Johanna Ingram is a professionally trained jeweler living and working in Phoenix, Arizona. Her company is named after her late grandpa Harold, who was one of the first people who encouraged her to pursue jewelry making, and even bought her first pair of earrings! After training and working with high end jewelry designers in San Francisco, Johanna decided to move back home to Arizona to pursue her independent career as a jewelry designer, where she launched Harold Jewelry. Inspired by the subtle textures and colors of the desert, her work is raw, natural and effortlessly feminine. She also runs Harold Studio, where she teaches classes in the evenings and opens up her studio space to local jewelers. Our interview with Johanna is below the break. Shop Harold Jewelry.
What's your background? Tell us a little about yourself.
I grew up in Arizona and after joining a lapidary club in college, discovered their silversmithing lab. I instantly fell in love with jewelry making and decided to go to school for it in San Francisco. After graduating, I got an amazing job doing production work for a high end jewelry designer and worked for them for 5 years, all the while really improving my skills. During this time, having a studio was really on my mind. I wanted to create a space where I could make jewelry and also let other jewelers come in and use all of the equipment I have to make their own jewelry as well. I opened up my studio in 2011 and it has really evolved over the past several years. We have hundreds of jewelers that use our space, as well as classes in the evenings. During the day, I produce my own jewelry line and also do production work for some other jewelry designers.
In a few words, how would you describe your work?
Why did you open Harold Jewelry? Any meaning to the name?
It was something I had been wanting to do for a long time. After years of selling my work in local and regional shows, I developed my artistic voice and have been creating jewelry that follows that aesthetic ever since. Harold Jewelry is named after my late grandfather Harold. He encouraged me to pursue jewelry making and bought many of my first pieces to give to grandchildren for Christmas and birthdays.
What's the best thing about running a small business?
As a woman, I would say the best thing about running a small business is the confidence it has given me in myself and my abilities. I have created a job for myself and that is incredibly empowering. I am creating something out of nothing and there are people who want to buy what I have made! That is the best feeling to have someone love what you have done and want to pay you for it.
Can you tell us about some of your favorite materials you use? Why do you love them? Where do you source your materials?
Labradorite. There is such a beautiful rainbow effect that reflects off of it depending on how the light hits it, the same stone can look blue or green or gray depending on the light. I get all of my metal from here in the US. Most of it comes from a refiner in California. My stones mostly come from here in the US, many of which are from here in Arizona.
Dream project / future plans?
I really feel like I am living it right now. I would love to move into more gold and precious gemstones than I currently have.
Favorite artist(s) in any field, living or dead?
Judith Kaufman. I would love to meet her some day!
What's the first thing you ever remember making?
An silver ring with a square agate cabochon.
You live in the dry desert of Tucson - how does your environment impact your work?
There is something so romantic about the desert. I love it and it definitely impacts my work. The subtle textures and colors of the desert inspire my design choices.
What advice would you give to someone just starting out?
I would say make as much as you can at first. Don’t focus on perfection, every piece you make will bring you closer to it and make you a better jeweler. Once you do have a body of work, try some craft shows to see what the public likes. Once you have a few craft shows under your belt, try to develop a cohesive aesthetic and then stick to it. Make what you love making and be transparent with your stores.