The Jewel

Jewelry Arts Gallery

Our Newest Artist, Wolfgang Vaatz

Jan Daggett

Living in a place that appreciates nature as much as Oregonians do, we fell in love with Wolfgang Vaatz's unique and realistic tree patterns.  His use of unrefined California placer nuggets and intense attention to detail in creating each birch or aspen piece spoke to our love of nature as well as our aesthetic for design.  His abstract jewelry pieces are just as compelling, and we are thrilled to be introducing this artist to our customers and integrating his work into our collection.


From Wolfgang's "About" page from

My career as an artist started in 1986. Born in Namibia and having lived for a year in Chicago, I moved with my parents to Germany where I received from middle school on my main education. Attending shortly Munich’s Kunstakademie, I switched dissatisfied the art institute with the pristine Namib desert and my own voice as an artist thrived, due to the complete immersion into an unspoiled natural environment. Successful painting exhibitions in Namibia and Germany followed. The emphasis on texture and the need to explore space further guided me to sculpt with clay. After my return to the US in 1990, I created large water sculptures that were widely collected. Relocating to northern Arizona in 2001, I also revisited painting landscapes of the Southwest. A move to southern Arizona in 2009 reawakened a fascination for gems and minerals from my childhood. Transforming quickly to work with natural stones and metal, I used my skills as a painter and sculptor, while getting comfortable with the much smaller scale of works. Since late 2012, I started working seriously as a studio jeweler, creating exclusively wearable art.

Since starting with jewelry, my work evolved dramatically. It seems, I came full circle, for presently the major theme under-laying my jewelry creations is still and again the natural landscape, as obvious as in the miniature carved scenes of mountains, hill country, southwestern desert, and of course the ocean, and at times manifest in minute studies of patterns in nature, created by the action of wind, water and sun, that translate in certain hammered or carved patterns or composition choices in abstract pieces. What drives me is my passion for discovery, for recognizing the potential of my environment and the desire to share my joy through my art work. It’s the way how I observe nature and how I let the creative process guide me and the tools I use. Being basically self-taught in the field of wearable art, I work through and learn from my mistakes – while applying modified techniques from my sculpting experience. However, in the end, it has allowed me to develop a different approach and to come up with unusual work that is collected by individuals nationwide. In 2016, my work has been selected as finalist in the Niche Award and won 2nd place in the prestigious Saul Bell Award Competition. In 2017, an Aspen inspired cuff was selected as finalist in the Saul Bell Award Competition.

The natural gold I use is unrefined placer gold. Placer gold is gold which is eroded from its host rock and moved by water to different deposit locations. The smoothened edges of the nuggets and gold flakes are the result of the tumbling action in the rivers. California placer gold is obtained in an environmentally friendly way by individuals, using hand tools which have a minimal impact on the environment. I like to obtain the material directly from miners or trusted gold dealers, specializing in CA gold. The natural gold I select is 22 karat or more.

All metal used is sustainable material made with reclaimed/recycled or certifiably ethically mined metal.