Design of the Times: Dana Busch

Jewelry designer Dana Busch creates pieces for the sophisticated, modern woman, and views her jewelry as “sculptural works of art for the body.” A true artist, Busch has designed, curated and constructed every piece in her collection.

We caught up with Busch to learn more about her journey in the industry, how COVID-19 has affected her business, her design process and much more.

How did your journey in the jewelry industry begin?
My roots as an artist started when I was a child. Having grown up with a mother who was/is an artist and having art as part of my academic curriculum, my creative talents were nurtured and developed from the time I was very young. I went on to pursue and complete a BFA with an emphasis in graphic design pre computers. Realizing that graphic design wasn’t my passion, I shifted my creative talents to a very different field — mental health. I started in the field of art therapy and then went onto completing a doctorate in clinical psychology and a masters in public health. I loved the creative challenges presented both as a clinician and researcher. My talents as an artist gave me a unique perspective on how to address and solve issues in novel ways. As I began to become more disillusioned with the politics within academic medical centers, my need for connecting to my art began to reemerge. My love of stones and their properties grew and I began purchasing gemstone beads. I had just relocated to Australia for what would be my last formal position as a psychologist. This also marked the beginning of reconnecting with my art and the meditative outlet it provided during this transition. I returned to Colorado and the birth of my transition into jewelry began. For a handful of years it was primarily an outlet for my own healing and enjoyment but as time passed, I had people who loved what I was creating and wanted to purchase my work. I am completely self-trained and let my aesthetic sense, creative eye and materials guide everything I create.

How has your business been affected by COVID-19?
At the time COVID-19 really began to drastically impact the world, I was just returning from my very first JCK trade show in Tucson. It was a very successful event and my business was at the beginning stages of jumping to that next level of opportunities, exposure and growth. No person or industry has been immune to the uncertainty, fear and financial impact resulting from COVID-19. On a brighter side, I believe that communities are recognizing the importance of supporting small businesses and American-made and fabricated products.

What have you been doing to stay connected with your audience in this new period of social distance?
I knew my website was in need of a revamp and I fortuitously met Shayne McCoy, founder of Straight Up Social, at JCK Tucson. I hired her the end of February to redo my website and launch my social media. The changes we are experiencing have increased the need to use technology in traditional and novel ways to connect with clients, stores and other online platforms.

I’ve also used my professional background and training as a clinical psychologist to help both the jewelry community and the general public. Brenna Pakes, founder of The Jewelry Navigator, and I did a podcast titled Coping With the COVID-19 Crisis Using Self-Care Strategies with Dr Dana Busch. I feel blessed that I am able to use my former career to help my clients, the jewelry community and friends. Amy Elliott was so lovely to share a link to this podcast in one of her JCK articles. I also did another YouTube video with Amy Satori, spiritual coach and intuitive, titled How To Cope With the Chaos. As a small high-end designer, my clients often become friends and that relationship extends well beyond business. I have personally reached out to several of them just to check in, see how they are and to let them know I’m thinking about them and hoping they are safe and healthy.

What was the initial inspiration for your brand?
My brand is rooted in both the beauty of Mother Nature and the remarkable materials she provides. My travels to magical and majestic places around the world are the subject matter from which I then create sculptural works of art for the body. Having a lengthy background in art as well, I consider myself a sculptural artist whose medium is gemstones, metals and other unique materials. I also collect glass art and contemporary mix media art. Both art forms, like my jewelry, requires an eye for composition, color and a harmonious interplay between the elements.

What else inspires you when designing?
Beyond my spectacular materials I would have to say music, architecture and geometry. The ability of music to influence my mood, creative flow and meditative focus is like nothing else. I’m a bit obsessed with creating abstract photographic images of architecture and nature. By focusing on a select aspect, I’ve been able to create some pretty dynamic compositions. I’m also very interested in all things geometry, from ancient structures to nature and science. The uniformity, balance and harmony underlying my design process mirror the foundational principles of geometry and nature.

Can you give us an idea of your design process?
My design process is active and intuitive. I don’t sketch nor do I follow trends. I start with my central/primary stone and then determine the appropriate finding (earwire, bail, chain) to compliment the aesthetic I’m seeking. Following this is where the true intuitive and active design process begins. Based on the colors and characteristics of my central stone, I then gather a palate of complementary small gemstones and pearls to consider clustering above the primary stone. I take into account color, shape, size, opacity and cut as I feel it has the potential to harmonize with other materials. I have close to 3,000 small containers from which to create a palate. My extensive collection of materials feeds my creative and exacting process. Once I have narrowed down the complementary stones I will use to create the clusters I begin my active design process. I will put several of the gemstones on pinheads and begin to drape and cluster them about the central drop until I am happy with the composition. Sometimes stones will be hanging off of a specific side of another stone in order to push the design in a particular direction. Once I have determined the design, I carefully remove the draped stones, lay them out in the exact wiring pattern, and then hand select every gemstone needed to complete the piece. Because every gemstone is natural and hand cut, they all vary a bit and I must insure that they all are uniform. From here I wire all the stones on pinheads and lay them out as they are to be wired onto the piece. For earrings, the wiring process is mirrored between the two and for all pieces; the clusters are also on the back. After the piece has been completed I then draw a detailed sketch in the event I ever need or want to recreate it. This has come in handy when a client looses an earring!

How long does it typically take to create a piece of jewelry?
The length of time can vary greatly, especially when it comes to hand selecting the gemstones used in the clusters, as I’m incredibly particular about uniformity. By uniformity I mean size, color and opacity. Ideas always flow and I have great dexterity when it comes to the construction as I do every facet of the business myself. I also consider traveling to trade shows, sourcing and inventorying materials and photographing the work as part of the time it takes to create a piece of jewelry.

How would you describe your brand using only three words?
The subtitle of my company name is Limited Edition Works of Art for the Body. Although this isn’t three words, it embodies the totality of my vision. I consider myself an abstract sculptural artist whose medium is gemstones. I’ve also been selling my work through a high-end art gallery, Medicine Man Gallery, for over 7 years. The owner was initially a personal client and when her customers wanted to but my jewelry off of her, she began to carry my work. The pieces I create for Medicine Man Gallery are predominately one of a kind and are exclusive to the gallery. Like most art, my collections are titled and each piece is titled.

How do you personalize your jewelry and designs?
Most of the personalization comes from the fact that the majority of my pieces are one of a kind and intuitively created. I consistently receive feedback that no one has ever seen jewelry like mine. The uniqueness of the materials, my design process and attention to detail set it apart. A hallmark of my work is that the clusters of gemstones are on the back of the piece as well which is uncommon. Most jewelry is one sided with a clearly defined front and back. This aspect gives my pieces added depth, harmony and balance.

Are you partial to any particular stones or hues?
I work with many non-traditional materials that are now starting to become more common in the fine jewelry community in particular, jaspers and agates. The patterns, colors and compositions are incredible. No two will ever be alike. Clients can’t believe it when I tell them these are natural compliments of Mother Nature. You can read more about these incredible stones in an article by Amy Elliott.

What do you think sets your jewelry apart from other companies that specialize in fine jewelry?
I consider myself an abstract sculptural artist whose medium is gemstones. I’ve also been selling my work through a high-end art gallery, Medicine Man Gallery, for over 7 years. The owner was initially a personal client and when her customers wanted to but my jewelry off of her, she began to carry my work. The pieces I create for Medicine Man Gallery are predominately one of a kind and are exclusive to the gallery. Like most art, my collections are titled and each piece is titled.

Learn more about Dana Busch here.
Connect with designers and brands at JCK Virtual 2020, August 10-14, 2020 (August 10 Luxury invite only), as the jewelry industry reunites for the most unified week of virtual appointment setting and networking for the jewelry and watch community worldwide. Learn more here.

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