By Emily Stifler Explorebigsky.com Managing Editor
BIG SKY – Jeweler Ariane Coleman is focused. She easily spends three days making one of the necklaces in her Fine Artisan line, she says.
“I can start at eight in the morning and five at night will just be there all of a sudden. I just get so engrossed in it—wanting it to be perfect, playing with how things look. Three days will go by and it will feel like three hours.”
On top of designing and constructing, she also imports beads for the necklaces from India and the Czech Republic. If she decides the piece would look better in gold, she ships out it out to be gold plated.
Coleman, 35, is a Billings native and has lived in Big Sky since 1998. She learned metalsmithing at MSU, graduated with a degree in fine art in 2004 and officially opened Ari-O Jewelry in 2009.
Coleman says a semester she spent studying metalsmithing in Italy still influences her work, particularly the more complex layered pieces, that she builds with rivets instead of soldering the metal.
“Every tool we had, we had to carry on our back and share, so it really taught me how to think outside of the box and redefine myself without the crutch of a torch.”
With five different lines of jewelry, including one for men, Coleman has a broad range of styles and price. The fine, layered, sculptural pieces have been on display in Gallatin River Gallery for several years, and she’s selling her newer “Boho Chic” beaded bracelets at the Big Sky Farmers Market this summer. Also new to her work are copper pendants and buttons.
“I’m trying to have a really broad spectrum market, everything from the high-end jewelry which only sells to a certain group to the beaded bracelets and the copper necklaces to another type of customer.”
Besides, she says, she gets bored doing the same thing over and over again.
“The key to success as an artist is to reinvent yourself, so if you have a return customer he or she comes and sees something new.”
Coleman hopes to move her shop out of the garage and to a small space with a storefront by this fall. With that, she’d also like to hire a couple of interns through the MSU metalsmithing program and up Ari-O Jewelry’s production.
“If I can turn this thing I love into making a living, it would be my dream,” she says.
And Big Sky is a good place to do it, she says.
“It presents great opportunity with the dynamic of people here. There’s influence from all over.”
Coleman’s community supports her: When she sent out an email asking for votes to be considered for a small business grant from Chase credit cards last month, she accumulated the 250 votes she needed for the nomination in eight days.
Look for Coleman and her son Orrin at the Big Sky Farmers Market this summer, or find her work at JP Woolies and Gallatin River Gallery.