Eric Bowley isn’t just a jewelry maker, he’s a story-teller. Whether it’s through his photography, music or silver rings crafted from antique spoons, he creates and shares his work in a way that weaves old with new, breathing life into remote places and designing jewelry from forgotten family heirlooms.
Bowley’s company, Kimberlin Silver Co., features over 700 one-of-a-kind silver rings, all created from silver spoons and forks collected from dusty corners of antique stores. Bowley, 27, started the company a couple years ago, when his girlfriend at the time wore a spoon ring. He saw the attention the ring garnered, and when his sister wanted to buy them for her wedding party, he decided he would try to make them for her.
Bowley started with stainless steel spoons, which he says were almost impossible to shape into rings. Then, he bought some silver spoons, and says they turned out great. “This is a lot of fun,” Bowley remembers thinking. He decided to invest some money, and made about 20 rings, which he says sold out quickly. For two years he treated it as a side-job, but in January, he quit his business development job and started making rings full-time.
Bowley says the idea for spoon rings dates back hundreds of years, when servants working for wealthy families would steal silver flatware to make wedding bands. “There are police reports, so that’s how you know they date back that far,” he explains.
“As I look at this I see a really unique product. Whenever I show a ring to somebody, I get this opportunity to see a light switch go on,” he explains. “Obviously this is a niche,” Bowley says. “But, there’s an opportunity to find a niche within this.” Bowley says he sees that niche in weddings; he’s often done rings for brides and grooms who want unique gifts for their wedding parties.
He says he sometimes makes rings from people’s personal spoon collections, but that he loves the search. “I’m perpetually treasure-hunting. It’s nonstop.” Bowley shows me one ring with a sailboat design, then points out the engraving on the inside of the ring, which reads “Olympic Hotel.” Bowley picks another ring with a simple flower design. “This one is probably 100 years old,” Bowley says. “Just imagine the people who used that spoon to eat.”
Bowley has almost his entire inventory listed on Etsy, and has started selling locally at the Fremont Sunday Farmers Market. He’s looking into selling at the Ballard Artisan Market, which will be starting up sometime this month.