. I’d like to treat it as a tiny store/gallery where we can have events and shows as well as a space to work with clients on custom designs, expanding my custom work portfolio.
Where can everyone find your work?
To see what I’m working on and my daily jewelry life you can find me on Instagram as @thetinyjeweler. To shop you can find me online at thetinyjeweler.com or visit my work in person at Heidi Lowe Gallery in Rehoboth Beach, DE or at Love & Luxe in San Francisco, CA (for the west coasters!). You can also email me at email@example.com for an appointment or visit at my studio if you are in the Philadelphia area.
Favorite piece of jewelry…
I think my favorite piece of jewelry is a lion ring that my mom wears which belonged to her great uncle; it is a gold ring depicting a lion head with two small diamonds in the eyes and a ruby in its mouth. I love it for two reasons… My mom is a Leo so it is fitting and my brother’s birthstone is a ruby. I love that heirloom pieces become significant to each wearer as it is passed down, each time adding to the story of the piece. The other reason I love this ring is because we almost lost it once… One of the reasons I am drawn to jewelry is because it often has an air of mystery and magic around it; many stories incorporate jewelry or personal objects which have magical powers. At the beach one day, my mom lost The Lion Ring in the sand; when she realized it was gone we searched and searched but after a time we had to give up and go home. We tried to take note of where we were sitting and figured maybe we could try again later. We never thought we would find it again amongst all those grains of sand but after dinner we did go back and lo and behold, we found it! Or did it find us…? I still can’t believe it to this day.
Go-to breakfast to power you through the day…
I love some fresh fruit, yogurt and granola! Since fruit isn’t always in season, over the winter I started prepping some perfectly boiled 8 minute eggs for the fastest easiest breakfast – just cut the egg in half and add a little amino acids (alternate for soy sauce) and you’re good to go. Sometimes I sauté some spinach or kale on the side if I have time. Oh, and coffee or green tea!
Favorite Instagram accounts to follow…
One of my favorite accounts is @ashleylongshoreart. She is a hilarious, vibrant painter who really gets the Instagram game! She’s so funny and really inspiring for artists, always encouraging us to do our best and advocate for ourselves. Another account I’m obsessed with is @lacitymunicipaldancesquad. They are a female dance team/club in LA providing general life inspiration, showing off their love of dance with some awesome unconventional dance moves and encouraging women to lean on each other for support, love, and fun. If you’re feeling low, take a peek and I bet they’ll cheer you up. Also if any ladies around Philadelphia want to start a chapter, you know where to find me now!
Check out Maricha’s tiny and beautiful treasures! I can attest to the love, craft, and sweat that goes into every creation!!
Photography by Olive & Oak and Josh Barker