Juliet Dobosz is a jewelry designer who creates beautiful and intricate necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and rings using an array of stones, metals, and more. Juliet hand-crafts jewelry that essentially doubles as artwork. Self-described as a “custom wire sculptor,” Juliet crafts pieces for both men and women.

Juliet discovered her passion for making jewelry twelve years ago after she retired and decided to take up a hobby. The “hobby” of making jewelry quickly became a passion that resulted in the creation of a business. Juliet creates earrings, bracelets, pendants, rings, “name pendants,” and even “birthstone jewelry” that she crafts using sterling silver or gold-filled wire.

For many years Juliet has been a proud member of the Huachuca Mineral and Gem Club and every year she exhibits as a vendor at their Mineral, Gem and Jewelry Show which is held in October. Every year, Juliet also makes a point to set up a vendor stand at various gem shows within Arizona as well as Silver City New Mexico’s Grant County Rolling Stones Show. Juliet also custom-makes individual pieces of jewelry upon request, and she advertises this service at all of the shows she attends.

Juliet has won awards for her work, and one of her Australian Opal pendants was featured in “Wire Jewelry" Blog in 2011. In 2013, Juliet donated jewelry to a benefit that honored the memories of nineteen “Granite Mountain Hotshots” who perished while fighting the infamous Yarnell Hill wildfire which occurred in Northern Arizona.

For this occasion, Juliet created a “Garnet Cross” that symbolically featured nineteen individual Garnet beads that represented each of the people lost to the fire.

Recently, Juliet granted an exclusive interview where she discussed her jewelry, her experiences, her inspirations, and more.

Stones, beads, crystals, and inspiration

Meagan Meehan (MM): How did you initially get interested in jewelry and when did you branch out to become a designer?

Juliet Dobosz (JD): I have always enjoyed wearing jewelry but the first time I thought about making it myself was in 2006 when I was retiring from my full-time job. My husband and I were rock-collecting enthusiasts, and we had managed to accumulate a ton of rocks in the process.

Some of the rarer finds went into our collection and some of the prettier rocks, we cut and polished into cabochons. It became a necessity to find a hobby that could make use of those which is when I discovered the art of wire-sculpting jewelry. At first, I watched free online video classes, later purchasing some ‘how to’ DVDs. At the time, I had no idea where this would lead, but within a few months, I had graduated from making pieces from the tutorials to designing and making my own jewelry.

MM: What styles most inspire you and which materials and stones do you most enjoy working with?

JD: Personally, my favorite style to wear is big and bold, and that is reflected in my work…I tend to work more with cabochons than faceted stones as they lend themselves to this style.

However, I do make jewelry with faceted stones as well, including a line of birthstone jewelry, and those are usually a more traditional style. When I work with cameos, the effect is usually more Victorian. I use different metals including Gold-filled, Argentium©, Sterling Silver, and Copper. My favorite is 14Kt. Gold-filled, as it wears well, doesn’t tarnish, and it can make the colors in certain stones really pop. Also, it is more affordable to work with than 14Kt. Gold! I also like Argentium© as it has no copper in it and thus is tarnish resistant and it is easy to work with. There are so many wonderful stones available to work with that it is difficult to say which are my favorites, but I do love Moonstone because of its incredible flash.

MM: Some people say that certain stones have special powers, do you ever consider that when crafting your pieces?

JD: I do feel that it is important to recognize the healing properties that crystals have and the metaphysical powers of different stones! They have a definite effect on the wearer. However, I mostly select cabochons for their unusual patterns and shapes, so that I can Design really unique pieces of jewelry with them. I do believe that people are drawn to buy certain pieces of my jewelry because of the properties of the stones, and I will provide a write up of those stones’ effect on the 7 Chakras.

MM: Many of your designs are very intricate. So, how many techniques do you use to show metal and/or cut stones?

JD: Living a fairly short commute distance to Tucson, I make a point of attending the famous Gem & Mineral Show there, every February. There are always a wide variety of classes in different jewelry-making techniques to choose from, and I try to attend several each year. Some of the methods I have learned include enameling, cold-forging, wire-weaving, some silversmithing, working with PMC (Precious Metal Clay) and Bronze Clay and some beading techniques. I use cold-forging quite extensively as shaping the wire with a hammer can enhance certainly shaped stones, and the result is simple yet elegant…I have customers who seek me out for this kind of wrap. I have also begun fusing certain kinds of wire and silver-soldering, but I am still perfecting these skills.

I have discovered I do not have the patience to do bead-work as it is tedious to me. Somehow, I always seem to revert to my first love, which is creating settings out of wire.

Making, selling, and establishing a presence

MM: What kinds of pieces do you most enjoy making and which sell the best?

JD: I think I get the most satisfaction out of the pieces I make with the stones that my customers bring to me to set for them. Often, it is a stone with a tremendous emotional significance to them, and they have been waiting to find the right person to create a setting to show it off. Each has a story to tell about how they got it, who gave it to them and how long they have been holding on to it. Sometimes the stone was one out of another piece of jewelry; sometimes the giver has since passed on, and sometimes they have been holding on to it for years.

One of my customers brought me two faceted gemstones that her late husband had given her and she had been holding them for eleven years before entrusting them to me. Each piece offers an opportunity for us to revisit the special story behind their keepsake, together, and gives me a great sense of purpose as I create their unique jewelry. Apart from that, I most enjoy making my more intricate pieces with the more interesting stones, but they don’t necessarily sell the best. I really never know what is going to sell at a particular venue, but I have noticed that I sell more sterling silver items than anything else, probably because silver is a pure metal wire and less expensive than the gold-filled.

MM: Typically, how long does it take you to complete a piece of jewelry?

JD: That depends on the complexity of the project I have undertaken. Some more repetitive projects like birthstone rings, take less time than an elaborate pendant or a bracelet. I probably spend less than an hour total on measuring, cutting, cleaning the wire and making a birthstone ring, whereas some pendants take me several hours from the time I draw up the design to the finished product. Some bracelets will take even longer.

MM: How did you establish yourself in the jewelry industry and how did you find success selling your work?

JD: I guess the process was gradual. I started by wearing the jewelry I made when I was going out in public or to social gatherings.

Friends would buy the pieces I was wearing, and then they started asking me to make special pieces just for them. I was also a member of our local mineral and gem club, so it was a natural progression to become a vendor at their annual show, and eventually, I applied or was invited to become a vendor at other shows around the state. I also list pieces on the internet but the shows are the most successful way of getting my jewelry displayed, and I enjoy the face-to-face contact with my customers.

MM: Your daughter, Wendy Shepherd, is a well-known publicist. Do you think to have a PR-savvy daughter helps popularize your jewelry?

JD: In some ways, yes…she has been very helpful in giving me advice on how best to publicize my jewelry on social media and the internet in general.

I try not to take her help for granted though as I know how busy her life is. I am immensely proud of her accomplishments and the fact that many people count on her for professional publicity.

MM: Is it tough to be a professional Jewelry Designer and what advice can you offer to people who want to start their own jewelry companies?

JD: It is very tough…the market is saturated with thousands of designer-jewelers, and each one of them is vying for sales in the industry. Initially, there were very few resources available for aspiring jewelry designers, but now there are all kinds of video tutorials on every conceivable technique. Because of that many, more people are entering the field. My best advice would be: develop your own unique brand; always wear your jewelry – you are your own best advertising; know when to take a break and walk away from a project; never give up; and when all else fails…try again!

At my business, Jewelry by Juliet, I am constantly updating my inventory with new pieces using the techniques I have recently learned. I also feel that social media is vital to my business and have active Jewelry by Juliet pages on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, as well as my website of the same name “Jewelry by Juliet.”