Marilyn Brogan Jewelry: Handmade in Apalachicola

An artist in Apalachicola

For years, artist Marilyn Brogan created artwork in isolation. From drawings to sculpture, she and her muses communed until it was time to showcase the work and then other people became involved.

But now that she’s a jewelry artist working out of her shop in downtown Apalachicola, the native Virginian says she has discovered that collaboration with her patrons unlocks another level of satisfaction.

“It gives me so much pleasure to make something for someone that makes them so happy and that’s going to last beyond their lifetime,” she said. “It feels really good to work with people in a collaborative way that we’re both satisfied at the end.”

A recent client hired Brogan to create her engagement ring, using sapphires and a diamond from heirloom pieces handed down by the woman’s mother. She wanted something original and contemporary, so she and Brogan worked on several sketches until “the one” was found that melded sentiment and modernity.

“It certainly wasn’t impossible, but it was a challenge,” Brogan said. “And when she came to pick it up, she was just thrilled.” The client subsequently ordered her new husband’s wedding band, which incorporated one of the heirloom sapphires.

For Brogan, when a piece of jewelry is finished, its story is just beginning.

Although the initial consultation is collaborative, when it comes down to taking the sketches and manifesting new pieces, she’s hard at work, hand fabricating in her studio. She starts by making a wax carving of the pieces, which is then sent to a trusted refinery that specializes in gold and silver for centrifugal casting.

Sometimes a cast is used only once, or if it’s a design she wants to create multiples of, she’ll have a mold made. When it’s time to work with the materials — either in sheet or wire form — Brogan can usually be found shaping the pieces with a pair of pliers or snips, or a favorite pair of “beautiful flush cutters” she absolutely loves. Then she’ll shape the newly fabricated gold or silver so that the settings hold the jewels.

As for the precious stones, Brogan is very careful where she sources them. She knows the abuses that can occur to the planet and to mine workers in the diamond trade, and she has worked diligently to develop sources with better practices.

“There are certain mines in Canada and Australia where, because they’re in those particular countries, they have strong labor laws and environmental regulations,” she said. “And that stuff makes me feel really, really good, that I’m doing something positive. It’s a little extra work and a little extra expense, but it’s so worth it.”

Stop by Brogan’s shop in downtown Apalachicola and you’ll find display cases full of her exclusive line of engagement rings and wedding bands, in addition to earrings and pendants, such as the wave charms she created to raise money for Hurricane Michael relief. And, of course, she’s eager to collaborate on “one-of-a-kind statement pieces” as well.

Marilyn Brogan’s jewelry can be seen online at marilynbrogan.com. For business hours or to speak with Brogan, call 850-783-0767.