Hitting a hammer onto plain pieces of jewelry and imprinting customized text on it has become a business for Darian Hyde, a junior biology major. She puts a piece of plain metal on a steel stage and uses thin stamps that she lines up on the piece. These stamps come in individual letters, so she’ll take out whatever letters the text requires and place them on the plain metal. She imprints the stamps on the piece after she’s hit it with a hammer a few times. To finish, she puts enamel into the crevice of the metal, which makes the imprint visible.
After years of making jewelry she kept for herself or gave to friends and family as gifts, Hyde started selling it for a profit. The hand-stamped jewelry she currently sells is primarily for a fundraiser for Dancing Dukes, a club she’s involved in. She also promotes her work to people outside the JMU community.
Hyde makes various pieces of jewelry, including thin bar-shaped necklaces, a bar-shaped keychain that has space for longer text, a circle keychain and bracelets that resemble bangles. All of the pieces she creates follow the requests people send to her.
“For me, it’s just like a challenge,” Hyde said. “I enjoy seeing what people send in and seeing how I can space it. I like seeing what they want things to say and I feel like I got to know them a little bit. It makes me smile when I make them.”
Hyde started making jewelry with beads when she was in middle school and moved onto making hand-stamped jewelry last summer. She believes hand-stamped projects are easier because there are less pieces to work with.
Most of the materials she uses come from craft stores like Hobby Lobby and Michaels. She buys metal bars, key rings, chains, clasps and jump rings for necklaces and keychains. She takes those small parts and starts assembling them on her own.
The jewelry Hyde makes is customized. Anyone who buys her pieces can submit a form online which allows them to pick the text, font and style of jewelry.Hyde receives this information and starts working on the projects on her own. She also wants to provide the best deals for her customers.
“I saw a couple of Etsy shops that were selling them for like $20-30, and it costs like $2-5 to make depending on the materials used,” Hyde said. “So I thought that was absurdly expensive and I could sell them for way cheaper. I have a whole campus of people that would be interested in buying them and it’d be at a way discounted price.”
Hyde tries to finish making the jewelry a day or two after the order’s been placed. Once she’s done making the jewelry, she’ll email the person and let them know it’s ready. They’ll figure out a place to meet on campus, and if Hyde isn’t around, she’ll ask her friends to drop off the finished pieces for her.
Hyde makes custom gifts for her friends as well. She made a ring that said “keep going” for the president of Dancing Dukes and roommate, junior psychology major Raquel Dash. She’s also made other crafts for her roommate who believes that Hyde should start a business with her art because she has a talent.
“I’ve said that to her several times because she also does a bunch of other things,” Dash said. “She creates canvases, she made a pillow for me and painted a quote on it, and people think I bought it when she's the one that made it. She's great with a bunch of things.”
Hyde worked at Michaels and believes her time working there helped her get better at crafting. She even took classes at Michaels, which taught her how to make jewelry. She knows how to fix jewelry that’s damaged or tangled.
Sophomore chemistry major Melissa Andris bought necklaces from Hyde for herself. She’s also Hyde’s teammate and has seen the jewelry being promoted through social media.
“I've never heard of anyone being able to make these necklaces, and to me, they look professional,” Andris said. “It looks like she's constantly making them so I think everyone is interested and likes them.”
Hyde wants to start selling the jewelry outside the fundraiser and is thinking about opening her own Etsy shop this summer.
“I think people were impressed at first and a lot of it looks store-bought and manufactured,” Hyde said. “I make a lot of different things and I’d like to open an Etsy shop to sell things for a little extra money on the side.”
Contact Vanessa Nikolic at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more on the culture, arts and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Twitter @Breeze_Culture.