Sep 3, 2008
by Liz Daube, '05
Alumna’s jewelry hobby evolves into a career Gabrielle Gould didn’t plan on becoming an artist. The 1986 Flagler graduate majored in graphic design – known as commercial art at the time – and figured her fine arts studies would feed her personal, rather than professional, life.
Then she took a jewelry class, and her new hobby turned into a career.
“It was a sheer whim that Enzo [Torcoletti] offered that class,” Gould said about the now-retired Flagler sculpture professor. “Jewelry is almost like miniature sculpture … It’s great because it’s my work and my income, and it’s my art form.”
Today, Gould’s handmade necklaces, brooches and earrings are sold in roughly 45 boutiques nationwide. She’s been featured in an exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Jacksonville, as well as a National Endowment for the Arts grant and an Award of Excellence from the American Craft Council. Last year she was also featured on the cover of Ornament Magazine.
It’s a level of success she never anticipated when she first started handcrafting her jewelry, combining natural materials like feathers with more traditional silver and gold. At first, Gould sold her work out of her parents’ downtown St. Augustine shop, Gabrielle’s Contemporary. Soon, she had a sales representative teaching her the business of wholesaling and distributing her work all over the country.
At one point, Gould had several employees helping her hand-reproduce pieces. She’s scaled her business back in recent years to devote time to her daughter, but Gould continues to make a variety of popular items and create artisan, one-of-a-kind pieces.
“I try to bring the past into a contemporary feel,” Gould said, adding that her pieces are inspired by everything from walks on the beach to architecture to archaeological finds. She said more and more people are viewing jewelry as art or a form of self-expression, and many craft jewelers are shying away from traditional, status-symbol materials like diamonds.
“In the craft world today, so much is influenced by design, not materials,” she said. “So it would be the design that’s precious, not the semi-precious stones … What could be better? You don’t just put it on the wall and forget about it. I love that you can touch it and it’s functional. That’s the definition of a craft – it’s functional art.”