Michele C. Dodge: Geologist Turned Jeweler

I wasn’t born a jeweler.

I grew up in a small town at the outskirts of the Washington D.C. metro area, the oldest of seven children. A very inquisitive child, I took apart any electronics that had broken in the house, and read every book I could get my hands on at the local library. As the eldest child in the family, I arranged activities for the younger ones. I assigned them “art projects,” requiring gallons of paint, reams of paper, and untold quantities of glue and glitter over the years. My fondest memories are of lying out on the front lawn with my siblings on warm summer nights, answering their questions about the universe (as a voracious book-reader, I was of course an expert.)

Up until about the age of 10, I wanted to be an artist when I grew up. This changed when a science and technology high school opened in a neighboring county. Going there and studying to become a scientist became my new dream.

"My head (and my heart) always seemed divided between science and art."

I attended the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, concentrating on math and science, and putting aside art for the time being. In college, I studied physics and geology. Watercolor painting was relegated to hobby status. In graduate school, I got a job as a geologist at the US Geological Survey, analyzing volcanic ash samples. I devoted my weekends to landscape photography in beautiful places.

 

Jeweler Michele Dodge working at bench

"Although I deeply loved geology, that little art spark still fluttered in my heart."

Golden Gate Bridge San Francisco

When my chronic migraines became too much to continue working a 9-to-5 job, I decided that I needed to work for myself. It was important to be able to set my own hours, and take sick time when I needed it. Slowly, I started buying jewelry components. I sold my new jewelry creations online and at small local shows. Soon I realized that I wanted to do more in jewelry, so I enrolled at the Revere Academy of Jewelry Arts in San Francisco, where I earned my Jewelry Technician diploma. I also enrolled in classes at the Gemological Institute of America, where I earned my Accredited Jewelry Professional certificate.

Recently, I have found my passion in cloisonné enamel, gemstones, and fabrication. My art half is satiated by the hours spent designing new pieces and playing with color. My science half is satisfied because I use my knowledge of gemstones and metal alloys in my work, and I base designs on mathematical principles. As a jeweler, I love to create for my fellow nerds and geeks.

I work out of my home studio in the beautiful San Francisco Bay Area.

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