After focusing on painting and art history in college, Susan Helmich decided to take a metalsmithing class, diving deep into the history and evolution of metal work techniques. Soon after, everything fell into place. “Working directly with the metal was second nature to me,” Helmich enlightens. “I knew I had found my niche, and the rest is history.”
Helmich’s designs break free from the traditional world of fine jewelry, and she continuously strives to dazzle her customers and the industry. “My reputation in the fine jewelry industry over the years has become: ‘Expect the unexpected from Susan Helmich,’” she says.
The jewelry design veteran travels between her houses in Colorado and Arizona to run Opus Fine Jewelry in Scottsdale, Arizona. The gallery houses some of the finest and greatest works by artists including Helmich’s popular lines, “Seasons” and “Angels with Attitude,” and also collections from her business partner, Claudia Kretchmer.
While attending industry shows, Helmich developed an artistic camaraderie with Kretchmer’s late stepfather, Steven, often sharing thoughts, ideas and artistic technique. Helmich and Claudia were introduced shortly after and their friendship enveloped from there. The duo became even closer after the loss of Claudia’s parents four years ago.
“Today we share a vision, an inspiration, design ideas and a relationship that continues through love, respect and keeping a dream alive,” Helmich explains.
Inspiration for Helmich has always come through the people who have touched her mind and heart, as well as through life itself. The chance for her to express her unique artistic ability and metal work can be seen through the colors and gems she chooses for her collections. “Precious metals and gems are elements that connect us directly with our ancestors, our ancient past and earth’s elements,” Helmich expresses. “As an artist and goldsmith, I have chosen my palette of gems and precious metals to translate these ideas and feelings into fine jewelry.”
The art of communication also has become a strong inspiration for Helmich. Her collection “Angels with Attitude” showcases angel-shaped pendants, brooches, lapels and pins created to invoke meaning and sentiment for the wearer. Customers can choose a mood, expression or emotion aimed to reflect how the people surrounding them have made their life special. “I view jewelry as personal sculpture, and therefore, a vehicle of communication in its most primitive form,” Helmich explains. The line features angels of certainty, harmony, courage and grace and more.
Helmich’s designs also incorporate the use of fresh, vibrant colors – purple, green and orange being her favorites. The “Seasons” collection showcases many of these colors through a series of full and mini pendants suitable for any year-round occasion.
The pendants are reversible, available in white or yellow gold. Each seasonal pendant captures the essence of what that time of the year symbolizes.
Helmich also looks to music as a way of communication and created her favorite collection, “Rhapsody in Blue,” as an ode to the generation of music she experienced while she was growing up. “Again, music being another form of expression and communication I wanted to translate this into gold, platinum and the deep colors of tanzanite,” she says.” “Each piece was created in the same subtle sculptural beauty found in stringed instruments.”
Helmich’s fine jewelry work has remained at the forefront of the market, and the creative juices don’t seem to be running out anytime soon for this artist. “Lately, I am exploring bridal design,” Helmich hints. “I have more ideas than I can produce in one lifetime!”