Jewelry Designer Sandy Baker Creates Wearable Art For Michelle Obama & Julia Roberts

By Karen Taylor Bass for Madam Noire – March 17, 2015 | When I started to write this column, RESET, a year ago, I wanted to tell our story of courage, determination, challenges, love and moxie. Real talk: We all need weekly motivation to stay committed, forgive self and allow the universe to work. This week’s RESET is about staying encouraged, creating a new road map, and walking into your destiny.

Meet this week’s resetter, Sandy Baker. Her name might not be familiar to you (yet), but her jewelry has adorned the likes of Julia Roberts, Natalie Cole, the late Dr. Maya Angelou and FLOTUS, Michelle Obama.

Baker has been an artist and tinkerer as far back as she can remember. Beginning in childhood with pencils and crayons, she soon moved on to Popsicle sticks, aluminum foil, colored tape, paint and clay, then to steel dapping tools, hammers, a jewelers bench block, a soldering torch and a flexible shaft. Being a Black woman in the jewelry industry has not always been easy for her, but she never gave up the vision to have her jewelry sold in stores, shown in galleries, museums, and magazines and celebrated by both famous and everyday people.

Recently, I interviewed Sandy Baker about finding one’s voice, inspiration and pressing #RESET.

MadameNoire: How did you discover your passion?
Sandy Baker: As a teenager I felt the need to express myself creatively and I could not find jewelry that outwardly reflected my sensibilities, so I decided to start making my own.

… When I started there were few women in the fine jewelry industry, and no women of color, which meant I had to fight to secure my position. As I progressed to being a manufacturing jeweler selling to stores, I knew it meant that I could show women that the distribution of our creative products can go beyond friends, family and the neighborhood.

MN: When you entered the jewelry industry and no one looked liked you, what became your mindset/mantra?
SB: My mindset was picturing my bold, unique, wearable art on bold and unique women of all walks of life. I saw the vision and believed it. Giving up was not an option.

MN: What classes, workshops and conferences helped you to develop/hone your craft?
SB: I took jewelry classes in college and in graduate school. I attended various fashion shows, jewelry shows, so I could see what was out there. Also, I registered for classes and workshops in the summer to learn and fine-tune specific skills-stone setting, bezel making and silversmithing. It was then that I made the decision, to sell my creations to stores and not individuals.

MN: What was the initial investment for launching Sandy Baker Art?
SB: It was around $7,000 to invest in supplies, manufacturing, traveling to find precious gems, marketing and networking.

MN: How important was marketing/branding in getting the message out there about your art?
SB: Marketing and branding was exceedingly important. My early slogan was “Sandy Baker does ears like nobody else.” The first 10 years of my business, I did only earrings. I focused on getting stores to look at my collection if they wanted something besides hoops and love knots. My goal was to be the “Queen of earring design.” I had T-shirts, tote bags, gift cards that went with each purchase that told the purchaser about me. The gift cards with my picture and bio were free to the stores. Also, my logo has evolved over the years because I’ve also evolved.

MN: Why do you call your work art, not jewelry?
SB: My art is unique and artfully created and produced in limited editions. Many pieces are more sculpture than just jewelry. I love designing forms that work in three-dimensional space. My earrings in particular come to life when someone is wearing them. My designs play with positive and negative space-the face, the jaw line, the space below the ear and light.

MN: Biggest challenge to date?
SB: How much time do you have? Ha. I would say infringement of my intellectual property has been the biggest challenge. Technology has made it easier for people to replicate, and in some cases steal my designs. Sometimes I see modified versions of designs that I did 20 and 30 years ago being sold in stores today made out of cheaper materials.

MN: How did you press RESET?
SB: Throughout my career I have had to continually press RESET. From keeping up with current fashion trends, to adjusting to the rising costs of raw materials, and modifying my price points accordingly. I started out working in 18K gold, 14K gold and sterling silver. I then moved to sterling silver exclusively. Later, I moved to designing my own color inlays in place of standard commercial semi-precious stones. I use more organic materials these days like South Sea blue-green abalone.

MN: Biggest accomplishment to date?
SB: I feel my biggest accomplishment has been the opportunity to reach so many women with my work, and create pieces that they cherish. Currently my work is included in a traveling jewelry exhibition by the American Jewelry Design Council. The show originally opened at the Forbes Galleries in New York. Selections from my work are included in the Design Archives of the Smithsonian. [And] my work has been published.

MN: What would you tell the person reading this article that feels like it will never happen for them?
SB: They must know that life and their dreams and aspirations do not necessarily travel in a straight line. Stay focused, reach far and believe. Never allow minor obstacles to derail your destiny.

RESET: Stay true to your vision, and never settle for anything less than walking into your purpose.

Karen Taylor Bass, an award winning PR Expert, best-selling author and Brand Mom, empowers entrepreneurs, small-business owners, corporations and mompreneurs with essential marketing, public relations and strategic coaching. Follow Karen @thebrandnewmom.

Sandy Baker at the new CMOA Design Store

By Maurice Moore – Apr 22, 2015 | CMOA Design Store invites you to meet artist and jewelry designer Sandy Baker as she features items from her collection.

Baker is recognized as one of the top 100 American jewelry designers over the past 30 years by National Jeweler magazine. Creating distinctive wearable modern art, Baker brings together contemporary lines with elegance and imagination. Her designs are always on the cutting edge of both fine and fashion jewelry.

Baker’s work has appeared in fashion magazines including Vogue, Glamour, and Essence; trade press such as Jewelers Circular Keystone, National Jeweler, and Modern Jeweler; and news media such as Crain’s New York and The New York Times. Celebrities Julia Roberts and Natalie Cole wear her pieces.

APPALACHIAN SPRINGS Ushers in the Spring with new designs from Sandy Baker Jewelry

Appalachian Spring, twice voted the No. 1 store for American crafts is gearing up for Spring with the bold designs from Sandy Baker jewelry. The Baker creations are world-famous for their edgy, hand-crafted artistry, including modern, organic inlays. Style -minded shoppers gravitate towards earrings and necklaces. Says one, “It’s my go-to necklace for every day. Unfortunately, it’s also my daughter’s favorite and she keeps borrowing it!” “It’s chic, modern and goes well with everything. It’s great for work and then out on the town,” another shares. With outlets in Washington, D.C.; Rockville, Md.; and Reston, Va., the well curated Appalachian Spring shops have been operating for more than 40 years.

Sandy Baker Jewelry: “Feminine without being frilly”

Since 1997, tastemakers around Charlottesville, Virginia have been clamoring for Vivian’s Art to Wear collection of carefully curated handcrafted goods, from batik textiles, blown glass and sculpture to the newest sensation, fine jewelry by Sandy Baker. The whimsical shop draws creative souls looking to stand out from the crowd. Baker’s modern elegance is reigniting that reputation with precious metals, organic stones and heirloom quality settings. Superb workmanship, the result of decades in pursuit of perfection, is immediately apparent. Owner Vivian, whose own studio is above the store, shed some light on the appeal Baker’s pieces hold for her customers.

“First they are attracted to the designs: Many designs are geometric, but the use of shell and mosaic softens that and brings an alluring quality. They are simple and classic, but the unique combination of different shapes and materials gives them depth and interest. Someone said Sandy Baker designs are feminine without frilliness.”

That aesthetic has been a guiding light for Sandy Baker since she first began her company. Bold, but not over the top. Light-hearted, not silly. And true to her base, always art-forward.

Sandy Baker Appearance at Carnegie Museum of Art

Saturday, May 9, Noon – 4 p.m.

CMOA Design Store invites you to meet artist and jewelry designer Sandy Baker as she features items from her collection. Click Here to RSVP

Get Sandy at the Beach

While Sandy herself can’t take off for a long warm weather break, her jewelry is bringing joy to Provincetown, Cape Cod’s most popular vacation spot. Known for its beaches, presidential history and incredible natural beauty, Provincetown is also home to the charming Impulse Art Gallery, where for nearly 30 years, American and world artists’ works have been showcased. Impulse has recently begun featuring Sandy Baker jewelry for its unique spin on color, exclusive original organic inlays and uncluttered modern designs that appeal to both women and men.

Sandy Baker Jewelry Brings White-Hot Metal Trend to Lenox

In a collaboration so nice, they’re doing it twice, the maven of contemporary designer jewelry is again partnering with America’s leading brand in tabletop and bone china. Sandy Baker Jewelry and Lenox are bringing the best in today’s designer jewelry to a new audience.

Like SBJ aficionados, Lenox fans are a creative crowd who enjoy arts and entertaining. They appreciate classic function and modern style, and have come to expect the highest quality from both Baker and Lenox.

Baker’s exclusive designs for Lenox echo the very Now white-on-white jewelry trend, combining white metal (sterling silver) with hand-carved mother-of-pearl and freshwater pearl accents. The new designs remain true to Sandy Baker’s signature look: a bold spirit balanced with Old World charm.

The items are showcased in Lenox’s Spring 2014 direct mail catalog and in their online jewelry store. Baker says these unique, refreshing designs were “inspired by the riches of the ancient world.”

The “Queen of Earring Design” Shares Secrets to Success at the Met

New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art has hosted many masters of design. Now Sandy Baker, the “Queen of Earring Design,” will be added to that illustrious roster.
On February 18, Baker will address attendees of the 2014 Arts and Cultural Conference, produced by the National Conference of Artists New York, at the Met.
Sandy Baker’s talent and vision has given her a notable career in the fine and fashion jewelry industries that spans over 4 decades. Her clean-lined, whimsical, modern designs in silver and gold have earned accolades from jewelry cognoscenti around the world.
Baker will speak on the concept that first inspired her creative passion and which she loves best–earrings–as well as expound on insights and experiences discovered along her career. Come prepared for a unique chance to be inspired, and see why she’s known as the “Queen of Earring design.

Modern sterling silver with lustrous abalone writes about American Jewelry Design Council & Sandy Baker

New Sandy Baker designs add eclectic luxe to Baltimore mainstay

MAJA, Baltimore’s popular jewelry, textiles and housewares retailer is upping the ante on their style quotient. They’re boosting their already established reputation for one-of-a-kind, graphic, cultural designs with new Sandy Baker Jewelry pieces.

Colorful, quirky and already amassing a cult following, expect to find selections from Sandy Baker’s Grafilage collection in-store. Baker’s hand-carved mother of pearl and abalone medallions, like the Botero, Rapunzel, Odalis and Hoopla are also now stocked.

Mary Butler, owner of MAJA, says the store’s tagline is “A nomadic journey in wearable and collectible artistry” — a perfect description for Baker’s motion-driven, customizable, high-quality accessories. Butler’s voice kicks up a notch when she talks about the new designs

“[Customers] love the sculptural look and the light weight. Once they put on the earrings on, they’re hooked,” she says.

Sandy starts with a base of the finest grade of sterling silver available to construct a piece’s frame or skeleton. Then, through patented processes, she adds signature color and embellishment. The result is an individualistic design that lets light and shadows play in the wearer’s hair and neck. Opening night artists to chief operating executives snap them up.

It’s easy enough to see why, Butler says. “These are no ordinary earrings here—they’re special!”