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Seattle Jeweler Finds Inspiration for Designs in Pacific Northwest Scenery

The first wedding band Wendy Woldenberg made was her own.





Wendy Woldenberg opened her West Seattle retail store and studio WEND Jewelry on Earth Day 2021 after teaching jewelry design to high school students for 22 years. Her jewelry collections are inspired by nature, while her focus is on sustainable materials and business practices. A member of Ethical Metalsmiths, Woldenberg melts and reuses customers’ gold for their new pieces, uses lab-grown diamonds from U.S. labs, post-consumer recycled diamonds and Montana sapphires. She also offers in-store classes on a wide range of topics from embroidery and building a succulent terrarium to yoga. Plans for an anniversary party included a salt tasting.

Q&A with Wendy Woldenberg

What do you like about Seattle?

I like the water and the mountains and the green and the fresh air and it’s nice jumping off place for travel. With the mountains you can see them most places that you are. You’re looking at them or you can go to them. I come from Chicago, which was really flat so I enjoy the heights.

What is rewarding about your retail operation?

I get a lot of tears of joy when someone can actually wear Grandma’s ring as a different piece. It’s very satisfying for me.

I enjoy meeting people who live in the neighborhood of West Seattle. West Seattle is cut off because our bridge went down in 2020 and it’s a bridge that supported 125,000 cars a day. So nearly everyone who has come to the store have been neighbors and they have been very supportive.

Are you open for walk-in business?

I’m open three days a week and I get maybe 75 percent of my business from people who have somehow walked in or done a class and maybe 25 percent from friends and friends of friends. I’ve been posting a lot of heirloom renovations or makeovers and getting people who want to melt down jewelry into something new. One Saturday I was working at the bench and a woman came who had driven three hours from Oregon because she saw my heirloom makeovers, and by the end of the appointment we had designed three pieces of jewelry from what she had.

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When There’s No Succession Plan, Call Wilkerson

Bob Wesley, owner of Robert C. Wesley Jewelers in Scottsdale, Ariz., was a third-generation jeweler. When it was time to enjoy life on the other side of the counter, he weighed his options. His lease was nearing renewal time and with no succession plan, he decided it was time to call Wilkerson. There was plenty of inventory to sell and at first, says Wesley, he thought he might try to manage a sale himself. But he’s glad he didn’t. “There’s no way I could have done this as well as Wilkerson,” he says. Wilkerson took responsibility for the entire event, with every detail — from advertising to accounting — done, dusted and managed by the Wilkerson team. “It’s the complete package,” he says of the Wilkerson method of helping jewelers to easily go on to the next phase of their lives. “There’s no way any retailer can duplicate what they’ve done.”

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