ARTISTS AT WORK: Green Lake in Chicago

At Green Lake, you’ll see our little ‘artists at work’ slogan just about everywhere; it’s on our signage, on our letterhead, and on the little copper boxes in which each ring we craft is delivered. This slogan (by the way) is absolutely true, and this month there are two artists in particular you really need to meet: Kelsey Kudriavtseff and Colin Skelly.

You might not readily see them in the store, as a majority of their time is spent in the workshop tucked back from the glitz of the display cases, but they’re very much at the heart of we do. Both recently returned from Chicago, where they mixed with the bigwigs of jewelry and competed against the best in the industry at one of the largest annual exhibitions in the country – The Smart Show – and both cleaned up, killed it, smashed it, call it what you will…they prevailed outstandingly.

smart show



Each spring America’s jewelry leaders rally for The Smart Jewelry Show, a pow-wow for the who’s who in retail that’s hosted annually by Instore and Indesign magazines. As much a trade conference as it is an exhibition of skill, the Smart Show pits the best bench jewelers and 3D CAD modelers against each other in its ‘Bench Pressure Challenge.’ Year after year, Green Lake artists not only qualify to compete, but shine in a myriad of categories: From virtual environments where rings are developed on CAD in front of a live audience to more tried and true old world skills, like setting and engraving a piece at the bench.

This year we are happy to report that our own 3D modeling phenom Kelsey Kudriavtseff brought home the gold as the 2014 CAD champion and pro bench artist Colin Skelly received the distinguished honor of being the best hand engraver in show!

Green Lake Designer Kelsey Kudriavtseff sketching live with a lucky bride-to-be in a contest sponsored by The Knot.




Kelsey Kudriavtseff

At Green Lake, Kelsey Kudriavtseff manages the CAD operation, checking virtual 3D designs for production viability and keeping the CNC milling machines and state-of-the-art 3D resin printers humming throughout the shop. Basically, in the process of making custom engaging rings and wedding bands, it’s in her area of modeling – and model-making – where pieces really start to come alive. But Kelsey is also perhaps one of Green Lake’s most influential designers, contributing a good share of original rings to Green Lake’s Signature Designs.

In Chicago this past month, Kelsey competed against America’s top modelers in a head-to-head design-off sponsored by The Knot, where one lucky bride–to-be got to put them to test. Working briefly with each designer in front of a live audience to communicate the ring of her dreams, each competitor set off to create a model ready for production and win her approval. Though the betrothed selected a more traditional ring in the end, it was Kelsey’s design that took the final award. Its organic taper, delicate crisscross and above all its ability to be produced as it was shown all contributed to her win. Congratulations again, Kelsey!

The winning ring voted by judges, a ribbon-inspired custom engagement ring in platinum:

(To learn more about Kelsey’s work or to make an appointment for a custom engagement ring or wedding band, see her Green Lake bio.) 



Colin Skelly

In Chicago Colin Skelly was named as the best engraver this year, winning with a pattern he only began sketching on the airplane ride out. He sketched his pattern (one almost reminiscent of a wild, blossoming garden in the spring) over and over until every leaf, curl and petal was known to him as distinctly as his own signature.

By the time he was seated at the bench, encircled by badge-clad judges and craning cameras, Colin already knew exactly what he was doing. With only a mere two hour window to engrave just one-half of their sample 14ky gold bands, he completed the entire ring – top to bottom – with time to spare. That’s fast!

Colin’s engraving sample is pictured at the top of this stunning collection of pieces fashioned in only 2-hours

Colin is a modest yet calculating jeweler. By incorporating multiple techniques – from carved elements to relief and bright-cut* engraving – the ring pops with crisp detail and catches the light of the room not unlike a faceted gemstone.

*Bright-cut engraving: By carving out a pattern in platinum, inlaying it with gold, then adding precise bright-cuts throughout, an otherwise simple wedding band is imparted with more movement and flash than you could ever see in anything mass produced. See this web short for this type of ring in action:

ENGRAVING SLIDE from Green Lake Jewelry Works on Vimeo.

To learn more about Colin Skelly and see his body of work here at Green Lake, visit his bio page

About the author:

Eric Robertson is a writer, illustrator and creative lead for Green Lake Jewelry Works.