Mia van Beek is a Charlottesville-based master goldsmith and designer at Formia Designs. Following her clean, bold, and contemporary aesthetic, she designs jewelry from precious metals and genuine gemstones and pearls and redesigns clients’ heirloom jewelry according to their visions.
Particularly giftable at holiday time, custom jewelry from children’s art is a major part of Mia’s work.
Clients email the artist their children’s artwork, and she transforms it into any metal design they want: pendant, charm bracelet, earrings, cufflinks, lapel pins, Christmas ornaments, or anything else they can imagine.
These pieces are so popular, they were featured on the Today Show!
We asked Mia more about her work and artistic experience. Read on to learn about her Swedish heritage, global customers, and the art of mothering.
Where do you find inspiration?
I studied jewelry in Sweden, where I was born and raised, obtaining a Goldsmith Master’s Degree and also a degree in design. I would say I am most influenced and inspired by my Swedish heritage. It embraces a certain sparseness in design which I tend toward in my own work.
I follow trends inasmuch as I listen to my clients’ vision for a piece, who might be inspired by a certain trend. I also follow color trends in beads and gemstones. I am primarily motivated by what my clients want: What will make them happy? I want them to end up with something they’ll love.
My very latest item is actually a client design: a charm bracelet with pearls and gemstones in a color scheme of her choice. I thought it was such a good idea—her child’s artwork in sterling silver set against her favorite colors.
What item are you proudest of and why?
I’m proudest of my kid-designed jewelry. It’s exciting to have something unique, that no one else is creating anywhere, and to be sought out by customers worldwide for that item. I recently got an order for a titanium key chain from a lady in Mallorca, a little island off the coast of Spain. We corresponded via e-mail, I made her the piece, and we sent it to her in time for her mom’s birthday. It’s fun to be making a special birthday present for someone so far away!
What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received?
I get a version of the same compliment on nearly a daily basis—that I’ve come up with a “brilliant” idea in transforming children’s art into jewelry. Clients also frequently tell me that the piece I made exceeds their expectations. I feel blessed to have stumbled upon something no one else seems to be doing, and to be able to bring so many people joy with the jewelry that results from this process.
How long have you been creating fine jewelry? Do you create any other forms of art?
I have been creating fine jewelry since 1991, when I finished jewelry school. The kid-designed jewelry came into being about 4 years ago, when I wanted to make something special for my daughter’s preschool teacher. I took my daughter’s drawing and converted it into jewelry for her teacher, and the rest is history! The only other art I pursue, really, is the art of mothering. I try to make the most of all the time I have with my two daughters.
What’s your typical day like?
After I drop off my girls at the bus, I go straight to the studio, where I’ll enjoy a quiet cup of coffee and look over e-mails. By about 9am I’m at the work bench, rockin’ the iPhone. The day simply flies by—time flies when you’re having fun! Between the coffee, the tunes, the companionship of my fellow jewelers and the inspiration all around me, the hours pass so quickly!
What’s one thing most people don’t know about you?
Most people are surprised to find out I’ve only been in this country for seven years. I guess I carry myself as if I’ve been here longer.
What is your favorite holiday?
My favorite holiday is a Swedish one called Valborg. It's April 30th, the night before my birthday, and they light bonfires all over the countryside, burning old branches and preparing for the renewal of spring.
Say hej to Mia (that’s Swedish for hi) at our Cville HolidayCraftacular.