Times were different for the 17th Street Farmers’ Market in 2004. Maryellen Kim remembers because that’s when she started to make artisan jewelry and sell it there. “Back then,” she says, “the market was hopping and I would almost sell out each week.”
These days, in addition to her studio in Chester, her Twist Style Jewelry can be found locally at Lola Pepper in the Fan and at the Shops at 5807, along with 50 or so other places across the country, including such prestige outlets as the Baltimore Museum of Art and the Princeton University Museum of Art.
“But I’m most excited to send work to a lovely shop called Silver Line Jewelry Art in the town I grew up in,” she says. “Swansboro, North Carolina.”
An inveterate collector with a judicious eye for the potential of her finds, she focuses on acquiring faceted stones and interesting cabochon settings for small mosaic pendants. Her extensive collection of vintage jewelry helps her to stay focused once she’s ready to design.
“I love vintage pins and antique jewelry,” she says. “Sometimes to reuse, but sometimes just for design or color inspiration.”
Using old Czech glass buttons, she fashioned luminescent pendants that were featured in Country Living magazine. A bracelet of freshwater pearls with a lace medallion, part of the baroque collection, fastens with a simple button. An old-school treasure necklace has a vintage look with a clover key, antique lace and a tiny, decorative metal pine cone as the focal point of a beaded piece.
“Stones and crystals and freshwater pearls are just so deliciously interesting in color and texture and finish,” she says. “I like for my jewelry designs to be reminiscent of the beach. Blue and green and sandy taupes are staples in my designs.”
Kim’s love of the beach extends to using it as impromptu work space, along with the deck, the car and sometimes, even the studio. “I truly love that I can do my work virtually anywhere,” she says.
One thing she doesn’t do much of is custom work. “I just have too many ideas that I’m trying to work on myself,” Kim says. “Plus, my product line is really quite extensive so I feel there’s often something that’ll work when folks are looking for something special.”
Those ideas keep her busy making the jewelry she envisions in her head. “I prefer artisan style and truly handmade works that’ll last and become the true classics,” she says.