For nearly 40 years, Shinola Jewelry has been the premier spot to purchase fine jewelry on Orcas.
At the beginning of the new year, owner Vance Stephens will be hanging up his jewelers’ loupe – at least in his current location.
“I’m grateful for the support that local people and visitors have given me over the years,” he said. “I’ve found that people appreciate the face-to-face contact with the maker and appreciate something that’s handmade.”
Stephens will continue to create jewelry out of his home studio and sell inventory or meet for a consultation by appointment at 360-376-4508 or 360-317-4115 after Jan. 31. Before he closes on Jan. 1, silver items are 30 percent off.
Stephens grew up in California and moved north to attend Washington State University.
“I’ve always been interested in artistic things, and I started out as a rock hound and then just sort of fell into being a jeweler,” he said. “I had some help from experienced jewelers, and I learned a lot on my own.”
Stephens originally came to Orcas in 1972 to visit friends and opened Shinola in Eastsound a few years later.
“The advantages were obvious: a showroom and a workshop in the same place,” said Stephens.
He started out working in silver but now creates pieces mainly with gold, precious metal mountings and gemstones. He uses the lost wax casting method, which means pieces are cast from an original sculpture. A wax model is made from either injecting a rubber mold or custom-made by carving.
He says his style is a mix of old-fashioned and modern.
Stephens met his wife storyteller Antoinette Botsford on Orcas 30 years ago. Her beaded and gemstone jewelry pieces are also featured in Shinola and will be available privately by appointment.
Stephens has manned his shop six days a week for four decades so he is looking forward to some time off. A self-proclaimed homebody, he enjoys gardening and taking their dog Friday for walks. Botsford and Stephens also love road trips and plan to visit friends in the Pacific Northwest.
“I hope to get back into healthful outdoor endeavors and being out in the fresh air,” he said. “And that outdoor activity just might include a booth in the Saturday Farmers’ Market come summertime.”