Heirloom history spawned love of jewelry making
“Jewelry represents something to people,” said jewelry designer Kim Bloomberg, shown here in her Glencoe home studio. “It symbolizes love and treasure and happiness and special occasions.” | JACKIE PILOSSOPH~for Sun-Times Media
Kim Bloomberg Designs
Updated: April 15, 2013 6:12AM
GLENCOE — As a little girl, Kim Bloomberg loved to play with her grandmother’s jewelry. She said it was colorful and beautiful, but even more importantly, the stories behind it were shocking, tragic and truly meaningful.
Bloomberg’s grandmother, Bronka Prywes was a Holocaust survivor, who hid her jewelry – the same jewelry she eventually gave to Bloomberg – in a chandelier in her home before being taken to Auschwitz. Several years after the war, she and her husband retrieved it.
“Jewelry represents something to people,” said Bloomberg, who is now a Glencoe mom, an art teacher at an elementary school and a jewelry designer. “It symbolizes love and treasure and happiness and special occasions.”
Bloomberg was an art history major in college with a concentration in glass blowing. She worked in advertising for awhile, but decided to obtain a master’s degree in education to become a teacher after the Columbine High School tragedy in 1999.
She began making jewelry while in graduate school, and when she became employed as a fourth-grade teacher, she started wearing the pieces she created.
“Other teachers started buying the jewelry off my neck,” said Bloomberg, who now teaches jewelry making and other art classes at South Park Elementary in Deerfield. “I was so happy that people wanted to wear it, and it gave me the confidence to go into business.”
Under the name Kim Bloomberg Designs, Bloomberg creates necklaces, earrings and bracelets using 14 karat gold filled metal, sterling silver and semi precious stones.
Bloomberg travels to New York City four to five times a year to hand pick all the stones she uses, which include labradorite, amethyst, aqua chalcedony, and green onyx.
“I’m constantly inspired by my environment, so I’ll be walking in the snow and I’ll see a falling branch or a reflection on a building, and an idea will come to mind and I’ll think of a necklace,” she said.
Bloomberg sells her jewelry by appointment out of her home, and also participates as a vendor in several charity events throughout the year. Her designs are also carried at Stella, a women’s boutique in Evanston.
“I’m always looking for things that are unusual,” said Rachel Hershinow, who owns Stella. “The look of Kim’s jewelry filled a niche for me that I didn’t have in the store. It’s simple and delicate, but interesting.”
“She has a clear vision and design concept of what she stands for, and that’s really important for the success of a designer,” said Sheri Styles, who used to be a buyer of specialty jewelry for Marshall Fields, and who has bought several items from Bloomberg, “If someone is wearing it, I can say, ‘That looks like a Kim Bloomberg piece.’”
A piece of Bloomberg’s jewelry starts at $50 and goes up to $400. She hopes to start selling her jewelry to other boutiques on the North Shore and in the city.
She is currently collaborating with well-known New York photographer Brian Friedman on a series of pieces that are inspired by Friedman’s photos.
“Brian will take photos and I’ll make the jewelry based on those photos,” she said. “I’ve been doing that for awhile, myself. I’ll take a photo of something and then create a piece of jewelry from it.”
“Each piece of Kim’s jewelry is like a beautiful piece of art,” said Styles.