Have piles of jewelry sitting untouched at home? Wish you had one amazing piece you’d wear every day? Waylon Rhoads could be just what you’re looking for. Rhoads owns a local jewelry business in addition to being a young father and the vice president of Central Oregon Metal Arts Guild (COMAG). He describes himself as a classically trained goldsmith who is “expanding what is possible” in custom fine jewelry.
Rhoads has been involved in the arts his entire life, enjoying everything from drawing and painting to sculpting and wood carving. Currently in the 12th year of his career, he has extensive training including his study of fine arts at Iowa State University, followed by a goldsmith apprenticeship in Waterloo, Iowa. While initially trained in the technical side of jewelry, focusing on repairs and gem setting, he later learned custom manufacturing and design working for a high-end jeweler in Eugene, Oregon. There he learned techniques such as wax carving, casting silver and gold and laser welding, which he has now spent over 20,000 hours mastering.
After moving to Bend with his family, Rhoads worked as a retail goldsmith for several companies. In 2012, he opened his own shop in downtown Bend at 835 NW Bond St., Suite 200. Rhoads offers numerous jewelry services including repair and restoration, custom design, up-cycle services, hand engraving and gemstone and diamond identification. He also provides these services to other local jewelry store owners, which serves as the “backbone” of his own business.
Rhoads has a distinct approach, intentionally creating each piece with the specific customer in mind. “There is nothing to enjoy, nothing special about mass produced jewelry,” he commented. Because he makes each piece from start to finish, he can meet nearly any request. Rhoads encourages collaboration with his customers; involving them in the process allows him to turn their visions into reality.
“I was told I don’t have a ‘style’ and that’s ok…I want every piece to be unique,” he explained. Valuing quality over quantity, Rhoads will take as much time is needed, spending anywhere from 25-50 hours on a single piece. “It’s a part of my life that I’ve given to [an] object. That’s my way of immortalizing what I do…by making stuff that lasts longer,” he said.
While he’s the youngest fine jeweler in town, Rhoads hopes to “bring back [the] finer art” more commonly found centuries ago. He’s inspired by limestone carvings on Buddhist temples, Victorian era embellishments and gun engravings. There was “an unparalleled attention to detail [back then],” Rhoads said. He is deliberate in getting the details right, even using a microscope in his shop.
Although he’s now rooted in Bend, Rhoads has customers from all over the U.S. With a large Facebook following of over 9,000 likes, he is earning popularity and working to become a well-known name in the luxury jewelry industry. Rhoads hopes to grow his business to the point he’s manufacturing on a larger scale and sharing his passion with the next generation. So, if you find yourself tired of buying ordinary jewelry that clutters your closet, look into Waylon Rhoads and the possibility of creating a beautiful piece that will last forever.