Weiss adorns fans with one-of-a-kind jewelry creations 

Tracy Haun OwensOur Town Leaders

When Jessica Weiss took her first metalsmithing class, at The Penland School for Crafts near Asheville, she hadn’t yet envisioned the “casually elegant” jewelry that she would create in the next couple of decades. But as soon as she started working the pieces of metal, she thought, “I have to do this.” Knowing nothing yet about making jewelry, she knew it was what she was meant to do.

“I figured it out,” Weiss says with a smile. “It took a long time.”

Jewelry maker Jessica Weiss

Weiss, who graduated with a studio art degree from the University of Tennessee (she studied drawing), waited tables for eight years before devoting herself full-time to her jewelry business. She jokes that she sometimes sold necklaces off her neck to admiring customers. Today her work is sold at her own storefront and at shops from Blackberry Farm to Aspen, Colo. She regularly shows at some of the country’s best fine art shows, including Webb School’s ArtXtravaganza. This spring, she was in the juried Smithsonian Craft Show, one of the most exclusive gatherings of artisans in the country.

Jessica Weiss Jewelry & Studio is in Bearden Shopping Center, 5805 Kingston Pike. Inside her cozy storefront, her jewelry beckons from glass cases. There are necklaces of slate with embedded diamonds, the oblong slate rimmed in 22K-gold. It looks heavy and feels light. She hammers sheets of gold over silver and imbeds precious stones into oversized cuffs. There are also delicate, flowing necklaces of aquamarine or quartz and structural wire earrings. There is a selection of leather bags, which her mom has been making. Behind the counter is a work area packed with wires, metals and gemstones.

Specially cut slate embedded with diamonds for a necklace that looks heavy but feels light

Many of her customers are return buyers and others hear of her by word of mouth, but she likes having a shop for those who want to meet her or see her work in person.

“And I like having a studio in the shop,” Weiss says.

She isn’t far from the first place she sold her work, Bennett Galleries. Weiss’s parents, Tom and Debby Weiss, were old friends of the Bennetts, and she approached the gallery with a few pieces. They sold out. There were other local milestones: Kristi Ogle, of the boutique KRISTI, began carrying her, and she participated in her first booth show at the Rossini Festival.

Although valuable for her business, festivals and shows are the most difficult part of what she does. First, there’s the time she spends away from her husband, Jason White, and their “two pitbull children.” As a self-described introvert, she says it’s also challenging to meet crowds all day, which is why she is hiring someone to help her in the booth at future shows.

A diamond-studded cuff in 22K bimetal, which is a sheet of gold fused to silver, creating a durable statement piece

Her work is always changing, which is part of its appeal to her fans. Lately she finds herself working with bigger pieces and working more with high-karat gold. She also turns heirloom pieces into new creations for her customers, incorporating the piece and its stones into an original work by Jessica Weiss. She’s grateful for their trust and appreciation.

“I have an awesome customer base,” she says.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *