Determined to excite and inspire owners to “push the boundaries of conventional jewelry wear,” the talent “keeps her hands busy” by casting and carving jewelry through a process known as the lost-wax casting technique.
“Dusted from the archives of the wax mold graveyard, the initial wax pattern is made in three ways,” she said. “I hand-carve the piece in wax, modify an existing object, or hand cast vintage molds. I bring vintage pieces dating between 1950 through 1990 back to life!”
Pieces are made of non-plated metals – brass and bronze – that never chip. Chains are sterling silver, gold-filled, or rose gold-filled. Cromer alloys and casts her sterling silver from silver coins purchased locally.
The Ocean Beach native has been fueled by an artistic drive since age 11. The budding novice sewed clothing purchased from local Thrift shops so they could “fit better” while making them “my own.”
College bound, a short stint at San Francisco State University ignited her desire to segue into an art career. She then transferred to the San Francisco Academy of Art for Fashion Design. Two years short of graduating, she returned to Ocean Beach to establish herself as a local artisan.
Cromer’s wearable art venture began with one-of-a-kind clothing and jewelry – crocheted by hand. Clothing was crocheted from the hem up and jewelry evolved from wire crocheted with “sound objects.” Vintage sweaters were unraveled and re-crocheted as new.
Despite her success at open markets and small boutiques, Cromer knew she needed to learn more about the “business” of selling her crafts. So, she headed to New York to complete her degree in Fashion Design at Parson’s School of Design.
“My New York education was integral to my growth as an entrepreneur,” she said. “I learned valuable lessons in business and professionalism. I learned how to pay attention to details like packaging and presentation and how to interact with customers. Beforehand, as the artist, I tended to think only about the piece, not about why or how the piece was worn or the reaction of those who see it.”
Upon graduation, Cromer worked for several small New York boutiques as a buyer and manager until she landed in an antique-inspired jewelry shop. She “cut her teeth” on what became her passion.
“I learned about the history of jewelry, how to hand-carve in wax, the use of gems, materials and pricing,” she said. “And I fell in love with all of it.”
Five years in New York was long enough to send the 30-something back to Ocean Beach.
Today, Lady Cromer makes “powerful” jewelry that links the wearer with “something greater than ourselves.” Inspired by nature and nostalgia, the high-fashion aficionado connects her jewelry to the past in a “whimsical and sophisticated way” while striving to appeal to the sophisticated consumer.
“I’m alternative in a sophisticated way,” she said. “I make jewelry that I want to wear. Wearable art that comes from the earth.”
But I love high-fashion and dream of Lady Cromer one day walking the runway.”
Cromer learns best by “jumping in, hands on.” Clients share alternative ideas for custom pieces knowing that, “I will be able to translate their ideas and create their visions.”
The Labyrinth Ring – a fan favorite modified from a vintage toy, represents wholeness and completion. Hand cast and made-to-order, Cromer “loves this bold statement piece that’s likely to capture the attention of those around you.”
Little Fred, a double-finger Dinosaur ring, was inspired by a pin gifted from her sister. The ring became a “self-taught” project because it was too expensive for someone else to make. Little Fred began her collection and to this day, remains her favorite piece.
Cromer described her Molar Ring as her homage to jewelry making.
“Dentists use the same process to cast a crown that jewelers use to cast jewelry,” she said. “Even the tools are the same. During the Victorian Age baby teeth were set into jewelry and worn as love tokens. Intricate and valuable pieces still exist. My molar rings pay homage to the history and the process of making jewelry.”
Dedicated to inspire the “women of tomorrow to do great things,” philanthropy is an integral part of Lady Cromer Jewelry. Twice a year, a different charity is chosen to receive a percentage of sales.
“We endeavor to support young women by donating one percent of every purchase to community scholarships,” she concluded.
Cromer’s breathtaking collectibles include Little Fred the Dinosaur, the Goldfish, the Molar, the Adjustable Shank, and the Whale – all rings – and the Whale Necklace. The Lion, Tiger, and the Labyrinth Ring and its necklace are modified from existing objects. The Vintage Vaults collection is hand-cast from vintage molds. Cromer’s Holiday Letterpress Type Collection includes the All-Seeing Eye signet rings and The Victorians.
In addition to her website and etsy, Lady Cromer continues to sell in local open markets and bazaars and local boutiques including Ocean Beach Water Baby.
- Visit ladycromer.com to see more and to purchase jewelry from Ocean Beach native April Cromer.