A jeweler foraging new paths in nature and artistry.
Rockhound and jeweler Sasha Nelson is a spirit meant for the mountains. She hikes and explores, creating from the souvenirs gathered on her adventures. Stones of deep black, mystic blues and splashes of earthy hues are wrapped in wire and hung from chains and cords to create the jewelry she sells in her shop, Stones by Sasha.
Sasha was born an artist. She has dabbled in different creative outlets over the years and moved from Modesto to the foothills to pursue culinary arts at Columbia college. Once she took in the vastness and beauty of her new surroundings, Sasha was hooked and fell in love. The towering trees and winding hiking trails have brought her adventure after adventure. Rooting her life here, she never looked back. During this time in college, Sasha met her husband and together they welcomed a new adventurous spirit into the world – their son Maddox.
Following her career path, she became a baker. Baking comes with an exploratory freedom. At home and in school she could experiment with new flavors and textures, adding personal touches to each sweet goody as it cooled after coming out of the warm oven. It seemed like the perfect way to have a career filled with joy. Yet, she soon discovered that her passion was being snuffed out by the stipulations of working for others. They didn’t care for the art more than the money made by it and she no longer had the same freedoms as before. “Turning something you love into a job is not always as rewarding as you think it will be,” she admits. “Instead of putting love into handmade pastries, I was putting mass-produced frozen pastries into an oven.”
What was once a dream became a dread, and the monotony of work clashed with her need to create something real and meaningful. “I needed a passion outside of food, something that would bring back the joy that was lost.”
Earlier in life, Sasha had mastered the use of hemp and beading to create jewelry. She loved the pieces of wire wrapped jewelry she saw online and decided to give it a shot. “I have collected lots of different stones and many of them are just too pretty to sit around the house!” Beginning with patterns and simple wraps to hold crystal points, her passion grew and she expanded her knowledge to make more intricate designs. Friends and family became the recipients as she gifted necklaces of beautiful wire wrapped stones. They saw her talent and encouraged her to pursue it further than a simple hobby.
Sasha threw herself into making the jewelry on a larger scale and began marketing her work to those outside of her social circle. The community has responded with love for her work, and a fascination with the way she incorporates elements of nature within her designs. While some of the stones used in her pendants are bought from others who sourced them out, she still seeks out rocks native to California from their sources.
Sasha scours all over the Sierras, rock hounding for new additions to her collection. Crystal Peak Mine is her favorite spot, where she mines crystals. Located in Sierra County, her family camps the night before and sets out early in the morning on their search. Garnet Hill Mine harbors weighty garnets. For jasper and agate, Sasha hunts local rivers and streams. The adventure of jewelry making brings together her worlds of adventure and creativity for a multifaceted experience. There is a story behind every piece; bringing depth, care and love into her business that cannot be easily matched in every-day consumerism.
“I get inspired by the stones I find rock hounding. Some of the rocks call out to me and I can just visualize them as a beautiful pendant!” - Sasha Nelson
To get in the zone, Sasha creates in environments of happiness and relaxation. “Sometimes when my family plays in the snow, I’ll bring my kit and make some jewelry.” At home, she weaves wire while watching Netflix or sitting at a table outside. Learning to stray from patterns, she delves into new weaves to adorn the refined stones. “I get inspired by other artists on Instagram because of how ornate and detailed their work is,” she says. The elements in her work reflect a willingness to consistently learn new skills for the craft. They're simply beautiful.
Follow Sasha as she discovers new ways to carry love for the earth within ornaments meant to inspire and last.