Golden Artistry owner romances the stone

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The jewelry display case at Golden Artistry in La Mesa Village sparkles with stones and metals and all things precious. Owner Terry Whyte is well known throughout East County for his nature-based custom designed jewelry. 

Whyte particularly enjoys working with 18k yellow gold. “It’s soft and easy to form, has rich color, and it polishes in a snap,” he said.

Any favorite gemstones? “I like all stones,” he said.

The jewelry display case at Golden Artistry in La Mesa Village sparkles with stones and metals and all things precious. Owner Terry Whyte is well known throughout East County for his nature-based custom designed jewelry. 

Whyte particularly enjoys working with 18k yellow gold. “It’s soft and easy to form, has rich color, and it polishes in a snap,” he said.

Any favorite gemstones? “I like all stones,” he said.

But his favorite stones are opal, pearl and sphene. “Opal and sphene throw so many colors.  Pearls come in many colors and a fine one is almost transparent. They seem to glow,” he said.

Glowing could describe the people who come into Golden Artistry, either for the first time or repeat customers. On a recent afternoon, Alexandra and David Dumas walked into the shop after admiring the plumeria pendant that Whyte had fashioned out of yellow gold and a single diamond. 

“This is really beautiful work,” Dumas said, asking to try on one of the wedding rings in the display case.

As she slipped on the ring, her husband laughed. “It might be time for an upgrade on your wedding ring,” he said.

Quite a bit of romancing happens within Golden Artistry, such as with the couple that would commission him to create a one-of-a-kind piece of jewelry every few years.

“They would give me a pile of money and few requirements, and turn me loose. Every project was wonderful, and a chance for me to stretch my creative muscles. 

“He came to me one year and explained that his wife had just gotten a total mastectomy. He wanted a bracelet for her. I wanted to make something for her that reinforced her femininity. I made a piece called “Beautiful Woman” that showed an abstract female form with beautiful flowing lines accented by an Amethyst and Diamonds,” Whyte said.

This romance Whyte has had with jewelry got its start, “quite by accident,” as he admitted. While in college, working on a degree in math and biology, Whyte enrolled in a silver soldering class.

“I was compelled to try it, but at home.” he said.

Whyte created a ring with turquoise, earning an ‘A,’ when he turned in the project. He ended up turning in three times more projects than the other students, earning ‘A’s on every one of them, no matter what media.

“At that point, I saw the writing on the wall,” he said.

A Native American jewelry seller called the college, inquiring who could do jewelry repairs. Whyte ended up getting the position. 

“By the semester’s end, I was in business. People saw what I was making, and orders started coming in,” Whyte said.

After about another two years, Whyte married and the newlyweds honeymooned in Hawaii. He had already lived in Hawaii for three years during high school and made many friends. After six weeks in Hawaii, the newlywed couple decided to stay there and Whyte soon got a job as Goldsmith’s Apprentice, a jewelry manufacturer on the island of Oahu.  

Whyte’s career in jewelry making took another leap when one day an English Goldsmith told Whyte to let him know if he needed any help.

“That was very fortunate as he trained me in the formal manner of building jewelry for the next five years. All through this, my parents kept telling me to get a real job. They wanted me in science,” Whyte said.

Several years ago, Whyte started a program with the schools of East County, giving students an opportunity to design their own piece of jewelry. The winner receives his or her own custom-designed piece. 

“I wanted to pass along the opportunity to students to experience the joys of making jewelry,” Whyte said.

Elizabeth Greenblat, a student of Steel Canyon High School, has been interning with Whyte in the shop. 

“It took me only about a week before I knew that I wanted to do this kind of work,” said Greenblat, pulling from the case an angel pendant. 

“This is my favorite piece in the shop. It’s my hope to design things like this,” she said, explaining that the pendant was made with 14K rose, white and yellow gold, diamonds and a tanzanite stone.

Whyte’s wife Nancy has her favorites, too. Terry won a Best of Show at the Del Mar Fair in 1994 for his “Stone Dropped in a Pond” pendant of abalone pearl with a pink tourmaline. 

“He gave it to me. I love that piece,” she said.

“I didn’t have the heart to sell it,” Whyte said. “I found the abalone pearl while diving in Hawaii.” 

For young people today interested in becoming a jewelry designer Whyte has a few tips. “Find a mentor. Intern in everything that you have the slightest interest in. Become a Graduate Gemologist. Take art history classes,” Whyte said.

Golden Artistry is located at 8346 La Mesa Boulevard. To make an appointment with Whyte, call 619-589-7454, or just come into the shop.

4 COMMENTS

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