Sheldon and Vickie Chaplin make unique jewelry for technology-oriented people.
One night, as Sheldon was taking apart a computer for recycling, he realized that the precious metals and unique patterns on old microchips and circuit boards could live a new life as designer jewelry.
This upcycling gave them a new hobby to pass time in the evenings, and it turned out they weren’t the only ones who appreciated the beauty of microchips, because they found a market and turned their hobby into a business. Opalimage was born.
Before Opalimage, Sheldon worked as a manager at a composites and fiberglass company, while Vickie worked as a technologist in a genetics laboratory. Crafting jewelry, even from technology, was a nice change of pace for both of them.
The couple works as a team. Sheldon disassembles and repurposes the microchips. Using pliers and strands of wire, Vickie bends the wire to just the right curve to create chain maille and other wireframes and bases.
Their advice to aspiring jewelry makers? “Do your R&D. In our case,” Sheldon says, “finding the correct abrasives and adhesives is crucial, and document EVERYTHING so you can see what works with which materials. Our quality control includes throwing test pieces on the floor. It won’t do for pieces to come apart after they are sold.”
The Chaplins goal is that in five years they will still be able to haul their products around to street fairs, and creating pieces their customers continue to enjoy.
You can find Opalimage one-of-a-kind jewelry at local street fairs and festivals including the Made in Utah Festival coming up in August.
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