For this week’s creator spotlight, we would like you to meet jewelry designer Abby Sparks!
What was the inspiration behind becoming a creator? What do you enjoy most about the creative process?
I love jewelry, it has such a soul. It represents who we are at our core. I started designing it as a child, when my grandmother would give me beads and trinkets she had collected over the years. But despite all of that, I hated going into jewelry stores and feeling judged. I started Abby Sparks Jewelry because I felt like the jewelry industry was broken.
And so, I created the anti-jewelry store, with nothing for you to buy and only things to muse about and make. I never want to tell my clients what design they “should” like or push my aesthetic onto them. Each piece is inspired by my client — what they love, the aesthetic they like, their story. I opted for a design studio instead of a traditional store because I believe that each one of us is one-of-a-kind, totally magical, just as we are…and our jewelry should reflect that, especially for the big moments.
If our clients are the inspiration for the story, then I am the writer, the painter, the poet… the person who actualizes their story into a tangible piece of art in a way they might not have been able to on their own. So, while each piece of jewelry that leaves my design studio is completely unique and one of a kind, there is my very own sense of creation and artistic flair in each and every piece. This is my subtle contribution to their story, an underlying artistic tone that holds each piece of jewelry to a certain standard of quality, creativity, and craftsmanship. That is what I love most about my creative process.
Can you take us through your creative process? How long does it take? Does everything you produce make money?
It has taken me a long time to be able to scale my business and to capture in words and processes how I discover the best designs for my clients. It can get pretty deep. I get to know my clients on a real level, and I ask the hard questions. I need to know what makes you YOU, and what makes up you and your partner’s special “zing.” It’s way more than round diamonds, halos, and prongs. I want to know about your values, your lifestyle, your passions, your story. Only then can I curate jewelry around your deep and intimate story.
If someone comes to my business and I believe they are a fit for what we do, then they start a five-step design process alongside us. From start to finish, this process takes six to eight weeks. First is a design meeting that lasts about an hour. This is where we learn about who the jewelry is for, what makes them special and what this jewelry will mean to them. We learn what kinds of shapes, colors, metals, and gemstones they like so that we can start designing.
From there, we’ll take all of our client’s inspiration, ideas, and specifications and bring them to life on paper, with a critical eye toward durability, timeless design, structural integrity, and staying within their budget. They will receive 3-5 sketches initially, and we’ll go through feedback and revisions until it’s exactly what they envisioned.
It’s important to note that we responsibly source stones for each individual piece based on design, ethics, desired quality and budget. At the next meeting, clients get to see, feel, and hand select each stone that goes into their ring.
When the design is finalized we’ll engineer the design into a 3D CAD model. We take the 3D concept to metal and make a casting of the jewelry. We hand set the stones, add any handcrafted details, polish the ring and finally the design is complete.
The client will come in for a 30-minute meeting to pick up the jewelry. We talk about care and cleaning, provide an appraisal, ring insurance info, and documentation on stones. The jewelry is complete and meant to last for a lifetime and more.
What do you think is the biggest misconception about your line of work?
When people think of the jewelry industry they think of the stereotypical big box jeweler that is trying to make you spend a lot of money and doesn’t care about sourcing ethical stones. People also are stuck in the mindset that a man has to buy the engagement ring for the woman and that it has to be this enormous surprise because he is supposed to just magically know what she wants.
In addition to entering the industry with ethical sourcing practices and custom client experiences, I came into the world of jewelry challenging industry norms. One of those norms I am working to break down is that women have to just accept the ring they’re proposed to with. Or that women have to get a diamond solitaire ring just because it’s what their mom, their grandmother, and their sister did. If solitaires are your thing, then go for it! No judgement here! But my point is that I want it to be okay for people to be more comfortable with speaking up and voicing what they want, instead of silently complying with norms their heart doesn’t agree with.
I like to ask my clients, “What would your dream ring look like if there were absolutely no limits?” I think it’s an important question because for some reason a lot of us will take things off the table because we think it’s too much or too weird or too over the top or too simple or not possible. There are some people who don’t care what the ring looks like because it came from the person that they love. But other people do care and they want to find a ring that still has every part of their partner in it, but also reflect who they are.
Your engagement ring is the one thing that you’re going to be wearing every day, for the rest of your life. That’s pretty huge — not even your favorite pair of jeans gets that much wear. So, it’s important to make sure it’s something you really love. I want to change the industry norm that an engagement ring has to be a big secret, and one just has to hope that their partner can figure out what they like. People aren’t mind readers and we always encourage couples to have an open and honest conversation about getting engaged, and even about what elements they would like to see in their engagement ring. I want to give people, especially women, the permission to follow their hearts and be themselves in an industry where that can sometimes be frowned upon.
When did you first become aware of copyright, and why? Have you experienced copyright infringement and, if so, how has it affected you personally and financially? What do you do when you encounter someone stealing something you’ve invested your intellect, time and money into?
One of the more frequent issues my company experiences in regard to copyright is people stealing our social media content and then reposting it without our permission and claiming it as their own. When we come across someone using our content as their own, we report it right away to whatever platform posting on. This usually takes care of the issue and can help prevent that person from using our content again.
We’ve also started taking precautionary measures like adding our Instagram handle into some of our posted photos so that they cannot be so easily reposted without giving us credit for the work. We’ve especially started doing this on our sketch photos on Instagram because they are often reposted without our consent.
So much of modern business is conducted online, and that is where most of our clients learn about us. It’s very important that when people use our content they give us credit and link to our website.
What is the best piece of advice that you would give other creators in your field about copyright and how to protect themselves?
For creators, sometimes it is more difficult to see their services or creations as something that needs to be covered by copyright because so much of it is intangible. However, the time, energy, and creative brain power that goes into our creations is worth protecting and worth fighting for. Don’t be afraid to put things in place to protect your intellectual property, because it is just as valuable as any tangible product or service. Make your expectations and policies known to your customers or clients right from the beginning so that there is no confusion down the line. If people aren’t willing to abide by your policies then they aren’t the right fit for your business.
Are you one of our Individual Creator Members? Participate in our Creator Spotlight series! Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you aren’t already a member of the Alliance, you can join today by completing our Individual Creator Members membership form!