Precious metal

Apr 25, 2007 at 12:00 am

Cicadas and grasshoppers, a miniature saw, a tiny golden tooth. These might sound like the makings of a Grimm's fairy tale, but they're actually delicately wrought necklaces dreamt up by Detroit-based jewelry designer Regina Pruss. Peruse her cutely titled Chain Chain Chain collection and you'll find an array of delightfully offbeat, whimsical adornments — a pair of brass beetles, a whale, teeny handcuffs, a hotdog — mixed with more feminine pieces bearing dangling hearts, monogrammed letters and antique-looking pendants. And, true to its namesake, chains galore.

A playful girly-meets-funky aesthetic makes Pruss' designs truly fun and wearable. Not too dressy and overdone, the necklaces, earrings and chunky rings can as easily accessorize a T-shirt and jeans as a going-out ensemble. Priced at $5-$45, Pruss' wares happen to be super-affordable too.

A graphic designer by trade, Pruss, 30, turned her attention to jewelry after visiting a craft event in New York. But she'd thought of the bauble business before. Pruss was born in Russia, and her family immigrated to the United States when she was 10. "I have some very early memories of being in Russia and sitting in the kitchen while my mom made jewelry," she recalls. "She would paint wooden beads with different designs on them, and I loved watching her. Sometimes I would help her out." Keep an eye out for upcoming Chain Chain Chain designs featuring Russian-style beads created by Pruss' mom.

Her foray into jewelry design was prompted as much by necessity as inspiration. "Part of the reason I started making stuff was because I didn't have a lot of jewelry and couldn't find things I wanted to buy — or if I did, they were way out of my price range," she explains. "When I'm making something, I always think about whether I would wear it or not." Accordingly, she often ends up donning her own creations.

Pruss sums up her creative process simply: "I'll start putting things together, and if something works, I'll make more. If it doesn't, I'll take it back and remake it."

The Motor City's passion for recycling materials finds its way into her designs on occasion. "A lot of Detroit designers and artists tend to do found-object stuff. For example, I've used materials from old houses; somebody gave me part of an old door, keys and locks."

In addition to recycled objects, Pruss collects costume jewelry, as well as materials gleaned from various supply shops, and anyplace else she happens across a compelling ingredient. "I mostly work with brass for charms and chains. I like the way that metal looks — it's not as shiny as gold." She also assembles pieces featuring glass beads and gold-plated, silver-toned or plastic parts, and she'll sometimes chemically age metals to create jewelry with a look that's charmingly antique. "In the last few months, I've been into nature — leaves, animals and bugs. I just learned a new etching technique, so I think that's going to be my next thing."

You can check out Chain Chain Chain at Flair Boutique in Royal Oak, Double Dutch Boutique in Baltimore (in case you're road-tripping it) and online at or the Curiosity Shoppe, at She'll be joining fellow designers, crafters and DIYers in the upcoming Michigan Indie Crafters of Etsy (M.I.C.E.) fair at the Main Art Theater in Royal Oak on May 19, from noon-6 p.m. and at the Book Beat Craft Fair in Oak Park on Saturday, June 2 from 11a.m.-7 p.m.

Pruss will also do custom pieces and has gotten a few interesting requests — somebody recently asked her to make a squirrel eating a pizza. "I have the squirrel, but I don't have a pizza yet," she laughs. "I'm still looking for that one."

Christina Kallery is a freelancer for Metro Times. Hands off Pruss’ hedgehog charm necklace — she’s got 15 bucks with his name on it. Send comments to [email protected]