Jewelry serves many purposes, from a means to accessorize to a way to cherish the ones that came before us. After losing my mom to cancer several years ago, her jewelry reminds me of her and allows me to make a fashion statement as a personal nod to my own style. Although, I had always yearned for a piece that felt as much like my own as her jewelry did to her.
Balefire Goods made that dream a reality.
Nestled in a square less than 10 miles outside of Denver is Balefire Goods, home to an eclectic collection of jewelry. With collections crafted by over 55 total artists from around the world including 37 jewelry artists and 24 local artists, the Arvada-based gallery is sure to have something for everyone. However, the gallery’s ability to refurbish and craft jewelry from hand is what sets it apart from other local jewelers.
Balefire Goods pieces, including those that are custom-made and those sold in the studio, are defined by a unique sense of art deco and beauty. Owner Jamie Hollier is drawn to gems that make a statement – sapphire, turquoise and aquamarine to name a few. Alongside studio manager and goldsmith Baleigh Acebo, Hollier handcrafts jewelry that serves as the focal point for even the most decorated personal jewelry collection.
When I brought an array of pieces from my mom’s collection to Hollier and Acebo, I was hesitant about altering anything that already held sentimental value. But I wanted something different that would resemble my own style while giving me the heartfelt remembrance of my mom whenever I wore it. I wanted to uphold her legacy on my own terms.
I trusted Balefire Goods to create something that I would cherish forever. From start to finish, the process left me feeling giddy rather than nervous about the outcome. When I returned to the gallery to pick up my ring after weeks of anticipation, I was certain that I made the right decision.
From a Stone to a Design
As an extremely indecisive person, I can barely decide what I’m going to have for dinner on a given night. So when Hollier asked me what I imagined my new jewelry piece to look like, I gave my usual answer – I’m flexible.
Hollier is used to working with clients like me who would love any and every piece she makes. She’s also worked with individuals who not only know exactly what they want but are familiar with the jewelry industry enough to give her instructions on every step of the process. Therefore, we decided to let the stones guide us, which is often where the custom process begins.
“A lot of times the stones we’re working with, they have an innate aesthetic of themselves,” Hollier said.
I brought several options, but sapphire huggie hoop earrings and sapphire studs stood out to both of us immediately. As my birthstone, sapphire has a sentimental value and versatile beauty that would match any and everything.
During the initial consultation, clients submit a $250 deposit to begin the custom process, which is applied to the final price of the piece. At this stage, Hollier and her clients discuss design ideas. Whether they are making a custom piece or remounting a piece with existing jewelry, it is important that the client trusts their jeweler during this step of the process and moving forward.
“Find a jeweler that you trust,” Hollier said in regard to custom-made pieces. “It’s about having a shared design aesthetic.”
With custom designs and remounts, clients are often nervous to kickstart the process. Especially with jewelry that holds sentimental value, it is difficult to imagine the final product. Therefore, the relationship between a client and their jeweler is crucial.
“Find a jeweler that’s willing to spend time with you to educate. That you can ask questions, you can learn about the process you can learn about the materials that are not just trying to make something and get you out the door,” Hollier added. “This should be a fun process of co-creation, so find a place that feels like they get you.”
Many feel intimated by the idea of remounting an existing piece of jewelry to create something new. After all, jewelry can be one’s most precious or sentimental belonging. However, remounting an existing piece can give new life to jewelry and expand on the sentimentality of the piece itself.
“Jewelry shouldn’t be intimidating because generally, it’s symbols of the most important things in our lives,” said Hollier. “It’s pieces made from previous pieces we have from loved ones, or from memories we have that we’re remaking or new memories we’re forming. It’s anniversaries and birthdays and graduations and weddings and memorial pieces.”
Once inspiration or a specific idea for the piece is decided upon, Hollier inputs the customer’s and the stone’s information into a system that helps her track the process from start to finish. The Balefire Goods team created their own system to match the needs of their business and their clients. Then, Hollier takes photos of the pieces and begins working on flat designs.
Hollier sent me four initial designs to choose from that embodied the art deco goal that we discussed. With little knowledge of the jewelry industry, I found myself making a decision based on the appearance of the design. However, Hollier helped me narrow down a design with her expertise.
“The design on the left below is a little more low maintenance (as prongs need checked and worked on more often than bezels) and also sits a little lower so it is a tad easier to wear. It is very art deco inspired,” she mentioned in an email with the photos of the designs. “The design on the right will take a little more maintenance with the prongs and it sits a bit higher on the finger so a little less easy to wear (like for putting hands in pockets it is more likely to catch).”
With Hollier’s advice in mind, I felt confident in my decision and chose to move forward with this design:
Hollier proceeded with the process by sending me a 3D rendering of the design that I chose. She used computer-aided technology (CAD) to create the design and represent it from all angles. Retailing at $3,540, she would disassemble several pieces from my mom’s jewelry collection to create a ring with sapphires and diamonds in yellow gold.
By sharing both flat photos and the 3D rendering with her clients, Hollier avoids any discrepancies and promises that what they see is what they’ll get. Every custom piece is made on-site in the Balefire Goods gallery, making the custom process personalized from start to finish.
Behind Balefire Goods
While there’s immense value in owning a piece of jewelry that will withstand the test of time, Balefire Goods is home to a collection with something for everyone. Aside from custom and remount work, the gallery offers a variety of unique and sustainable jewelry crafted by artisans across the globe. With an emphasis on sourcing gems sustainably and uplifting artisans, the Balefire Goods collection is versatile and robust.
“We think there’s a total place for the jewelry that’s meant to last and the jewelry that’s meant to be of the moment, those both have value,” said Hollier. “We want to be a place where you can come and get your wedding ring and your anniversary gift and a graduation gift for your niece that you don’t actually know that well anymore but you can still feel comfortable about all those things.”
The Balefire Goods team has established an ambiance celebrating art and creativity while welcoming clients with open arms into a space that feels congenial. The group of women enjoys each other’s presence while also prioritizing their work and every client that walks through their doors. The warm environment of the Balefire Goods gallery helps establish a sense of trust between the client and their jeweler that is necessary for the outcome of a custom or remount piece to be enjoyed by both the wearer and the maker.
“Jewelry should be a positive experience because it’s about the most important stuff in our life and if you’re not in a place that’s making it welcoming, find somewhere that is,” Hollier emphasized.
Aside from the work within the gallery, Balefire Goods strives to give back to the community as well. The team chooses a local nonprofit to support for a three-month period to which a percentage of the gallery’s proceeds will be donated to. The current nonprofit is The Cure Starts Now, a grassroots organization striving to raise funds and awareness to fight cancer, specifically childhood cancer.
The beauty of every Balefire Goods piece indicates the mission behind the gallery and the work of Hollier and her team. Remounts like mine are created with love and attention to detail, assuring a final product that will serve as an heirloom for the wearer.
“The reason we’re all here is because we love this as a form of expression and art and so that should be shared,” said Hollier.
The Big Reveal
After much anticipation, Balefire Goods informed me that my ring was ready. The second that I saw it, I knew that my decision to alter my mom’s existing jewelry to create something of my own was worthwhile. Hollier and Acebo took into consideration everything that I shared with them and created something that I will cherish forever.
I had sized my finger for the ring in cold temperatures and picked it up in sweltering heat. Therefore, the ring didn’t quite fit on my finger initially. Acebo resized the ring right then and there, ensuring that I would return home with the piece that I had so anxiously awaited.
The Balefire Goods team also provided me with care instructions to preserve my ring. As a custom client, I can take my piece to Balefire Goods for free cleaning at any time, which is essential in making sure that the piece is preserved to its full longevity. Additionally, they offered advice on how to care for my ring on a daily basis, including removal during hand washing and any strenuous activities, and simply using an old toothbrush with soft bristles and some dawn dish soap with a closed drain to remove and dirt. Even this step of the process was comforting for me as I have never been informed on proper cleaning techniques for precious jewelry pieces.
My ring is my new addition to my daily routine as it matches any outfit, just like I had requested in my initial consult with Hollier. While its wearability is great, the sentimentality of the piece is what means the most to me. Every day, I can put on my new ring and remember my mom. She was my best friend, my hero and my fashion inspiration whose voice lingers in my head every day, reminding me to believe in myself and to follow my dreams. This physical reminder of her solidifies my love for my mom, and I can thank Balefire Goods for allowing my connection to my mom to blossom in the form of a ring that will always serve as the statement of my jewelry collection.
Learn more about custom and remount jewelry, the Balefire Goods team and the eclectic gallery by visiting their website. Check out Balefire Goods’ Instagram page for more custom work and gallery offerings.