6 1/2 Minutes with Rachel Atherly


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You meet a stranger on an elevator who admires your jewelry. What’s your 5 second elevator introduction to describe your business? 

I tell them my collection is all handmade using precious metals and gemstones. It is inspired by nature and created using green practices and ethically sourced materials.

What are your design influences? 

I love this incredible world we live in. Mother Nature is the ultimate designer. I just borrow from her cues and boil down the elements to highlight lines, patterns and shapes that catch my eye.

Most exciting piece of jewelry in your current collection?

The Caviar Earrings and the Stingray Collection have resonated with so many people. I can’t deny that I am totally taken back and very humbled by the response I have received from these.

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Caviar Earrings                        

Burrito or Pizza?

Is there such a thing as a burrito pizza? Because there is no loser in this battle, I think the combo sounds amazing!

How important is design in society?

Can you imagine a society without good art and design? Sounds like a very depressing place. As humans we are drawn toward things that are visually pleasing. I guess design is right up there with the golden rule for me. Be nice and enjoy pretty stuff!

How important is designer jewelry versus generic jewelry?

There is room for everything. Designer jewelry is incredibly important, but so is costume/generic jewelry. Jewelry allows one to express themselves in a way that nothing else can. The wonderful thing about designer jewelry is it is built to last and be passed on from generation to generation. It connects us with our ancestors in a way that no other object can.

What is the signature in your jewelry design that makes your jewelry immediately recognizable?

I play with stones, shapes and patterns in a way that ties my collection together. Everything is rooted in nature but is just a nod in the direction of its inspiration. Customers usually see a multitude of things in the pieces making my work the Rorschach of jewelry.

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Fishbone necklace.

Your go-to karaoke song?

Thank goodness for everyone else’s sake I don’t have one. I have the absolute worst singing voice ever.

What one tip would you give to a sales person who is selling designer jewelry for the first time.

Listen to the client, look at how they wear their hair, clothes and jewelry and help them find something that is unexpected to them. Also have an idea of something they might like in a variety of different price points. They might love the beautiful gold earrings that are just a bit out of their price range, but will probably go home with something just a little easier on their wallets. Don’t worry, 9 times out of 10 they eventually save up and come back for those gorgeous gold earrings.

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Stingray pendant.

Where is your studio located?

In the Hudson Valley region of New York.

What’s your spirit animal?

The Jackalope! Yep I am a strange mythical creature that makes sense and totally doesn’t all at the same time.


A Jackalope.

A person (living or dead) that you’d like to have coffee with?

Antoni Gaudi. I would really like to thank him for leaving such a gorgeous and playful mark on the world.


The Sagrada Familia nave roof detail. By Antoni Gaudi

Besides you of course, who should people follow on Instagram? (Could be jewelry or non-jewelry)

Anne Street studio. If you don’t follow her please do. Her feed is so enjoyable. Her photos have an essence of Renaissance paintings. She is unbelievable. Also Ellen Jewett! She has changed my life. Her small-scale sculpture and paintings are so intricate, they are beyond mind blowing. Seriously! You must check out her Instagram.

Never Have I Ever:
  • Worn plastic earrings? Oh absolutely! I still have some cheap pieces that I owned in my early 20’s when I could hardly afford anything fancier than ramen.
  • Eaten fried insects? Nope. But I love new experiences, so I won’t count it out as a future possibility.
  • Had a pet? Many pets. Currently we have two old cats and a sweet little Cavapoo. But my list of past pets is pretty long. I grew up on a small-scale family farm and simply adore animals. If I didn’t go into the arts in college my other interest was in becoming a veterinarian.

WHO WOULD YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION BE WITH: RACHEL ATHERLY X?  Oh man that is difficult to say. I guess there are so many designers that I admire, but I think I would choose someone whose aesthetic is dramatically different from mine. Suzanne Kala comes to mind. I love her work. Together we could create something quite special.

WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO (BUSINESS-WISE) IN THE NEXT THREE TO SIX MONTHS?  I had such a great 2017 that I am hoping to continue riding this amazing wave. I am really excited about the new pieces I am working on. I will give you a little teaser, it is all about feathers…

Feather Full Bird Earring

New 'Feather Full Bird' earrings.

Rachel Atherly will be exhibiting at the American Craft Council Baltimore Show, Feb. 21-25, 2018. 

Rachel's website is rachelatherley.com 

Her Instagram account is www.instagram.com/rachelatherleyjewelry