After two years in the Emerging Artists tent, and last year’s Emerging Artist Best in Show award, Rachel Zolotov recently made her first solo appearance at the popular St. Louis Art Fair. This local jewelry designer combines vintage pieces with high-quality additions like gemstones and pearls. Ladue News caught up with the artist after her successful show to find out more about the woman behind the designs.
How would you describe your collection to someone who hasn't seen it before?
I would describe my collection as vintage and antique jewelry upcycled with hand-woven pearls and natural gemstones. I give new life to old pieces by intricately weaving them with pearls on silk thread to create a wearable piece of art.
Who do you picture wearing your pieces?
I picture women beyond age 30 wearing my jewelry. My pieces range from casual to special occasion wear. Although some of them look intricate, they are very durable and can be worn every day – I wear my pieces daily, even with two little ones running around!
Your collection has a vintage vibe. Where do you find your inspiration?
My collection incorporates vintage and antique pieces into every design. I have always loved antique jewelry and I wanted to find a way to pair my antique brooches and pins that I never wore with my hand weaving. I realized that I wasn’t the only one with family pieces tucked away in the jewelry box, and I knew I had found my niche.
Could you explain the process of an item – say, a necklace for example – from start to finish? Is there a system, or do things happen more organically?
The process for each piece is slightly different, but for the most part, I start with the vintage or antique piece and use it as my base. I pair it with matching pearls or gemstones and sketch out some ideas on paper to come up with a final design. I take my inspiration from antique jewelry styles, as well as new fashion, and come up with a piece that is timeless and trendy at the same time. For instance, my latest necklaces are a take on the French tassel sautoirs from the early 1900s.
Tell me a bit about your work background. How did you get into this field? How long have you been designing jewelry?
I attended the Gemological Institute of America in Carlsbad, California, and graduated in 2005 with degrees in graduate jewelry, graduate gemology and applied jewelry arts. I went on to further my education in Austria for hand engraving. I have always loved jewelry and have been sketching jewelry designs since I was a child. My parents are in the jewelry business, so I grew up with it.
This was your first solo appearance at the Saint Louis Art Fair. How did it go?
This year was incredible, and I enjoyed sharing my passion with St. Louis. I had a great show, and I hope that I will be back next year.
You balance your work with parenting – how do you find time to tackle it all?
I have two little girls – 4 years old and 5 months old. They keep me very busy and active. I get my work done when the girls are asleep. When people ask me how long it took me to complete a piece, I usually tell them how many “nap times” it took.