Bridging the gaps in the jewelry industry
Insights from Tina Cannon, Tytin Jewelry (Lincoln Square)
“I just want to be the thing that brings everyone together.” For years, Tina Cannon straddled two very different jewelry-making worlds: the male-dominated fine jewelry industry and the female-dominated DIY jewelry making community.
After studying at the Gemological Institute of America, Tina worked at Casting House, a large Chicago-based jewelry manufacturer and supplier. She’d become well-versed in the field of fine jewelry, but she also began making her own pieces and selling them at local art fairs like Renegade Craft Fair.
Tina starting meeting a lot of women like herself: employee by day, jewelry designer by night. But she realized that the resources and manufacturing methods, such as casting and CAD modeling, that she had mastered at Casting House were not accessible to this community. And she wanted to do something about it: “My main mission [is] helping other local jewelry designers…to be able to provide as many resources as I can, to be able to bridge that gap between what I was working in full time and the small DIY jewelers. Being able to offer them those casting and CAD resources. A lot of them don’t know about that way of production.”
It’s not that these resources are completely cut off from independent jewelers. Jeweler’s Row in Chicago is well known in the jewelry community as the place to buy diamonds and access other services such as jewelry setting and casting. But they are not exactly welcoming to small DIY jewelers or newbies: “It’s really intimidating to go into any of those places… a lot of times you need to know a person who knows that person otherwise you walk in there and they’re like, ‘why are you here?’… You’ll get potentially ripped off, or they just won’t help you.”
Tina was familiar with these hard to find resources from her own experience in the fine jewelry industry, and she created Tytin Jewelry to pass along her knowledge: “I want to be able to help other small jewelers gain access to that, or at least just help them navigate through that.”
Tytin is, above all, a community space, born out of her own experience as an independent jeweler herself: “You know sometimes you have no one to talk to for days. I was like, you know it would be so rad if I could make a studio space that was more of a community space for all of us to come together. So that was brewing in my head, I thought about it for years.”
Tytin Jewelry is a small scale studio & shop for Chicago’s jewelry community, opened by Tina less than a year ago. She offers CAD and casting services to independent jewelers, puts on workshops for those looking to learn or fine tune their skills, and offers open studio hours. Tytin is the bridge between the two worlds Tina inhabited for so long, making the resources of the fine jewelry industry accessible to small, independent jewelers.
And for those of us curious non-jewelers, stop by to check out their retail section featuring independent jewelry designers or sign up for a just-for-fun BYOB jewelry making class, you won’t be disappointed.