Father and son create works of jewelry art in Jerome

Ricky’s signature rings started out when he was designing a Mother’s Day gift for his mother, Karen.

Ricky’s signature rings started out when he was designing a Mother’s Day gift for his mother, Karen.

At Jerome's Jewelry and Gifts, creating and selling original, handmade works of jewelry art is a Hernandez family tradition. Rick has more that 20 years as a goldsmith and jewelry designer. His son Ricky, 19, is a silversmith and has been learning from and working with his father since he was 13.

"What we do is all by hand," said Rick. Some of that is a process called lost-wax casting. A basic design is carved in wax then put in a canister that goes in an oven. The wax is melted out and gold or silver is shot into the cavity.

That is only one process Rick uses. He said all of his jewelry designs begin with sketches and hand fabrication. Of course there is cutting and pounding and bending.

When gems are involved, such as diamonds, Australian opal, fire agate or Bisbee turquoise, then grinding, shaping, cutting and polishing all become an integral part of the creation process.

The Hernandez family has been in Jerome for 11 years, but Rick's career making jewelry started a long time ago.

"It's over 20 years now," he said. "I'm petty much self taught."

Rick said he got a job doing clean up and other chores in a jewelry store right out of high school. He got to know the jewelers and fell in love with the idea of making jewelry.

"I got another job working for an Indian jewelry store," Rick said. "Later, I got a job for a regular jewelry store and learned about casting and diamond setting.

"I combined both fine jewelry and Native American jewelry styles into my own style," Rick said.

Rick and his family used to own The Old Market in Jerome and turned it into Jerome's Jewelry Market. They have owned Jerome's Jewelry and Gifts at 114 Jerome Ave. for three years. Rick's wife and Ricky's mother, Karen, works in the retail end of the business.

Although the store features displays of Rick and Ricky's original jewelry, it also sells many other jewelry and gift items. "We create a lot of our own pieces," Rick said, "then buy a lot of pieces at gem shows."

Karen does much of the buying for the store, Rick said. That allows him and Ricky to spend their time designing and creating.

Ricky said his dad had him start learning at 13.

"He had an interest in it," Rick said.

"I've always been artistic," Ricky said. "I used to make little sculptures out of clay. By the time I was 15 I had my own showcase."

Ricky won first place as Junior Silversmith at the Yavapai County Fair. What has become Ricky's signature ring started out to be a Mother's Day present for Karen. "Some of the most popular items started out to be something else," he said. "I just randomly come up with different things."

Rick and Karen live in Cottonwood, and Ricky lives in an apartment in Jerome. He is a volunteer firefighter and emergency medical technician on the Jerome Fire Department.

"The town is really good to artistic people," Ricky said. "And my parents have been supportive.'

For Ricky, there is no casting as there is for his father. "I have to make my signature ring from scratch each time," he said. "I love shaping and bending the metal. I do more from straight silver."

While Rick makes many jewelry creations, including custom designs, Ricky works mostly on rings, bracelets, earrings and pendants. "Pendants are my favorite things to make," Ricky said.

Ricky said he is always trying to come up with something different from what his dad has done. For both father and son, it is the creative process that they both love.

"The fun part is always creating something different," Rick said.

"They both have customers from all over," Karen said. "Many of them are repeat customers."

Hours are 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week. But customers can call for appointments.

Call (928) 639-4701.

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