Copper in the Arts

December 2014

Wrapped in Copper: The Jewelry of Jean Bey

By Jennifer Hetrick

copper wire wrapped precious gemstone artJean Bey copper wire wrapped precious gemstone art.

Jean Bey and her family operate Bey’s Rock Shop in Bechtelsville, Pennsylvania, where she took her love of precious gems to a new level with her intricate copper wire-wrapped jewelry designs.

Bey was first inspired to make her signature jewelry after watching jewelry artist Jim Fowler at a craft show in Hicksville, New York. Always having admired Fowler’s abilities and craftsmanship, Bey was still hesitant to try her hand at it until a customer told her he taught wire wrapping. The rest is history. Bey gathered a handful of other local people who wanted to learn the craft, and they’d all spend time together learning how to wrap wire and develop final finished jewelry pieces on Sundays when the shop was closed. Soon, she began experimenting with various styles and gems, focusing on pendants, necklaces, earrings and occasionally rings, too.

And while she loves making jewelry, she herself rarely wears it but is always happy to see others enjoy what she fashions for them. Some of her jewelry stems from her own inspirations, as she finds herself drawn to certain stones or crystals, and oftentimes customers make special requests. Many clients have asked her to create a piece of jewelry using a specific stone or gem they found somewhere else or bought at the shop, and they ask her to design them into pendants for themselves or their friends and family.

She has also wrapped parts of elk antlers, elk teeth and fossilized shark teeth into her jewelry—and even coprolite (also known as fossilized dinosaur dung) which can be surprisingly beautiful in red hues. Sometimes Bey is able to incorporate not only copper wire but also copper as the polished piece and focal point in a pendant. One past example of this stood as a captivatingly speckled cut of black and white calcite with copper mixed into it.

“I like stones the best,” Bey says, given that her family’s lives have been devoted to rocks since the shop opened in 1961.

Bey prefers copper to other metals because of its accessibility and versatility. “Copper is more flexible and pliable than other metals and also less expensive,” Bey says. “And it’s easy to bend it and make little curls I like to make.”

Resources:

Bey’s Rock Shop, 615 Route 100 North, Bechtelsville, PA 19505, (610) 369-0180

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