Visually Speaking: Shannon Graves Jewellery Design

Anna Horsnell

Can anyone ever truly have too much jewellery? Surely not, but deep philosophical questions aside, jewellery seems like the perfect art form to consider in light of Valentine’s Day this month. Whether ornamental, functional, or symbolic, these small pieces of wearable art serve a multitude of purposes, including declarations of love.

Waterville artisan Shannon Graves designs and creates a full range of distinctive jewellery including unique rings, bracelets, earrings, and necklaces. About ten years ago another designer kindly showed her the basics. Graves then continued to learn and teach herself from books and online tutorial videos. Four years ago, she began to show and sell her jewellery at local craft shows and various markets. Today her natural talent and artistic eye are more than evident and gaining attention.

Grave’s passion for design is obvious, as she explains, “I tend to make several different types of jewellery ranging from classic pieces to those with a more “boho” and organic feel. Free-form styles allow me to play with materials such as copper and silver, usually resulting in some decidedly unique and one-of-a-kind pieces. On the other hand, I also enjoy bead weaving using tiny glass seed beads. While following a specific pattern, this sometimes involves counting the beads while stringing them one at a time. I like the focus necessary with this type of beadwork and how it allows me to shut everything else out for just awhile. I actually find it quite therapeutic. I prefer working on larger, bold pieces that tend to make a statement, regardless of the materials used. I gravitate toward a more earthy palette, but am challenging myself to use a brighter range of colours in my upcoming pieces.”

What inspires her? “Many different things ranging from items seen in nature to something as simple as the pattern on a piece of fabric, but my most cherished inspiration is the support and encouragement from friends and family, my clients, and last, but not least, my fellow artisans whose faith in my abilities as a jeweller is the driving force behind me. At the moment I’m working on finding and learning new techniques that I can apply to the new pieces I am planning.”

We don’t always consider how to care for our jewellery, but it is important. Graves offers several tips, “Keep your jewellery pieces in an airtight container to keep out moisture which can discolour and tarnish most metals. Cleaning jewellery is best done with a soft jeweller’s cloth or polishing pad. I find chemical cleaners to be harsh and, if used incorrectly, can strip jewellery of certain finishes.” And when it comes to wearing jewellery, she adds, “It’s not always necessary to match your jewellery. Wear pieces that compliment each other. Don’t wait for a special occasion to wear that treasured piece and let it speak for itself. Finally, remember, sometimes less is more.”

Shannon Graves Jewellery will be available at the new Art & Soul store location opening soon in Berwick. She also hopes to return to The Big Red Barn just outside of Berwick once it reopens in the spring. For more information, please email