Susan Helmich (b. 1951) In an October 2010 article, Runway Magazine profiled Susan Helmich and wrote, “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.’”
Born in Los Angeles, California, Helmich says she was a child of curiosity with an investigative and engineering mind. Her days were filled with wonder and discovery in both nature and technology.
For more than 35 years since she began her career as an artist in Compton, California, she has utilized goldsmithing as her vehicle of expression and fine gems to enhance the colors of her palette. Her design inspirations are derived from origins that include art history, archeology, the sea, and music.
Experts note that Helmich’s designs are a break from the traditional world of fine jewelry as she continues to dazzle customers and the industry. “My reputation in the fine jewelry industry over the years has become: ‘Expect the unexpected from Susan Helmich,’ she says.
Helmich travels between her houses in Colorado and Arizona to run Opus Fine Jewelry in Scottsdale, Arizona. That gallery displays pieces from some of the greatest artists including Helmich’s popular lines, Seasons and Angels with Attitude. The gallery also displays collections of her business partner, Claudia Kretchmer.
The ways in which the world communicates is also strong inspiration for Helmich. Her collection Angels with Attitude showcases angel-shaped pendants, brooches, and pins that invoke meaning and sentiment for the wearer. Buyers choose a mood, expression or emotion that reflects how the people in their lives 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 others.
Helmich’s designs also use fresh, vibrant colors that include purple, green and orange which are her favorites. The Seasons collection employs many of these colors in a series of full and mini pendants that can be worn year-round for any occasion.
The pendants are reversible and available in white or yellow gold. Each seasonal pendant captures the essence of the time of the year it symbolizes.
Helmich also perceives music as another form of communication. She created her favorite collection, Rhapsody in Blue, as an ode to the music that she heard while growing up. She translated her inspiration into gold, platinum and the deep colors of tanzanite. She’s said that each piece was created using a subtle sculptural beauty found in stringed instruments.
Over the years, Helmich has received numerous awards and accolades. These include the MJSA American Designer of the Year award that she received in 1991 at Exhibition Milano, Italy. She also received the Women’s Jewelry Association Design Excellence Award in 1996.
Her forays to Japan resulted in winning the Japan International Pearl Association design competition awards in 1990, 1991, and 1992. Helmich was invited to display her creations at the Exhibit: Munsteiner Atelier, in Germany in 2002.
Helmich served as President of the American Jewelry Design Council from 2000 to 2003.
An exhibit at the Smithsonian Institute’s Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art that continues until March 2018 showcases Helmich’s Midnight Dreamscape, a brooch she designed and fabricated that features a gem intarsia created by Nicolai Medvedev.
The 18k yellow gold brooch is accented with diamonds and a 10mm South Sea pearl. The intarsia includes azurite malachite from Bisbee, AZ in the center, framed by Australian white opal, and bordered by malachite from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
‘Intarsia’ is the term applied to both the art of stone and wood inlay where pieces of the same thickness are precisely shaped to fit closely together without gaps or grout.
In September 2017, the online site A$AP announced that TRVPGXD, under the creative direction of ASAP Relli, had partnered with Helmich to produce a limited edition, signature pendant collection. The collection was produced in the US and is paired with a 4mm diamond cut rope chain. The A$AP and TRAPGXD pendant, as well as the chains, are crafted out of .925 solid sterling silver. Both pendants and chains are also available in 14K gold, and 14k gold with VVS diamonds.
Also, recently, Helmich was honored by the AGTA Spectrum Awards for her object d’Art titled “Neverland”.
“I believe that a great design is timeless with its inherent value being the culmination of artful communication through extraordinary design, extraordinary elements and excellence in craftsmanship.” Susan Helmich – 2014Sell Susan Helmich All Artists