Jordan Dzierwa is the founder and designer of Skydog Jewelry. A Los Angeles jewelry designer for nearly five years, he sends his handmade rings to customers all over the world and is truly invested in the customer experience.
Jordan particularly loves working with natural materials, like Carico turquoise mined from an ancient lake bed in central Nevada, dreamy Australian opals, and custom-cut diamonds.
In this interview, Jordan provides insight into the Skydog Jewelry origin story, shares his hopes and plans for the future of the brand, and describes the vision for an upcoming new silver collection.
How did you start designing jewelry, and how long have you been doing it?
Five years ago, I saw various people online hand-making jewelry and was drawn to it. So I bought a bunch of tools and supplies and figured I’d teach myself. I was instantly hooked and sold everything I owned to fund this new project.
Eventually I quit my job to pursue this full time. It was a bold move but one that has paid off. My father and his father were both jewelers, so I definitely inherited some skills. By the time I was grown, my dad had already retired from the business, so there was never any talk of me being a jeweler. But I somehow found my way into the industry anyway.
Skydog will be five years old in August, and I feel a sense of composure and confidence in designing jewelry. It has been such a trial by fire, but I wouldn’t change a thing.
What are the people, places, and things that have been influencing your most recent designs?
Many of my pieces are inspired by two factors: wearability and quality stones. I usually start with the stones that I’m obsessing over and try to design pieces anyone can wear. Most of the pieces I make are fairly simple, so I can focus on making them well and using high-quality materials.
I have also been mildly obsessing over Paul Newman, who often wore a simple gold ID bracelet, a classic piece that can go with anything.
When you imagine the person wearing your new pieces, what do you see? What kind of lifestyle does she lead, and what's her aesthetic?
Most of my pieces can be worn by anyone who appreciates well-made jewelry. Each piece is versatile and classic, something you can wear everyday and have a hard time taking off. And that applies to both the silver pieces and the fine jewelry. Some of the natural stones like turquoise have limitations and require a little extra care, but for the most part the jewelry is designed to be a part of you. An extension of self.
How do you want customers to feel when wearing your jewelry?
I want them to feel overjoyed that they’ve purchased a well-made piece of jewelry from someone who spends every waking minute thinking about jewelry and the people who will wear it. I care about where the jewelry ends up. I want to know that you love your jewelry. I want to know if you break it. Owning this company isn’t just about making money or being perceived in a certain way. I design jewelry because I love knowing that these pieces will adorn people’s bodies, in such an intimate way, for years to come.
Which materials are you most excited about for the rest of the summer and fall?
Turquoise is definitely a summer stone - and a favorite I’ll never stop using. I’m also really crushing on malachite and emeralds, or anything green. Tourmaline and garnets. I have a hard time picking favorites!
Why did you decide to launch a silver collection, and what can customers expect from it?
The first pieces of jewelry I ever made were of silver, and I primarily worked with silver for the first few years. Eventually, I got burned out sitting at the bench for hours at a time. Needing a fresh perspective, I slowly transitioned into fine/bridal jewelry and have been making engagement rings with primarily gold and platinum.
I’m ready to bring both aspects together so that I can cater to all of my wonderful clients and followers! I love the idea of offering a broad range of price points so that more people can afford and wear my jewelry.
Why is now a great time to buy jewelry?
Is there ever a bad time to buy jewelry?! I really feel like it’s the best gift. Something colorful or something sparkly, something that you can wear for many years to come! What’s not to love?
What’s the process for having a custom piece made?
Great question! The process can vary. Sometimes a client will have lots of reference photos and know exactly what they want. Sometimes they just know they like a certain stone and then give me creative freedom. There’s usually some back and forth, at which point I quote a price. I collect 50% up front and the rest when the ring is complete. Once the deposit is paid, I make 3D digital renderings, so the client can see the ring before it’s made and then revise it until it’s perfect. At that point I go ahead and make the ring! When it’s finished, I send photos and videos and collect the balance before shipping.
Do you offer in-person consultations as well?
Totally! Although most of my clients don’t live in Los Angeles, I do get a handful each month that are able to meet, discuss details, and pick up the ring in person.
What are your plans for the future?
So many plans! After this silver collection launches, I’ll be working on a fine jewelry collection that will have lots of higher-priced pieces and engagement rings. I also hope to design some seasonal collections and wild statement pieces.
Any parting words?
Just a sincere thank you to anybody who has purchased one of my pieces or helped me in any capacity. I’m truly grateful and wouldn’t be designing jewelry without all of the amazing people who support me.
When most people imagine an engagement ring, they usually visualize a traditional diamond solitaire, first popularized by a De Beers advertising campaign launched in the 1940s. However - whether they’re going against the norm or seeking something with more meaning and personality - today’s consumers are considering alternative gemstone engagement rings.
Have you ever thought about buying a turquoise engagement ring or even a turquoise and diamond ring? A captivating alternative to a diamond center stone, turquoise has one of the oldest and most storied pasts of all the gemstones. Did you know that archaeologists have found turquoise beads dating back to 5000 BC? In terms of history, a diamond simply can’t compete - the first example of a diamond in jewelry was in 1074 AD, when it was set in the crown of a Hungarian queen.
Over time, many cultures have prized turquoise, assigning symbolic value to it. For the Native North Americans, turquoise was considered a symbol of power, luck, and protection. In fact, many Native Americans believed that wearing turquoise enabled their minds to become one with the universe.
Though many people associate turquoise with Native American culture, it has captivated the hearts and minds of people all over the world. For example, in some Asian countries, turquoise rings were worn to protect against evil. In fact, the Asian peoples believed that when a turquoise ring is given with pure intentions, the ring will bring happiness and good fortune, and it will also emit protective energy. How special would it be to give your beloved something that will protect her always?
According to some, turquoise also stimulates the initiation of romantic love and promotes spontaneity between two romantic lovers. Often turquoise is used to encourage marital harmony and improve communication. By giving your loved one a turquoise engagement ring, you’re communicating to her that you’ll always be open to the next adventure and that you’ll be ready to talk through any challenge that may arise.
Better yet, imagine explaining to your beloved why you decided to opt for turquoise and what it means for your relationship. Your turquoise engagement ring will have much more intrinsic value and attract many more compliments from people who notice the norm-defying, cool blue stone.
Video by Harvy Moon
The talented photographer, Harvy Moon, stopped by the studio a few weeks ago and captured some amazing shots of Jordan working. We thought we'd share it with all of you to give you an peak inside. Enjoy!
Although summer is almost over, we are still fighting to keep the carefree spirit alive with some of our favorite products that have been oh so kind to us these last few months. We are suckers for quality made goods and these have taken the cake. Have a peak and give them a follow! You won't be disappointed.
It's always a day ruiner when the alarm clocks goes off, but waking up early in the summer just seems extra hard. Thankfully, coffee is always there for a pick me up. So why not keep the buzz all day long with our favorite candle from Shoppe 815? Seriously this candle is the most delicious smelling wax you will ever experience. Not only that, these candles are poured by hand so you know the quality is out of this world. But if coffee ain't you jam, their other scents are just as heavenly. Starting at $22, you really can't go wrong with any of these. Shop the entire candle selection here.
Trying to fit in all your last minute escapades? Be sure to have a bag that you know will stand the test of time. We have been lusting over this pack for quite a while but can you blame us...Black waxed canvas, hand hammered copper rivets, waterproof Cordura Lining...it's hard not to feel like you need this in your life. Not to mention everything we have ordered from Mercy Supply has had the upmost quality and wearability. This pack will not only last you years, but repairs are free...for life! Also its waterproof. Need we say more? Check it out here and fulfill all your travel accessory needs.
Custom Wall Hangings
A favorite artist of ours has always been Miss Aleksandra Zee. This inspiring chick is a self taught wood worker who knows how to take a couple pieces of wood and transform them into something beautiful. We have been dying to get a custom wall piece for the new studio and constantly find ourselves drooling over her work. Do yourself a favor and check this talented woman out. She makes many appearances at shows in San Francisco, so if you're ever in the area stop by and see the work in person! Maybe you feel like getting something special for yourself that will grace your wall forever...check it out here for more information.
Zodiac Bag Co.
Custom Made Leather Bags
Sometimes you just can't find the quality you're looking for, no matter how hard you look. Well look no further than San Francisco's own Zodiac Bag Co. There is truly a passion in every piece produced. From the contrasting leather lined inside to soft, durable leather hand selected by Zodiac's creator, Trevor, himself. He designs bags for purpose while still maintaining a fashionable edge. Also, who doesn't love a custom one of kind bag?! Check out his Instagram for more pictures of his work and contact info.
Nothing says you have it together like indoor plants. Based in Dana Point, CA, Headlands Handmade decided to throw the potting and leather world a loop by creating this amazing leather pot. Not only do we love the look of pot, this will age just as beautifully as any other leather piece you cherish. Your plants are just begging for an updated place to reside in and for $35 can you really beat it? This stylish pot will be sure to impress others for years to come. Give them a look here, along with their other amazing affordable leather goods.
Steven is one the most interesting people we have been lucky enough to meet. He has traveled to 48 states and documented the beautiful landscapes he was able to experience. Lucky for you, he's selling those experiences as prints! What we love most about these prints, besides the obvious beauty, is that there a story behind each one. These prints have the power to transplant you into the snow capped mountains or a horse farm in the middle of nowhere. The best news, all the pictures on his website are available for print. You know your walls are crying for some love! Give yourself a mental vacation and have a glance at this prints here.
Fiji Fedora- Blue
Age-old question: Can you have too many hats? The answer is obviously no thanks to Yellow 108 and their insane variety of hats, including salvaged fedoras. We are currently wanting this blue beauty for only $39! You read that right. The color catches our eye, but the 100% recycled paper straw makes us feel if we don't get it we are basically killing the environment. Check them out here!
Graphic tees hold a special place in most hearts, but Rogue Territory has taken the classic graphic and elevated it. When we say Rogue Territory thinks of everything, we mean it. Just the amount of thought that went into the a simple tee from locally knit fabric to the tubular construction that prevents body twist to the artwork provided by William Godwin, this is much more than your normal graphic tee. Take a peak at this shirt here and the rest of their website! If you happen to find yourself looking at their amazing quality workshirts and denim, good luck getting out without buying something.
If you haven't noticed by now, we are suckers for leather everything. Naturally, OliRose and her leather jewelry spoke to us the moment we saw it. These bangles, currently 2 for $40, are European Veg with designs are tooled by hand. These unisex bracelets make great gifts or something special for yourself. We find ourselves wearing these on the daily! Fun fact: If her pieces look familiar it may be because they were flaunted on the wrists of the Sons of Anarchy cast. Curious? Check out this bangle here.
We couldn't create a must have list and not include our new favorite studs! Trust us when we say these babies are just what you've been missing. If you haven't already been told, the pieces produced at Skydog Jewelry emulate quality in every sense of the word. These made by hand earrings contain two high quality blue moonstones that are set in fine sterling silver. Perfect for every day, every season and every occasion! Shop them here.
Creator of Skydog Jewelry
"You could say jewelry was in my blood."
Jordan never thought he would inherit the family business, but now that he has turned his career into jewelry he couldn't see it any other way. "My grandfather and father made jewelry. You could say jewelry was in my blood." Having a live-in mentor gave Jordan an upper hand when it came to learning the craft, but building his brand was not so seamless. Jordan: "I signed up for every event. Gave stuff away. I just wanted my name out there. I was going to do jewelry or I was going to be homeless. There was never any other option for me." The countless hours and dedication paid off and now Jordan enjoys the fruits of his labor in Skydog's new studio. He relishes, "Now long hours are something I look forward to. This place constantly inspires me." He reveals that there are quite a few new pieces in the works, so stay tuned!
What motivates and inspires Jordan most is: "Fear. The fear of failing at a piece of jewelry or with the company as a whole. This business is based on social media, something no one has encountered until now. The internet has changed everything. There's no exact blue print for how to succeed. I have a degree in marketing and great innate jewelry skills, but I'm just winging the rest."
The feeling he enjoys most when making a piece is: "The intimacy between the maker and an inanimate object. A lot of sweat and time goes into each piece, making them unique and meaningful. When you're buying a Skydog piece, you're buying directly from the maker. It hasn't been made overseas or at the lowest cost possible. The emphasis is on quality pieces that will last a lifetime."
He looks most forward to: "Watching the company grow. I'd like to slowly scale the company to reach a global audience without compromising the quality of each piece. Its difficult, but it's not impossible. And that's the aspect that I enjoy. I started doing this because it was a challenge, not because it was going to be easy."
Hometown: Laguna Hills, CA
Last Meal: Chicken Fajitas from my mom
Can't Live Without: Podcasts. When I'm pulling long hours at the bench, I need hoards of content to listen to.
First Memory: Breaking my nose when I was three years old. I fell out of a high chair when we lived in Lake Forest, CA and smashed my nose on the ground. Somehow I ended up covered in mashed potatoes in the process.
Favorite Skydog Piece: For men, the Chief Ring. It takes the longest to make, but when all the pieces come together, its worth it. For women it would have to be the Aura Ring. I like all of the opal pieces we have right now, but that one is my favorite.
Moving the business was a big decision for Jordan. He had been itching to get into a new space for a year but money wouldn't allow it. So we made do with what was possible.
To be honest, it was an awesome space considering rent was free and we basically had the ability to do whatever we wanted to the place. We covered the walls with dry wall and paint. Made our own jewelry benches and tables. Bought a giant tree stump to stamp on.
(Loyal stamping stump)
Having a home studio during the first couple years of owning a business is definitely something we (and some of our other favorite vendors & artists) recommend. You have an ability to take risks on projects that you normally would shy away from due to cost. For us, those risks paid off well enough for us to get the studio of what dreams are made of.
(insert dreams here)
Now the slow and steady moving process has begun. We could not be more excited and inspired to be in the space. Even more so, the new fresh pieces, collaborations and ideas that will come from this new fresh space. Can't wait to share all of it with you! But for now, enjoy pictures of the maker himself jamming through the wee hours of the night to get all of the orders out.