Valerie Jo Coulson on the agony and ecstasy of gemstone inlay - The Jewellery Cut The Jewellery Cut - Jewellery, Jewellery Magazine


Valerie Jo Coulson on the agony and ecstasy of gemstone inlay

In an extract from new book BBeyond Jewellery: Spectacular and Collectible Pieces, the American artist-jeweller discusses her craft

February 17, 2021 By The Jewellery Cut

Valerie Joe Coulson is an American designer whose brand is strongly defined by her personality and philosophy. Valerie majored in Fine Arts with three semesters in jewellery making and recognised quickly that this was the medium for her expression.


“From there on, I have been a self learner,” says Valerie. She has worked as an independent studio jewellery artist since 1979.


All of her pieces, as unique as they are, have strong emotional and literary connections and are created first and foremost for herself, but “within the context of communicating a collective consciousness”.


Valerie Jo Coulson and The Gauntlet

Jewellery designer Valerie Jo Coulson wearing her The Gauntlet gold and inlay gemstone bracelet


“By the age of nine, I was well on in my immersion in the arts and, cognisant of its power and importance to humanity,” she continues. “At the time, reading Irving Stone’s [biographical novel of the life of Michelangelo] The Agony and the Ecstasy, I experienced what I might describe as an epiphany, compelling me to proclaim that I was going to live my life as an artist. My work in essence is a visual biography, steeped in existential contemplations synchronically with history and events which inform, inspire and perplex me.”


Collectors of her jewellery would appreciate the unique and stunning aesthetic of each piece all the more if they were aware of the narrative behind it. They would also relate to it subliminally.


“The defining thread of my beliefs and transcription through my work is woven with the philosophy of Sacred Geometry – the interconnectedness and inseparability of the part from the whole,” says Valerie. “Geometrics are the archetypes of a universal language that describes the seen and unseen order of nature and the cosmos; rhythms and cycles, relationship of form, movement, space and time. I believe this is an intrinsic narrative which resonates through energies and vibrations. Aesthetically and no less paramount, is beauty manifested through symmetry and order. My father in his tutelage often said to me ‘simplicity is beauty’.”

Firenze Bracelet by Valerie Jo Coulson

Firenze bracelet with gemstone inlay by Valerie Jo Coulson


Valerie’s traditional fabrication methods and the prolific and intricate use of stone inlay, as well as her choice of materials make a strong visual impact.


“I like to refer to them as ‘character stones’, because each has its own script and unique reveal,” says the jewellery designer of her inlay work. “My heart beats a little faster when I look at stones that have chatoyant effect – from the French verb chatoyer, meaning to shine like a cat’s eye – such as opal, tiger iron, tiger’s eye, rutilated quartz, moonstone. They are also the most difficult to inlay as the orientation and cutting is crucial to optimise the beauty the play of light.”


The architecture of Valerie Jo Coulson jewellery is configured via traditional, time-honoured metal-working techniques of fabrication and forming. This structure or bridgework creates the windows or compartments within which to inlay the stone. “In this methodology, I can create sculptural form and painterly canvas utilising a modicum of these precious materials,” says Valerie. “This is integral to me in a spiritual connexion to the land.”


Concatenation d’etoiles Necklace by Valerie Jo Coulson

Concatenation d’Etoiles necklace by Valerie Jo Coulson


“The entirety of the work is by my own hands, with the exception of several pieces in the last couple of years incorporating elements which are 3D printed and cast, such as the linkages for the Concatenation d’Etoiles necklace.”


Each Valerie Jo Coulson piece is striking in its own way, inspired as it is by specific events, moods or other works of art. Yet, at the same time, the artist’s signature style throughout the collection is unmistakable. Clients are primarily collectors who buy specifically the Valerie Jo Coulson creation as well as what is ultimately a statement piece of wearable art.

The Chiaroscuro Necklace by Valerie Jo Coulson

The Chiaroscuro necklace with opal inlay by Valerie Jo Coulson




This story is an edited extract from book BBeyond Jewellery: Spectacular and Collectible Pieces (B Beyond Books, £200). The Jewellery Cut readers can get 25% off the book by using the code JewelleryCut25 at the checkout








Posted by: lee wiser mcintosh

extraordinary aesthetic! thanks for bringing her so much attention!

Replied by: valerie

Thank you Lee for your wonderful commentary!!

Replied by: valerie

Thank you Lee for your wonderful commentary!!

Replied by: valerie

Thank you Lee for your wonderful commentary!!

Replied by: valerie

Thank you Lee for your wonderful commentary!!

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Posted by: Nicola

Wow I love her work! Didn’t know about her until this article, thank you!

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