Meet the Designer: Christy Natsumi of Christy Natsumi Jewelry
Theres so much to love about Christy Natsumi's work! After getting started with jewelry making in DC, Christy has since moved to the West Coast, and built her namesake brand. We're proud to carry her designs in the shop, and to share her timeless pieces with our customers. Read more about Christy, and shop her pieces here.
Photo credit: Ryan Leggett
How did you get started making jewelry?
I used to live in Washington DC and my first experience with jewelry making was at a beading class at a shop near Dupont Circle! At the time I felt I needed a creative outlet and break from my premed/psychology studies. I moved up to my first metalsmithing class at the Torpedo Factory Art Center (Alexandria VA) at the suggestion of a friend. After moving back to the west coast, I continued to train here until I gained enough confidence to start my business. When I used to live in DC, there weren’t many jewelry stores that focused on small designers. It’s such a full circle moment for me to work with Shelter and share my art along side other wonderful makers.
Did you always know you wanted to be a designer?
No, being a designer and jewelry artist is something that found me. I always knew I wanted to do something that would contribute to the well being of others (hence the premed/psych studies, both professions I quickly learned that I am completely unsuited for!). While I know that jewelry is not life or death, it can have deep meaning for the person wearing it, sometimes for their future generations. I’m very conscious of this and really try to create pieces through my business that have a strong focus on celebration, of honoring milestones, and have durability both in design and construction. It also informs my desire to support vendors through my small business that have a commitment to treating the people and the land involved in sourcing precious materials with respect.
How long have you been in the trade?
Almost 12 years! In many ways I still feel like a newbie and in other ways I feel like I have always been doing this. As a cool side note, I have ancestors in Japan that for generations were carpenters that built temples. I only recently learned that there were some who actually switched to making jewelry at the turn of the 1900s when they could no longer support themselves through their original trade. I so wish I could see their workshop and the pieces they made, but I feel like I can speak to them through this strange mixture of building, spirituality, and creativity across time.
Do you have a favorite piece that you have made?
The piece that is the most recently finished is usually my current favorite! At the moment I’m working on some personal pieces that I’m very excited about. One is an engagement ring for my brother and soon to be sister-in-law. The other is a redesign of the first ring that my dad gifted my mom when they were dating. It’s super meaningful for me because multiracial couples like them were not common when they first met. I love that the ring represents the energy of their love for each other over any societal or family expectations. The components of the ring have seen better days, but I’m hoping to give it fresh life as a necklace.
What’s your favorite piece of jewelry from your own personal collection?
I'm lucky to have many pieces that are very meaningful, but I really cherish a small diamond ring from my grandmother. She never got married, so decided to buy herself this ring after one of the first successful years she had after starting her business. She gifted it to me around the time I started my business and I find strength in it when I’m faced with difficult days in my business.