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Montana Retailer Cindy Mikesell Profiled By Hometown Paper For Unique Role As Female Bench Jeweler And Mentor March 22, 2021 (0 comments)


Hamilton, MT—A description of “longtime bench jeweler” usually conjures up the image of a man with gray hair, swathed in an apron and peering through magnifying glasses. But at Mikesell’s Fine Jewelers, the apron and the glasses are there, but the woman wearing them, Cindy Mikesell, is unusual among bench jewelers for her almost half-decade long career as a female bench jeweler. Image: Cindy Mikesell, photographed by Michelle Mcconnaha, Ravalli Republic

Mikesell, who recently was profiled in The Ravalli Republic for her love of making jewelry and her successful retail business, is a 47-year veteran of the jewelry industry who got her start making jewelry after a former employer took some of her designs and sold them to a popular catalog jeweler without her knowledge.

That was enough. She left and opened her own manufacturing jewelry store offering casting, bench work, and design. A GIA graduate gemologist, she knows stones well and she specializes in remaking customers’ old or heirloom jewelry—and in Montana sapphires.

 From the article:

“It just came naturally,” she said. “I’ve always loved mechanics. It takes mechanics, math and just being able to look at something structurally and deciding if it is a sound repair or a design that is going to work.”

She designs pieces based on ideas customers bring her and works with "what they have," she said.

“People come in and bring me odd bits, old gold teeth, piles of antique jewelry, plies of great-grandma’s, grandma’s, mom’s stuff in a clump,” Mikesell said. “They may want a ring made or a pendant. That is really fun. They want it upcycled and given a more modern-day usage that they can wear and enjoy.”

Mikesell also enjoys mentoring other women. Her staff is entirely female, and she typically hires a few high school and college-age women during summers and holidays. And she makes them a deal: get the digital stuff off her plate.

“I tell them if they want me to learn the computer then they are going to have to sit at the welder, a simple deal. I make everyone sit at the welder and see how fine of work it does,” she told the paper.

She also had one more interesting observation about how the changing roles of women has impacted jewelry: women today put their jewelry on and go everywhere, whereas women of the past typically only wore it to church. As a result, jewelry gets damaged much more frequently, but obviously, that extra wear-and-tear means a lot more business for her!

Read the full article here.

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