I never thought that my curiosity about jewelry blogs would have taken me so far. I have met and read and interviewed so many interesting people, all from different backgrounds with the same confluence – jewelry. After all, the art of adornment goes back to the prehistoric man when shell beads were made to be used as a personal ornament.
Erika’s journey into the world of jewelry is fascinating. It was triggered by her future husband’s proposal; she became enamored with the symbolism of the ring and desired to learn more about all of it – and the rest, as they say, is history.
Josette: You have been an editor at Price Scope for almost five years. I am a big fan of your forum; I think it’s a great platform for the consumer and Mark Patterson has been featured and debated there a few times. Have you ever participated in a forum discussion as an arbitrator? Have you ever been prompted to write a blog post on any discussions in your forum?
Erika: First, thanks for visiting the forum! Pricescope is a unique site in that we bring together jewelers and consumers for active discussions on our forum. Our aim is to facilitate this dialogue but without any promotion from jewelers, so our members can speak freely and share their purchases and advice. We have a great forum moderator who keeps discussions in check. We don’t censor conversations, but we do keep things civil and encourage “polite” discussion. Do discussions get heated? Absolutely! Our Pricescope members are passionate about jewelry, and passion is a good thing! But “family friendly” language is encouraged, and personal insults or attacks are a no-no. It’s a forum, so debate is par for the course—and it can be both educational and entertaining!
About 4 years ago, I launched the Pricescope Jewelry Blog (http://www.pricescope.com/blog) to diversify and deliver topical content to our community members. (Pricescope garners roughly 500,000 unique visitors per month.) My official title is director of communications, but I also manage all educational and contributor content (outside of the forum) and write the blog. I cover jewelry shows and love doing designer features. I also do a weekly blog pulled right from the forum called “Jewel of the Week” to showcase our posters’ jewelry pieces. I also love to examine trends on Pricescope vs. larger market jewelry trends. Pricescope consumers represent a niche “prosumer” group, so they really know what they want. And that includes engagement rings, as many women on Pricescope are selecting their own designs, and some are contributing to the purchase. So some of my blog posts examine the social factors that affect jewelry purchases and how people wear their jewels—like this one: Women – Do You Take Off Your Engagement or Wedding Rings to Advance Your Career? http://www.pricescope.com/blog/poll-women-do-you-take-your-engagement-or-wedding-rings-advance-your-career
Josette: We could say that theater, dance drawing and photography are all intertwined and that we can draw inspiration from each one. Did your career in the performing arts influence the way you design jewelry and what prompted you to design a bridal collection?
My career in theatre and dance absolutely influences my jewelry designs. A colleague described my engagement rings as like “a ballerina in mid twirl.” That was so lovely, as the rings have presence but also have this airy and light quality. Dance and dancers will always inspire me, as they embody precise movements with supple organic forms.
I designed my first bridal collection (http://www.erikawinters.com/) after a colleague asked if I’d like to design a line for her new online store. It’s funny, after getting my G.G. in 2008, I wanted to design more than anything, but I needed to learn. So I worked in retail, and then I started writing about jewelry and studying design in earnest over the next several years. So when my colleague approached me about designing, I was ready to go. I needed that push—that impetus—to foray into design. I designed my first collection of 12 engagement rings in about 3 weeks in November 2013. We launched the first four designs in February of 2014, and 8 have been produced so far.
Josette: Photography plays a big role in what you do, you take pictures of your own jewelry and others. How and why did you get started?
Erika: I do all of the photography for my bridal line. And I’ve shot retailer and designers’ jewelry for my blog and for their websites. Much like with designing, when I’m shooting jewelry I’m in my element—I can shoot for hours and it feels like no time has passed at all. I have an obsession with light and capturing diamonds, gemstones, and metal in multiple lighting environments. I also love a challenge and love to shoot in not-so-ideal lighting situations—like at the jewelry shows. At JCK and Couture, for example, I move from booth to booth and have about 20 minutes tops to shoot multiple pieces in some of the worst lighting imaginable. Every booth has different lighting! I don’t see it as a negative, though, as I love to find creative ways to bring jewels to life. I try to offer a different perspective on jewelry photography—that showcases the pieces naturally—without the usual white background and high contrast.
My work in theatre influences my photography as well—it’s all about the light, the presence, and the movement that you can feel, though the images are static. I’m self-taught. I’ve worked to develop a style over the last seven years. I started by shooting my own personal pieces. I’m always trying new things. It’s a process, and the discovery is the best part.
Josette: Looking at what you have accomplished so far where do you see yourself in a few years?
Erika: I see myself designing more collections and continuing to shoot jewelry. I’m in the initial developmental stage for a new (non bridal) line, and I’m starting to do custom design work. I love writing about jewelry too. I’ve always done creative work, and so it will continue to evolve.
Thank you, Erika, for sharing your story. Through your work, I can see how much you love what you do.