Jewelry Designer and Goldsmith Robin Hepburn’s Creations Are on Display at Orion Jewelry Studio
CREATIVE CONCEPTS: “The biggest part of the business is my creative design. All the pieces are one-of-a-kind, and I especially enjoy taking the client’s vision and bringing it to life with my creations.” Jewelry designer and goldsmith Robin Hepburn is shown at work, hammering a bracelet in the workshop of her Orion Jewelry Studio in Pennington.
By Jean Stratton
People like jewelry because it often represents a feeling or memory, something to commemorate. Perhaps a milestone event, a wedding, anniversary, or birthday.”
It can also be an heirloom passed down in the family that has special meaning. Or it can be a brand-new piece that is especially beautiful.”
Robin Hepburn, jewelry designer and goldsmith, and owner of Orion Jewelry Studio in Pennington, certainly knows about her subject. She is an expert in the field, and is about to celebrate her 30th year of business in Pennington. Now located in the Shoppes At Pennington, 21 Route 31 North, her studio is both her showcase and her workplace.
The charming studio offers a welcoming display of imaginative, innovative, and beautiful jewelry in an environment which immediately engages customers and invites them to take time to enjoy the appealing atmosphere.
A large back room contains her workshop, where she creates her own one-of-a-kind pieces, including bracelets, necklaces, rings, and earrings. It is also the location for the repair and cleaning services she offers. Nearly all work is done on the premises.
Art and Design
Hepburn has always been involved in art and design. Born and raised in Pennington, she was introduced to the visual world of art through her father George C. Koeppel III’s art gallery, The Queenstown Gallery. He also had a silversmith shop in Hopewell, and this added an additional dimension to the creative world that surrounded her.
After attending art school, with a metal smith major, she worked in a jewelry store in Philadelphia to get a sense of the jewelry business
“Also,” as she explains, “to continue my education, I took classes in Boston, in Arizona, and other locations to learn new techniques, such as metal forming, advanced stone setting, and metal roller printing. I also took classes at the Gemology Institute of America and earned certification as a goldsmith. In addition, I have taken other classes with masters in the field.”
Her career took a new turn when she moved to St. Thomas, the U.S. Virgin Islands, where she opened her own jewelry store, and lived for 10 years.
She began her design work there, and today, in many ways, her jewelry design still evokes the tropical motif and serenity of the islands. The sculptural forms and rare gemstones blend to create hallmark pieces that are both elegant and exotic.
“My ideas come from nature,” she observes. “It must be fresh. I have a vision, and the piece can also be inspired by the shape of the stone. My first design was a gold cuff/leaf bracelet, which I wear every day. I designed it when my son was 6 months old, and it is really a part of me.”
The elegant hammered gold bracelet has become a signature piece, and a favorite of many customers. It is also available in sterling silver, and can be personalized with diamonds and other gemstones.
Orion’s clients, who are from Princeton and the area, include many of long-standing. “I also have clients from Brooklyn, New York City, Washington, D.C., and Northern New Jersey,” says Hepburn. “A lot of time, even if they have moved, people still want the one-of-a-kind pieces I offer. Some also find me online or have heard of my reputation, and, in addition, I now have the children of my original clients coming in for engagement rings. Now we have a second generation!”
Engagement and anniversary rings are a popular part of her business, she notes, adding. “I can also redesign an engagement ring for a special anniversary.”
Another important part of her work is the updating or redesign of older pieces. “These may have come from someone in the family, and perhaps can look somewhat dated, and the client may want a more modern, up-to-date look,” says Hepburn. “One customer came in with a very large diamond ring, and wanted it to be redesigned into something she could wear every day. Clients bring in stones of any quantity, and we can create a design for a ring, necklace, pendant, earrings, or bracelet.”
When Hepburn begins the design process, she asks for the client’s ideas and vision, then takes notes and makes a sketch — often of four different views of the piece.
“I start with the client’s concept, and then bring their dream to reality. This is my great pleasure.”
In addition to her custom work for specific clients, many of Hepburn’s pieces are on display in the studio. Among those especially popular are the double loop gold necklace and two-disk solid gold pendant necklaces, suitable for engraving. These feature a hammered texture unique to Orion.
“Stacking rings are favorites now, too,” points out Hepburn. “They can include diamonds, rubies, and other gemstones, and people often wear two, three, four, even five together. They often start with one, and then add more as they are able.
“Also popular are memory lockets. They are gold with a glass center and magnet opening. You can add a gemstone or pearl in the center for a special look and meaning.
“We also offer a nice alternative bracelet at a lower cost. It is bi-metal, 18k gold fused with sterling silver, and it is available in different sizes.”
Test of Time
Hepburn incorporates precious and semi-precious stones into her designs, and also likes to specialize in more unusual stones, such as the rare tanzanite from Tanzania.
On the other hand, pearls have continued to be a favorite for many clients over the years. They truly stand the test of time, she says.
Orion also offers a special diamond trade-up program. “You can buy a pair of diamond earrings, and later if you want something larger, you can trade in the smaller pair for new ones. The cost of the original pair will be deducted from the new larger earrings.”
Hepburn also buys gold and platinum, which can then be refined (melted) to be used in other designs. The purchase price can be put toward a new piece, she explains.
In addition to the jewelry, Orion offers selected handmade gift items, often from local artisans. Wonderfully fragrant handmade soaps, beautiful silk scarves, candles made from tree branch castings, and cork handbags from Portugal are among them, and all will be welcome gifts.
Being part of the Pennington community is very important to Hepburn. As she says, “I love this community, and I love working with the people here. I hire local people, and I donate to local charities, organizations, and fundraisers. I want to give back to the community.”
In honor of her efforts and contributions, she received the Community Leadership Award from the Hopewell Valley YMCA at a special event on April 27.
Hepburn is proud of Orion’s success, and also of her staff, including store manager Moira Sanford, who has been with Orion for six years.
“I love what I do. I am so lucky to have been able to turn my passion and creativity into my livelihood. I never know what kind of project will come along. There is always something new, and I love that. I look forward to coming to work every day.
“I also look forward to continuing to create new designs. My art and craftsmanship are always evolving. I am so happy that my clients appreciate my work.”
Orion Jewelry Studio is open Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday 10 to 4, and by appointment. (609) 737-7235. Website: www.orionjewelrystudio.com.