Colin Chinchar and Marian Maloney, the founders and creative forces behind Chinchar Maloney, share their experience in creating custom, handcrafted jewelry that is as unique as their backgrounds. Learn about how they got into the jewelry industry and what inspires their unique jewelry pieces.
1. Tell us about yourselves.
We are Colin Chinchar and Marian Maloney, and we started Chinchar Maloney around 2010, shortly after we met in New York City. We are both artists by nature and our business was born from a desire to build a creative life together.
2. When did you discover your love of jewelry?
I can't remember not loving jewelry. My mother and grandmother learned early that they had to replace their valuable jewels in their jewelry boxes with costume jewelry to protect precious items from getting raided by my five-year-old self looking for treasure. Colin has always been a rockhound and collector of beautiful mineral specimens. Jewelry design and manufacture was a natural combination of our interests.
3. How did you break into the industry?
Very slowly and from the outside. Our company started as a playful exploration between the two of us. Getting into the industry came later as a byproduct of becoming a business. We still consider ourselves outsiders in many ways.
3. How would you describe your collections?
Most of our pieces are inspired by the center gemstone or diamond. That is often the starting point and always the foundation of our designs.
4. Where do you find your design inspiration?
Fundamentally, our inspiration comes from a desire to explore beauty with a new perspective. We have always embraced the natural flaws in the gems and diamonds that we use because we see character in these "flaws"; we see unique beauty in their so-called imperfections.
5. What is your design philosophy?
Our design philosophy is centered on comfort and wearability. The lifestyles of today require jewelry that you can live with in your daily life.
6. How do you want people to feel when they wear your pieces?
We often get feedback that our jewels remind our customers of the beautiful places that they explored with their beloved while falling in love. We have also heard that they see themselves and their relationship in the jewel they choose: a jewel that is one-of-a-kind and perfectly-imperfect.
7. What is the best advice that mentors in the industry have given to you?
To find and follow our own unique voice and perspective.
7. What are your favorite materials to work with?
We love all colors of gold and we do our own alloying in our studio. We love rustic diamonds for their unique character. We love Montana sapphires for their short and ethical supply chain as well as their beauty. And we hand-cut and sculpt each Montana sapphire that we use.
8. Do you have a favorite piece – and what do you like to wear?
That's a bit like choosing a favorite child! We have both said hello and good-bye to quite a few favorites! A recent favorite of mine, which I was wearing every day until it sold recently, was this ring in 14k yellow gold with about 5 carats of rubies in it:
9. What trends are you seeing in the handcrafted jewelry industry?
We see customers and jewelry collectors wanting unique pieces of wearable art. Rather than shopping for giant bling, we see trends that are more personal; people shopping for a reflection of their love. Also, more and more, jewelry lovers are shopping for themselves and, again, want a piece that will reflect their unique style.