Philly’s Dazzling Jewelry Designers

by Meca McKinney

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Monday December 10, 2012

Though Philadelphia may be known for many things -- but particularly cheese steaks and sports -- you may not consider the City of Brotherly Love a hub for independent jewelry designers.

Besides the bling-bling found on Jeweler's Row, where do you go to find custom-designed jewelry to adorn your fabulous self or to impress that stylish someone on your list in gift-giving season? If you think you have to search outside of Philly, you're in for a pleasant surprise. Look no further than your backyard. Some of the world's brightest and innovative jewelry designers are found right here.

This fall, during two tours of the city's best professional artists and designers showing at POST (Philadelphia Open Studio Tour) and DesignPhiladelphia, I stumbled upon the work of Kate Cusack at Snyderman-Works Gallery.

I was immediately mesmerized by Cusack's line of Zipper Jewelry. Necklaces, brooches and bracelets made exclusively from zippers are something unexpected, yet the freelance costume designer and jewelry maker says she's "inspired by the repetition of ordinary things" and "loves the transformation of the ordinary."

Using ordinary objects, Cusack creates elegant jewelry that transcends trends. The Brooklynite’s pieces are wearable art without being odd; they are simply spectacular.

Shop the Zipper Jewelry collection at Snyderman-Works Gallery, at 303 Cherry St., during the 2012 Holiday Gift Exhibit on view Dec. 1-31.

Self-taught jewelry designer, Lithuanian native turned Philly resident Zivile Pupinyte has been creating exotic wearable art in Philadelphia since 2002, just three years after she moved to the states.

In 2005, she worked as a jeweler with Paul Morelli, where she gained professional experience. Her first line, Zivile Art, fused with lava rocks and semiprecious gems, was shown in elaborate presentations in gallery receptions throughout the city.

In November, Zivile launched a line, Screwed Forever, which is a modern approach to fine metals that transcends gender, time and homogenization.

"This collection of customizable accessories explores the ties that bind humanity. Human emotions of love, passion, compassion, devotion and loyalty are playfully represented in a ring/pendant design held together with an industrial screw," said Zivile.

The brilliantly original concept is jewelry "by the slice." Unisex jewelry is created with silver or gold bands, matte or highly polished, which become rings or are strung on chain to make necklaces.

These minimalist, sculptural delights are sure to have mass appeal. Available at Screwed Forever E-Shop.

Printmaker, painter and jewelry designer Wendy Wolf studied printmaking locally, at Tyler School of Art in Elkins Park, earning her MFA; and at the School of Art & Design at Alfred University in Alfred, NY, where she completed her BFA. Ms. Wolf has been exhibiting since 1995 and has been a visiting lecturer at universities from Scottsdale, Ariz., to Venice, Italy.

To call her a seasoned veteran is an understatement. Her colorful paintings have evolved to wood-framed jewelry. Imagine the joy of wearing a miniature version of your favorite painting around your neck in a kamagong wood frame.

Wolf has also framed semiprecious stones such as onyx, coral, jade and turquoise for her collection, Inline Designs. Just in time for holiday shopping, shop Inline Designs at Holiday Open Studios @ 915 Spring Garden Dec. 8-9, 12-6 p.m. Wolf is available for private necklace parties.

This holiday season and beyond, seek out our city’s abundance of skilled and creative local artisans.


Learn more about Kate Cusack at

Shop Screwed Forever at

See more of Wendy Wolf’s work at


Meca McKinney is the lead product designer of Jypsea Leathergoods ( and a serious arts & culture fanatic. She's also a DIY home decor blogger and instructor. Follow her antics on Twitter and IG @theterinanicole.

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