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Customer Corner – Allie Perry, Goldsmith, Jeweler

Customer Corner – Allie Perry, Goldsmith, Jeweler

The world of creating tends to attract people who push past obstacles, never settle for the status quo and find inspiration in the unexpected. This month’s creator, jeweler Allie Perry, is a perfect example of all three. After she discovered her love for metalworking in a high school jewelry class, Allie decided it was “jewelry or bust” and set off on a 20+ year journey that’s led her to a satisfying life as a professional jewelry maker. Meet Allie Perry.

What do you love best about creating?

I have a very noisy mind—it’s always going 1,000 directions at once—and I’ve always loved to play in the dirt and do things that were hands on. When I’m smithing, it’s very physical and super dirty. It’s noisy and kind of chaotic. But as I use my hands and problem solve whatever I’m working on, my mind settles. I fall into a flow and feel very content.

One thing I love about working with metal is that you can’t destroy it.

Failing and making mistakes is the best way to learn—you can stumble your way to success. There’s a freedom in working in a medium where I can melt it down and start over.

Tell us a little about your history in creating

I’ve been making things my whole life. I’d make jewelry out of paperclips. I’d roll up paper to make 3D objects. I’d make things for my dollhouse out of cardboard. My dad is a really handy guy, and I was the kid holding the flashlight and learning from him. I was always attracted to the idea of using my hands to fix something or create something that didn’t exist.

When I was in high school, I always took a heavy course load, AP everything, honors everything. Because of that, my senior year I only needed English to graduate. So, I filled up my schedule with nonsense, easy, fun classes. One of my friends said, “Take the jewelry class. You’ll love it.” And she was right.

I headed off to the local college because I couldn’t afford the dream college I’d gotten into, and I stumbled upon a studio art major with a specialization in jewelry and silversmithing. I thought I was going to major in writing, but I abandoned that as soon as I realized I could major in jewelry making.

When senior year arrived, I didn’t know how to move from the academic part to professional life. There weren’t any internships or professional outreach, so I convinced the school to let me create an internship program and give me six credits for it. Then, I called every jewelry manufacturer in the state of Connecticut, convinced one to give me a paid internship and kept working there after I graduated. I followed that up by convincing a repair place to take me on and teach me how to do jewelry repair and then I went to a much larger repair shop where we each did hundreds of repairs a day. That was a terrible, soul-sucking job, but I got my hands on thousands of pieces of jewelry and learned a tremendous amount about jewelry—and corporate America.

I followed that with time at a jewelry store where I convinced them I’d be great at setting diamonds (Editor’s note: Do you see a theme?) and they taught me how to do it. Then, when the pandemic hit, I decided I wanted more control over my security, my health and my future. I took the dormant business I’d opened as a side hustle nearly 20 years earlier and went full time working for myself.

My whole life, I’d seen how my older sister and her friends, and my parents and their friends had done the practical thing. No one was doing what they wanted to do. I decided I didn’t want to settle. I was going to be a jeweler and there was no back-up plan.


Please share a favorite project—or something youre working on now

When I decided to go full-time in 2020, I’d spent over a decade doing custom work for other people. I was making my customers’ visions, which is rewarding in its own way—there’s nothing like watching a person’s face light up when they open the box, and your piece is exactly what they envisioned. But I felt like I’d lost my artistic voice a bit.

I went outside and there was a dead cicada in my driveway. Growing up I’d always collected insect husks and I remember thinking, “That’s so sad, what a waste.” I harvested the wings—I still have them in a little jar!—and I made full-scale replicas of them in silver. I decided to make the entire cicada. I used a stone for the body. I carved the head. I was creating for myself, and it was really fun.

I wrote a story about the process and shared it on social media. I thought people might find it interesting. Not only did they find it interesting; they bought what I made. I made some more, and they bought those too.

When you make jewelry, your job is to bring people joy—everything I touch is going to make someone happy. And this cicada was me making people happy with my art, which was something I hadn’t done in a long time. It was a turning point in my career to make art with my craft instead of just using my technical ability to create things I didn’t have any sentiment behind.

When did you start using CraftOptics glasses?

My work is very detail oriented. Historically, I wore contacts and could easily do my work without needing magnification.

Then a few years ago in my early 40s, I started to realize something was wrong with my vision. It turned out I had a cataract. My first eye doctor said I’d be fine and we’d do surgery—in 20 years! When my insurance rolled over, I found a new eye doctor who gasped audibly when she saw the cataract in my eye. She recommended doing the surgery as soon as possible.

I came out of that with one eye that was farsighted and one that was nearsighted. Apparently, this is common, and your brain takes the information from both eyes and puts them together to feed you a clearer picture. My vision was ok for day-to-day life, but in the jewelry world, you might be trying to set a one-millimeter stone and “ok” doesn’t work.

As I was struggling with this and trying to figure out a prescription that would work for me, another jeweler I knew from Instagram started raving about her CraftOptics glasses. I knew her well enough to know she wasn’t trying to sell me something: She truly thought they were great.

I hemmed and hawed when I saw the price tag, but finally I said to myself, “This is your career. You have to do whatever you can to see clearly.”

Unfortunately, as soon as I ordered my glasses, my doctor changed my prescription again to try and fix an issue I was having with double vision in my newly cataract-free eye. Fortunately, Jeff and Lynn (at CraftOptics) were just amazing and worked with me until I had a pair of glasses that worked.

Tell us why you love CraftOptics.

I can see again! I didn’t fully appreciate what I’d been missing until I had my CraftOptics.

It was like the clouds parted and everything was clear again. I basically lost a year of my professional life trying to figure out my vision and CraftOptics gave it back to me. I wish I had gotten them as soon as I learned about them.

They did take a little bit of getting used to—both because I hadn’t worn glasses for 25 years and because as my vision deteriorated, I’d gotten used to bringing my work closer to my eyes. It’s taken a bit of adjustment to figure out a good working distance.

I’ll probably go back to some of the stuff I’d loved doing in the past like cross stitch and paper quilling, other things where close vision is important.

And what about the DreamBeam light?

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t going to get it because of the price tag. I figured, “Whatever.” I have so many lights over my bench and lighting’s never been a problem.

But CraftOptics encouraged me to give them a try and I was astounded! I was really shocked at the difference.

My advice is to get the light: Trust me, you need it. I know it’s expensive but save up. Do whatever you need to make it happen because the light is next level. It’s so bright, it’s adjustable and it’s hyper focused on where you’re working. You can look around and the light goes with you.

Plus, it has great battery life. I just did a project where I was working 10-12 hour days for a week on it and I only had to charge the DreamBeam twice.

Any last words of advice?

Invest in yourself. And I don’t just mean investing in the right equipment, like CraftOptics and the DreamBeam light.

I mean, invest in you. Give yourself permission to try things and to fail at things. Invest in yourself in a way that’s going to make you better. Don’t do it for anybody else. Give yourself the opportunity to enrich yourself in the way that you want to do it. Not in the ways other people think you should.

Where can people see more of your work?

The place where I’m most active is on Instagram—you can find me @allieperrydesigns. I’m also on TikTok and Facebook and I have a website at