Jacob Midgett grew up in the mountains of North Carolina where his father, Steven Midgett, had a studio right next to the house. In those years, while Steven was working his way to becoming a master of Damascus Steel and Mokume Gane, Jacob was working his way through using up his father’s extra material and learning all he could.
That early education in the mountains, hours of tromping around in nature and stump hunting with his bow and arrow, led to a deep appreciation for nature. Jacob credits his father with teaching him that creativity flourishes when inspired by beauty, the beauty of the natural world.
In 2012, a few years after Jacob received a degree in Industrial Design from the Savannah College of Art and Design, Steven Midgett invited his son to join him in starting a business to develop a ring making process for the patterned material he creates. Today, they are Steven Jacob Jewelry, top maker of Mokume Gane custom wedding rings, and one of a rising tide of jewelers using environmentally-conscious precious metals and responsibly-mined gemstones.
Mokume Game is a Japanese metalworking process that produces distinctive layered patterns or “wood grain metal.” Intentional patterns can be achieved with a highly skilled hand and in-depth knowledge of how metal melts and flows. Steven Jacob’s jewelry designs mimic nature’s most magnificent patterns and are named as such, “Epic Wood” and “Rising Tide” to name just two.
Beyond the patterns, the truest form of adoration of nature that Steven Jacob expresses is in their sustainable practices. According to Jacob Midgett, “Repurposing, recycling and choosing raw materials that come with the least impact isn’t an inexpensive option, but it’s the one with the greatest payoff down the road.”
Choosing Canadian Fair Mined Diamonds, for example, can add 10 to 20 percent to the cost. But it comes with peace of mind knowing that strict laws are in place to protect Canadian wildlife and water from irresponsible mining, and that aboriginal communities benefit through fair labor jobs.
As a small custom jewelry company, Steven Jacob sees the opportunity to continually adapt the business as they find new opportunities to be more sustainable. Recently, they jumped on the chance to donate to a fundraising auction for Pure Earth, a non-profit dedicated to finding solutions to major pollutants. Gold mining with mercury being a cause that ranks high on the list, Pure Earth seeks to re-educate miners with non-toxic techniques.
Steve and Jacob Midgett see their work as a celebration of nature, water, and the love and commitment between two people. Their joy in creating beautiful handcrafted jewelry is evident in their smiles and the warmth of interactions with each person that purchases a ring from them. And what a treat to know it comes with a commitment to not only achieving, but setting a higher standard for the jewelry industry.
Steven Jacob has a studio in Boulder, Colorado and one in Franklin, North Carolina. Find more details at www.mokume.com.
Photos courtesy of Steven Jacob Jewelry.