When the jewelry business gets tough and the future seems daunting, a little inspiration is needed to get back on track. For Linda Kozloff-Turner, the realization that she couldn’t be the only one with the same struggles came with the inspiration to talk to others and find out how they made their way through the industry. With her upcoming book, Women of Jewelry, Linda has made it her mission to travel the world and interview 100 women jewelry designers to learn not only “how the successful make it and stay in business, but how to enlighten the next generation of women in this industry.”
With dreams, comes reality. And sometimes reality isn’t pretty. A massive flood in Boulder almost brought Linda Kozloff-Turner to the point of giving up on her jewelry business. She fought off her career doubts as much as she could when one morning she awoke to an epiphany: she could not be alone in these struggles. Throughout her career, she had to overcome working in a man’s world and gaining the confidence to show off her talent, and she knew other women in jewelry had met the same obstacles. She decided to profile 100 amazing women in jewelry to learn their stories as inspiration for future generations. To date, she is about halfway through her goal of 100 interviews for the book.
Linda focuses on women who are innovators – those who fiercely went after their passion, even when it was completely out of the box. Some of the women have a vast background in design processes while others found jewelry as a way to make money while home with their kids; they range from successful local and regional artisans to rising stars and women who have had their designs featured on the red carpet. Although they are all connected by their jewelry calling, each woman has her own unique story to tell. In Women of Jewelry, you’ll meet the whimsical, the fun, the no-nonsense and so many other personalities that work to create wearable art.
Linda partnered with Denver-based award winning news photographer Hardy Klahold to bring images of the women to life in an unprecedented series of portraits. Together, they travel around the world to profile a diverse array of women designing a wide range of jewelry pieces. So far this journey has taken Linda and Hardy around the U.S., as well as Paris and London with hopes to explore designers in China, India, the Middle East and more. Linda said,
I uncovered each woman of jewelry’s story…her luster, her essence, and her legacy to the world today and the future of jewelry design.
The book will feature stunning photography of the artists and their work, but the paths of the women will be the true story. And Linda has big plans for where this project will go.
Linda’s interviews cover their histories, current challenges and future plans. At times, she dives deep to uncover dreams, insecurities, or hopes for a legacy. She also explores how being a woman in the jewelry industry has affected each designer. Linda said,
Each woman in this book is a treasure. Her story, her work, her struggle to become accomplished and her path to her success.
The book is scheduled to be finished in a couple years. Linda then plans to curate an exhibition featuring photography of the 100 women with pieces of their work on display.
Linda started in the jewelry business in 1972 as a teenager working in a local art supply store in Northampton, MA. Standing behind the bead counter, she made her own jewelry and taught others how to make simple earrings and necklaces. One day, while talking with a customer, Linda said she’d love to learn even more about techniques. Luck would have it that a local jewelry designer overheard the conversation and happened to be looking for an apprentice. Thanks to that relationship, Linda learned the ins and outs of working at a jeweler’s bench. With much respect for her first mentor, she said,
…she taught me one of the most valuable lessons of all: how to finish a piece of jewelry.
When Linda relocated to Colorado, she found a job as a cast polisher for a local fine jeweler. Her new mentors bought her a bench and torches and she was given time to experiment with small pieces of material. She always felt like she was living in a man’s world though. Some colleagues welcomed her into the design process with open arms while others made her feel as if she wasn’t good enough. So, she decided to work harder and get formal training. In 1985 she graduated with a BA in Product and Industrial Design with a focus on jewelry and eventually went on to earn her MFA in Fine Art Photography. After 40 years of working with and studying under other jewelers, Linda was able to open her own design studio and store in Boulder, CO.
When the flood came along in 2013, Linda began questioning her career choices. Her home was destroyed and her loyal jewelry clients suffered financial setbacks that affected her business. Ready to break her lease, as it seemed her business would fail, Linda needed a new strategy. She applied for GIA scholarships to finish her Colored Stones Certificate (which she received this year). Then she enlisted her husband to learn Rhino for CAD. She pushed back against the struggles and the doubt to keep afloat and rebuild her jewelry practice.
To sum up what many jewelers know, Linda says,
No one said this path was easy.
Do you know of a woman in jewelry for Linda to interview? Contact her through the Women of Jewelry Instagram or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow Linda’s progress on the Instagram page as well as the Women of Jewelry website where you can read about Linda’s experiences meeting each artist.