Amy Waltz Designs in Chico
By Melissa Mendonca
Jewelry for the Journey
By Melissa Mendonca
Photos courtesy of Amy Waltz Designs
With each stamp of a letter or solder of metal, or placement of stone in a piece of Amy Waltz Designs jewelry, an intention is set, a prayer is said.
“There is a deeper meaning to jewelry,” says Waltz, proprietor of the Chico-based business. “It’s that hidden mantra that’s on that necklace. It houses a deeper soul connection for me.”
There have been many crossroads for Waltz, who says she graduated Chico State “eager to climb the corporate ladder” and put her public relations and Spanish degrees to work. Values changed when she decided to start a family with husband Michael Waltz.
“When I decided to have children, I wanted to do something that kept me with them,” she says. “I looped back to my grandfather’s work. Ever since I can remember, my grandfather was a photographer. His passion was photography.”
With photography came the opportunity to connect with her subjects and create images for them that would become treasured memories. She wanted the images to be kept in special lockets a person could wear. She began creating the lockets, opening up an entirely new outlet for creativity and service.
For years, Waltz created jewelry and maintained a thriving photography business while homeschooling sons Gage and Bennett, now 17 and 15. Eventually she needed to choose between jewelry and photography, so she put to use the meditation skills her father taught her as a child. “I just spent a good amount of time getting quiet to determine which would allow me to use the greatest skill,” she says. “Growing up, my dad was a practitioner of raising human consciousness. Early on he taught me skills to get still, to get quiet, to meditate. He was the one to take me out in nature.”
When jewelry emerged as the direction, she knew it would be to a higher purpose. “It’s rooted in this fierce need to help humanity, and jewelry happens to be my vehicle,” she says. Amy Waltz Designs launched in 2011 with an Etsy shop, where she quickly became a top-seller. Waltz was a pioneer of hand-stamping messages onto metal to create mantra messages to wear.
“I’m completely self-taught,” she says. “I took some classes at String Bead. I watched some videos. But more than that I just really had a vision early on. I was one of the first to hand stamp, and that’s when I became popular on Etsy.” Her work has been featured in Vogue and Lucky Magazines as well as Huffington Post.
While the early success at Etsy was a boon, she also struggled with the format when, in 2015, it started accepting vendors who did not hand-make their work. She doubled down her efforts, built her own website for direct sales and determined to make things work.
Her grit and gumption were buoyed by a customer’s story of her work. “I had a gal reach out to me, way back when I was operating out of my home,” says Waltz. “She had breast cancer.” She asked Waltz to stamp the word “Heal” on a hemp-wrapped bracelet for her. “The big message of the piece was that when it had done its work, it would fall off.” The piece was meant to be worn 24 hours a day and never taken off. “As I was stamping, I was crying, just pouring so much love into it.” Many months later, the woman called back to tell Waltz the bracelet had fallen off in her doctor’s office during a visit when she was declared cancer-free.
“Yes, yes, yes,” says Waltz, passion and determination in her voice. “This is the reason I am doing this. I will not give up. To help someone’s journey is the greatest gift.”
Production has since moved from Waltz’s house to a studio and showroom near the Chico Airport, where Waltz is a proud employer of local artisans and can meet her customers while maintaining her website sales. “It’s really special because you can hear us making it as you shop,” she says. “We are constantly launching new products. I really try to be ahead of the curve, ahead of the trend.”
“Right now, we’re working in a lot of fine metals. When we started, we used a lot of base metals,” she adds. “We work in as many sustainable metals as we can. We work with turquoise. It’s the most grounding of all the gemstones. We want these to be pieces that will be worn and loved for many years. We’re a culture that wants everything cheap and fast, and that’s the exact antithesis of what we do. I call it slow jewelry, even.”
Slow jewelry designed by an artist who knows the value of getting still. “We cannot make a difference if we aren’t at peace within ourselves,” says Waltz. “As long as I continue to inspire I am on the right path.”•
Amy Waltz Designs • www.amywaltz.com
290 Airpark Blvd., Chico • Studio open Wednesday-Friday, 1-4pm