Kate Maller Brings Sustainable Fine Jewelry to the Highlands

Denver jewelry designer, Kate Maller, recently opened her first brick and mortar, multi-branded store in Denver. Maller — known for her unique jewelry design and sustainable efforts — also welcomed other nationally recognized artists into the store. Together, these designers and artists craft and sell one-of-a-kind jewelry, ceramics, bags, scarves, shawls, candles, oils and cards. Focused on sustainability, these artists ferociously support the environment and social justice and pull inspiration for their designs from such attributes. Here, the extremely talented Kate Maller discussed everything from the jewelry making process to her first-ever men’s jewelry line.

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303 Magazine: What prompted you to open a multi-branded jewelry store in the Highlands?

Kate Maller: Having lived in the West Highland neighborhood for almost four years, I knew from the start that I wanted my store to be in this general area. It was good fortune that a space on the highly coveted West 32nd Avenue stretch opened up, as my home and studio are within walking distance. I truly feel this neighborhood is reflective of my brand’s values and sensibilities, so I felt it was the perfect spot to open my first brick and mortar and share my vision. It all felt very serendipitous!

303: What atmosphere and environment can Kate Maller customers expect when walking in the store?

KM: Kate Maller Jewelry has a unique, edgy-yet-refined feel with a relaxed, warm environment. This is definitely not the feel of your traditional fine jewelry store. I wanted to create a real neighborhood vibe where people feel comfortable and are encouraged to pop by just to say “hi” and see what’s new. Kate Maller Jewelry is offering a curated selection of jewels, goods and art that I truly love and want to share with others. With these intentions in mind, I purposefully selected the opening lineup of artists and products to help establish us as not only a jewelry store, but also a boutique where our neighbors could seek out unique, high-end, well-crafted goods for gifts and for themselves. 
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303: In addition to uniquely hand-crafted jewelry, you also feature sustainable goods from talented artists around the country. Can you tell us about how that collaboration between artists evolved?

KM: My dream has always been to have a space where I could not only feature my own work, but also highlight and share the work of other artists that I love and admire. Over the years, I have been fortunate to exhibit at many shows where talented artisans from across the country were also exhibiting. This has allowed me to not only meet many artists I already admired but also discover many new artisans from a variety of disciplines. Having always dreamed of opening my own store, I already had a strong sense for who I would want to carry. This made putting the opening lineup together fairly simple. Many of the artists we carry we also call friends, and so we are extra thrilled to be bringing their work to the area, many of which for the first time.

303: How do you feel your products relate to Colorado residents?

KM: Having lived in Colorado for over 12 years now, it is very much home to me. The landscape, people, weather and general vibe very much resonate with me and have since the first year I moved here from Boston. I know that many of my core beliefs are shared by others in Colorado, as well. My passion for the environment, a high level of craftsmanship, attention to detail, and supporting local artists and small businesses are shared by many others here. Additionally, my Kate Maller Jewelry brand has a strong market and following here in Denver and has enjoyed a great reception in the area since its inception. These factors all lead me to believe that our products and vision will greatly resonate with Colorado residents.

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303: Can you explain the process of how you make your jewelry?

KM: My process is unique in a number of ways. First off, I am committed to only using raw materials that are ethically sourced. This means that all of my jewelry adheres to the highest standards for sustainability in jewelry making, and I use only reclaimed metals and reclaimed or fair-trade diamonds and gemstones in my jewelry design. Additionally, every piece of Kate Maller jewelry is made entirely by hand in my studio here in Denver. The level of craftsmanship is unusual by today’s jewelry-making standards. Each piece is hand-fabricated in the Denver studio. No outsourcing, no pre-made components (with the exception of delicate chains) and no casting or computer-generated designs. Every jump ring, clasp, and pair of ear wires is individually crafted in-house. Efficient? No, but hand-craftsmanship imbues each piece with a unique character that the clients truly love and appreciate. Entirely hand-fabricated jewelry is much harder to find these days. I feel that the art of metalsmithing, and it’s time-honored traditions, are worth celebrating.

303: Do you have a specific theme or aesthetic consistently utilized during the design process or do you have individual and separate inspirations for every collection or piece?

KM: As mentioned, I design and release two full collections each year. All of the Kate Maller Jewelry collections are designed around a theme, often reflected in its name, and almost always inspired by my love of traveling, art, design and nature. Stylistically, all of the lines merchandise well across collections due to the brand’s distinctive look, which creates an overall aesthetic consistency. All of the jewelry’s linework is made from high quality recycled 22k gold dust, which I alloy myself, solid 18k gold, and oxidized Argentium silver. This black and gold aesthetic creates a look with a great range. It can be dressed up or down easily, which is perfect for us Coloradans.
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303: Can you tell us a little about how your jewelry brand features sustainable items?

KM: Sustainability is the core guiding principle at Kate Maller Jewelry. All pieces are handcrafted from high quality recycled 22k /18k gold, and recycled Argentium silver. I source not only conflict-free but also fair trade diamonds. Additionally, all of the diamond melee (small accent diamonds) is 100% reclaimed, and nearly all is VS quality (aside from our Radiance collection, which is comprised of salt and pepper reclaimed diamonds). In addition to sustainable material sourcing the brand as a whole is committed to implementing business practices that reduce harmful impacts to the environment. I am always looking for ways to improve our sustainable business practices. Currently, Kate Maller Jewelry employs the following initiatives:

  • Recycled Argentium silver
  • Fairmined and recycled gold
  • 100% conflict-free and fair trade diamonds
  • 100% Reclaimed diamond melee
  • Materials sourced from local and US-owned businesses
  • Recycled and recyclable packaging
  • Eco-friendly printing practices
  • Non-toxic studio chemicals, whenever possible
  • Recycling and composting at our studio

Kate Maller, Cheyenne Dickerson, Giacomo Di Franco, 303 Magazine, 303 design, 303 designer, Highlands, The Highlands, sustainability, sustainable, jewelry, Denver jewelry, Denver jewelry designer, Denver jewelry design303: Why was it important to have sustainable pieces in your collection?

KM: My background is in sustainable architecture and landscape architecture. A longstanding passion for environmental and social justice has shaped my commitment to sustainability. It stems back to when I was in my undergraduate studies for architecture in Boston. I found I was deeply concerned about the environment and I knew that I wanted to change the world for the better. I geared my education, and professional pursuits, towards all the green initiatives that I could. I also became a LEED-certified professional to pursue making buildings as green as possible.

When I began metalsmithing and started to build my business, I knew I wanted to carry those values through. I knew I couldn’t source materials or employ business practices that were harmful to the environment. My main objective starting out was to figure out how to establish reliable sources and practices that would be sustainable. I must say, it was not easy. For instance, I recall asking people who had been in the business for decades, and were masters of their craft, but they could not tell me where or how to get sustainably sourced gemstones. Environmental degradation and social justice are major concerns when it comes to mining and extracting the raw materials that jewelers use. For me, sustainability is an ethical concern not only in my business, but in my life, and it is something that has been very important to me for over 15 years.

303: You have a first-ever men’s line. Can you discuss the importance of having a male line?

KM: Kate Maller Jewelry has a distinctive look, which resonates with both men and women. While I had made men’s custom jewelry, I was consistently being asked to design a dedicated men’s line. It was something I really wanted to do for quite some time, so it’s very exciting that our first-ever men’s line is launching in the new Fall/Winter line, “The Slice Collection.” In today’s society, more and more men enjoy adorning themselves, so I think having a designated line specifically designed for them with an appropriate scale, weight and a unique perspective was really important for the brand.

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Kate Maller is located at 3450 West 32nd Ave. Denver, and is open Wednesday through Friday  10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

Photography by Giacomo Di Franco

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