Everyday classics that seamlessly blend with your curated closet, Silver + Salt jewelry is handcrafted in Seattle. Bringing together recycled metals with rough-cut semi-precious gems, each piece has a unique feel that’s part of a fresh, minimalist aesthetic.
We sat down with owner and designer Christine Heidel to learn more about the inspiration and ethos behind the label.
Q: How long have you been designing jewelry and what led you to starting Silver + Salt?
A: I started experimenting with jewelry in late 2013. At the time, I was working as a consultant in the technology field. While I enjoyed my work, I felt drawn to a creative career. I wanted to work with my hands. So, I decided to teach myself how to make jewelry. It took me a while to find my niche in metalworking. In January 2015, I took a leave of absence from my consulting firm and I have been 100% dedicated to Silver + Salt ever since!
Q: Where do you seek inspiration? Are there particular influences that inform your designs?
A: I seek inspiration in nature. My designs are not necessarily based on things you might find outside, but my creative ethos is based on the idea that there is exceptional beauty in things that are unique and even imperfect. I feel that this concept is best exemplified in nature. I am the most open to ideas and inspiration when I spend time outside. I love using raw, untreated gemstones because they allow every piece to be one-of-a-kind.
Q: You’re also a photographer. Does that shape your work in jewelry, or do you see them as distinct parts of your life?
A: Photography has been a part of my creative heart and soul since 2009. I love it as a way to express and elicit deep emotion. When I want to spend some time in my own head and create a story, I turn to photography. It’s an extremely personal art form for me that makes me feel especially vulnerable. I don’t always find it easy to live in that space, which is why I realized I couldn’t make photography my business. I wanted to keep it as a form of expression that could come and go. I’m grateful for the days when I feel inspired to create photographs. Truth be told, however, Silver + Salt takes up most of my time, so I don’t always have the opportunity to make art through photography anymore. I know it will always be there for me, though. When the time is right my camera and I will reconnect and tell beautiful stories with light.
Jewelry is a different form of expression for me. It’s more immediate and more tactile. I work instinctively when I am at my bench. I like the feeling of starting with raw materials – sheet, wire, stone – and creating something that can be worn and that can make someone else feel good. I get a big thrill anytime someone purchases my work and I love thinking about all of the pieces of Silver + Salt jewelry that adorn my customers as they go about their daily lives.
At my core, I’m a creative person, but I’ve never been the type of person to feel satisfied with just one form of expression. I love learning new ways to create.
Q: Do you have a favorite gemstone to work with? What’s your process for selecting materials that are both stunning and ethical?
A: I’m a huge, huge fan of Herkimer diamonds. They aren’t diamonds at all. They are a type of quartz crystal that is mined in the Hudson River Valley in New York and are close to 500 million years old. I love using them because they are found right here in the USA. The process of mining for Herkimer diamonds is clean. In fact, you can go camping in New York and join a tour to mine for your own Herkimers! They come out of the ground with 2 points, 18 facets and a ton of sparkle, which means they don’t need to be processed, cut or polished.
I do my best to partner with suppliers who are committed to environmentally friendly practices. I look for gemstones that have been ethically mined and minimally processed. I use recycled metals and often find myself using my own scrap metal to create new, one-of-a-kind pieces.
Q: As a small business owner, you have a strong connection to the local community here in Seattle. Do you have any advice for budding entrepreneurs who are looking to make their mark?
A: I think the most important thing is to just be true to yourself. I make jewelry that I, myself, would wear. I believe in it and that makes it so much easier for me to put it out in the world. In the age of social media, it’s so easy to see what everyone else is doing and to allow that to influence your ideas and your direction. Early on, I spent time experimenting with a lot of different styles and techniques, but over time, I have become more comfortable with my own voice and I have been able to focus on creating pieces that are true to that voice. It’s a process! Expect success to take time. Work hard, don’t give up and always be yourself!
Shop the Silver + Salt collection.