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Art & Life with Jane Tipton, G.G.

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jane Tipton, G.G.

Jane, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
I started making jewelry before I was ten years old. My father was an electrician, and he was very liberal with allowing my brother, sister, and I to spend hours with his copper wire and soldering gun making necklaces, rings, and bracelets. The copper turned our skin green, but it never stopped us. My mother, a teacher, believed that creativity could be learned. She would provide us with art supplies but no guidelines (other than “do it outside!”). I believe that many things can be learned, but we have to have a natural desire. I look back at that time and remember how it was the glossy color pages of our Atlas with “Gemstones of the World” that I would always turn to.

My path to jewelry wasn’t direct though. At Florida State University, I earned my Bachelor of Science in Interior Design and spent ten years in that career before I decided to return to jewelry. There’s a fabulous expression in Spanish, “Poco a poco se va lejos.” “Bit by bit, one can go far,” and bit by bit I got one break after another. Neiman Marcus hired me in their Precious Jewels Department (I believe on sheer enthusiasm alone!) Then, in 1999, the Gem and Jewelry Society of San Diego honored me with a full scholarship to attend the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), where I received my “G.G.” (graduate gemologist degree). It was after graduation that I decided to start my own business, Jane Tipton Designs. My work was shown at Trios Gallery in Solana Beach for many years, where I also worked part-time, before becoming a full-time artist.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
I like to say that I make “Jewelry for the Everyday Goddess.” So often people are looking for something they can wear all the time but isn’t mass produced — something closer to a personal talisman. I’m best known for my one-of-a-kind amulet necklaces which pair vintage silver Hindu pendants with gemstones. These feature gods and goddesses. I like to think that my clients feel at liberty to assign their own meaning to them. Some of my clients never take their favorite one-off, while others buy many so that they have lots of options with their outfits. They are great fun to wear, and wonderful conversation pieces.

To me, things with history seem to inherently hold more interest and significance. They have a story, too. I’ve grown to realize that my art is not only about beauty, but also about preservation. I like to use materials that are either vintage or made with traditional methods. For example, I use new Balinese granulated silver accents in almost all of my designs. This helps to support the artists who craft them.

My reach has expanded over the years, I now seek out vintage silver and unusual materials anywhere from Thailand to the heart of Africa. My education these days is “jewelry inspired.” I’m learning about the Jewish silversmiths that lived in Yemen about a century ago, European-made beads for trade with Africa, pure silver beads from Thailand, and always, always more about amulets from India, which I love even more now than when I started 20 years ago.

And of course, there are GEMS. They are what brings color to my work, and a source of endless fascination. My degree in gemology allows me to find quality stones, and I weave a lot of gemological information into my website and into my monthly newsletters (which I hope you’ll sign up for ) 🙂

For as much as I am inspired by gorgeous materials, I am also inspired by my clients.  What could be better than seeing someone fall in love with a piece that feels as if it was always theirs?  They believe in timeless beauty.

Artists rarely, if ever pursue art for the money. Nonetheless, we all have bills and responsibilities, and many aspiring artists are discouraged from pursuing art due to financial reasons. Any advice or thoughts you’d like to share with prospective artists?
Yes, most definitely! Taking a variety of classes is a great way to learn what direction you want to take. Try not to overbuy materials when you first start out. Chances are that you don’t know what your favorite thing is to do yet, and you don’t want to end up with supplies that you’re not excited about using. Once you do decide, great tools are always a wise investment. Don’t worry about not having enough money or time to do everything you want to do right now, just do what you can with what you have. Make your question be, “What can I do now?” Once you start with those baby steps, chances are that you’ll see doors opening, and you’ll be better able to recognize the kinds of opportunities you’re looking for. My journey involved keeping my “day job” for many years. Make sure you have a strong client base before going full time. Lastly, living modestly can help alleviate anxiety about paying the bills. In San Diego, that could involve having a “big life” in a small space.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
Most Saturdays, I show my work in the courtyard of Spanish Village in Balboa Park.

Other shows are listed on my “Upcoming Shows” page of my website:

You can buy directly from my website I offer free shipping a few times a year, and I send announcements of when those times are in my newsletters.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Photo of Jane Tipton by David Freeman.

Getting in touch: SDVoyager is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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