Handmade fine jewelry appropriate for all occasions
By Sarah Gianelli EBS Associate Editor
BIG SKY – Shelly Bermont’s high-end, handmade jewelry creations and designs have been showcased in select jewelry stores across the country for 15 years, but for the first time the artisan goldsmith and collector of fine stones, gems and pearls has her own storefront.
Shelly Bermont Fine Jewelry opened in the Meadow Village Center, in between Lone Peak Brewery and OZssage Spa, on July 31.
Bermont has had a second home in Big Sky for nearly 20 years, and became a fulltime resident of the community last year. She decided to open a retail location because she thinks Big Sky is ready for a fine jewelry store.
“I’ve seen the morphing of this sleepy little town into a town that’s attracting the rich and famous,” Bermont said. “Shopping to me is part of the fun of travel. To find a handmade, unique piece of jewelry while on vacation is fun.”
Bermont has earned a reputation for her use of the highest-quality Tahitian and South Sea saltwater pearls, warm-hued opalescent baubles she sets off with leather or gemstone-beadwork and 18- or 22-karat gold.
“Everybody thinks that’s all I do,” Bermont said. “But it’s not. Just about any beautiful stone you can think of, if it catches my eye I will buy it.”
Guided by her attraction to interesting or unique natural stones, she also works with untreated Sleeping Beauty turquoise, an increasingly rare stone with a value close to that of pearls, white and pink corral, aquamarine, peridot, amethyst and diamonds—all ethically-sourced and strung on recycled gold that Bermont melts down, rolls out and hammers by hand.
Bermont said most jewelers begin with a design—often computer-generated—and then seek out the necessary components to create it. Bermont works backwards, allowing her vast inventory of stones or, if a custom piece, the customer, to dictate the design.
Bermont began making jewelry in Miami when the black tie affairs of the ‘80s and ‘90s began to give way to more casually-attired social events, a trend Bermont has only seen continue.
At the time, Bermont was married to a man “who thought jewelry was part of the uniform,” and had been given a lot of extravagant pieces of jewelry she wasn’t finding occasion to wear anymore.
“I just found it a shame to have such beautiful jewelry sitting in a safe,” Bermont said. “My jewelry is fine jewelry, but I want it to be wearable with your jeans and T-shirt.”
That’s why she often chooses a matte finish and incorporates leather, which adds a natural, earthy element that offsets the gloss of the pearls.
“People love the idea of putting something important on leather,” Bermont said. “It works so well in [places] like Aspen, Florida, Texas and California … it’s natural and more casual.”
Bermont started deconstructing her elaborate jewelry and creating new pieces out of the old, first by sending them to a jeweler to execute her designs, and later, after intensive training with multiple goldsmiths, doing the handiwork herself. Her first sales were of $30 silver earrings to her girlfriends.
As Bermont became more proficient at goldsmithing and “fell madly in love” with the precious metal, she starting purchasing more expensive stones and, in the process, discovered a love of pearls.
While the pieces on display in her store have a price range of $100 to $25,000, Bermont said she can work with any budget.
“I do this because I love it,” she said. “I’ve never done it for the money—everything I make I put back into the business, and [use to] buy more materials.”
Not only will Bermont cater to any budget, she also enjoys creating custom pieces that reflect the customer’s style or taste, and encourages people to pick out their own pearls. While the majority of her ready-for-purchase pieces consist of bracelets, necklaces and earrings, Bermont has fulfilled commissions for men’s bracelets, key chains and tuxedo studs.
Above all, Bermont likes working with her hands and doesn’t hide her disdain for the largely digitally-designed and machine-created jewelry on the market today.
“[Most of] the new metalsmiths haven’t even banged on a piece of metal,” Bermont said.
For Bermont, it’s the handmade integrity of her line of jewelry and the use of only the finest quality stones and pearls that sets her work apart.
“I make every piece so that if it doesn’t sell I’ll wear it,” Bermont said. “The worst thing is for someone to buy a piece of jewelry and for it to sit in a jewelry box. If you don’t love it, bring it back and I’ll turn it into something you do.”
For more information, visit shellybermont.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (406) 995-7833.