How a Biologist Transformed Into a Jewellery Artist


I had an epiphany while washing my hair a couple of weeks ago.  Isn't it amazing how answers come to you when you turn your brain off for a few minutes?
The word transformation came to me and I realized that it's the concept I've been looking for, what I've been trying to express for a really long time.  I know that my 'what' has always been creating art for the people I love.  But I've been missing a piece of the puzzle that's really important.  I finally realized that my purpose, my "why" is to support your transformations (big & small) even if we haven't met in person.  To support your internal desire to align with your highest potential.  To create physical, tangible objects that carry a positive energy and act as a source of strength so you can show up in the world every day radiating the positivity & love within you.  



A deep personal transformation led me down a very unexpected path to becoming a jewellery artist.  A little over twenty years ago I graduated university with a Bachelor of Science (and a Certificate in Liberal Arts; because why not be well-rounded and under a mound of student loan debt?).  I was also working part-time in a well-paid union job that had helped me through university.  By all appearances I was set.  I had a great part time gig and a promising future in science.  But the truth was I was miserable.  I was depressed.  I couldn't fathom continuing down either of those paths.  Neither path felt right.  The only thing that drove me and brought me joy was being an artist.  But to abandon my schooling & secure job seemed outrageous.  I was really stuck.  My wonderful partner Kelly said to me "Just quit.  It'll be fine."  What an enormous relief.  This gave me the space to take that huge risk, to abandon my years of training and my job with a pension and follow my heart & passion.  So I quit (with possibly the shortest resignation letter ever written:  "To whom it may concern, I quit."). 


Mikel's SFU grad photo


What has made my heart sing from the time I could hold a pencil is making & gifting my art; from my very first drawings to hand-painted t-shirts and shoes, to the very first incarnations of jewellery made with colourful clay.  My mum likes to tell this story about the time she took me to visit a mall Santa when I was about five years old.  I got all dressed up and brought a basket of handmade paper bookmarks & drawings I had crafted for him.  He was kind enough to sit with me as I presented them to him one by one😂

Mikel's little kid art: basket of paper gifts


One of my very last classes at university was entomology (the study of insects).  I absolutely loved this course and actually ended up working in a honeybee research lab for a while.  My imagination was sparked and I started creating curious objects made with insects in resin.  These were fun to make but also very limiting in many respects (size & material hazards being particular challenges).   I also started taking silversmithing classes around this time and soon these early designs evolved into featuring butterfly and moth wings under resin set in silver frames.  I still found this direction very limiting in terms of what I could create so I focused on gemstones and metals next. This turned out to be the sweet spot for me and everything fell into place.  These materials really allow me to create freely and as my knowledge of silversmithing grew, my work has became more refined.   And as the business has grown, Kelly has been able to leave his career as a chef and join me full time. 

Evolution of my Work by Mikel Grant Jewellery
Our designs continue to evolve as a happy collaboration between us and the people who love our work.  While I do love to learn new techniques and source new gemstone cuts and varieties, our focus is on creating classic, timeless pieces rather than chasing trends.  
I've also always had an entrepreneurial drive so very early on Kelly & I jumped into the craft show circuit.   What has stood out for me is that even when I'm not there in person, Kelly tells me over and over about clients that have said they can feel something different about our jewellery.  That it feels good (and not just because I am fastidious about making sure our jewellery is comfortable: smooth edges, good balance, comfortable weight).  That they can feel an energy in the jewellery that they connect with.   

Creation Process

So, how does a new collection of one of a kind jewellery come together?
I start with gem selection.  I get ridiculously excited about gemstones.  I'd rather shop for gemstones than shoes, clothes or just about anything else.  It's funny though, I buy stones that resonate with me but never with the intention to keep them.  I'm a collector but I always know they aren't for me.   
Handful of gemstones by Mikel Grant Jewellery


Sketches: sometimes I do, sometimes I don't.  Often I will make sketches of initial design ideas but I do leave room for designs to come together spontaneously while I'm working at my jewellery bench.  This is a great excuse for having a messy benchtop!  I might not know in the beginning what shape a piece will take but what I do know is the feeling it needs.  


Mikel Grant Jewellery Sketchbook Page


Next is hand fabricating.  Sawing, texturing, soldering, filing, sanding, polishing, and finally stone setting.  These are skills I have honed over the last twenty years of metalsmithing and working at my bench is truly my happy place.  


Mikel working at jewellery bench by Mikel Grant Jewellery


Once the settings are shiny & polished they are ready for stone setting.  This is a sometimes nerve-wracking experience because there is always the potential to crack a stone or discover that a setting is just a tiny bit off and the stone doesn't fit.  But as my mum used to say, "mistakes are friendly invitations to try again."  And I can usually embrace that (after some swearing).  


Gemstones and settings ready for finishing by Mikel Grant Jewellery


Once gemstones are set, chains are added to necklaces and ear wires added to earrings, these pieces are ready to find new homes.  It's very satisfying to have a piece come together the way I envisioned.   And even more exciting when we hear back from you about how much you love your jewellery.   
Feedback like this makes my day:
"Obsessed.  As always, Mikel is wonderful to chat with about her jewelry. And as always, this little gem is even more incredible in person. This one is very special to me!"
                                                           -Kathleen C.


One of a Kind Artisan Jewellery

From concept to completion,  I work at every stage to incorporate the fundamentals of our brand pillars, which have always been kindness, creativity and integrity.  
My epiphany allowed me to recognize the transformative powers of my offerings.  These beautiful and unique designs were created for you.  When you wear them you will look fantastic.  You will feel fantastic.  And more importantly, you will make others feel exactly the way you want them to feel when they meet you. 
In this way, we hope that each piece we create makes the world a bit better. 
So go ahead and find the piece that was meant for you.
Because you deserve to shine.  
Mikel Grant Jewellery New One of a Kind Artisan Jewellery


Shop New One of a Kind Jewellery Button Link by Mikel Grant Jewellery

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