Lake Forest jeweler calls creations ‘permanent tokens of love’
Martha Richter custom designs and handcrafts jewelry in her home studio in Lake Forest. | Buzz Orr~Sun-Times Media
Martha Richter Ltd.
SPECIALTY: Gems and fine handcrafted jewelry
LOCATION: Lake Forest (call for home studio location)
CONTACT: call (773) 234-7894; visit www.martharichterltd.com
Updated: February 14, 2013 2:46PM
LAKE FOREST — From her home studio in Lake Forest, Martha Richter designs and creates lasting expressions of love.
Practicing the ancient art of wax casting, forging, fabrication and reticulation, Richter combines unique gemstones with gold and silver to create one-of-a-king pieces of handcrafted jewelry.
“Jewelry is still a big gift for Valentine’s Day,” Richter noted. “It’s precious. It’s permanent. You buy her a box of candy and it’s gone next week, or sooner. Flowers die. Cars and stereo equipment lose their value as soon as you step out of the store.”
But jewelry, a bit of gold carefully wrought to display a blazing diamond or other colorful stone, is different.
“It’s sort of a permanent token of love,” she said. “And it has the heirloom potential a lot of other gifts you can buy don’t have. Jewelry becomes a family treasure.”
The engagement ring is undoubtedly the most precious token of love Richter creates and is something she’s done for more than 35 years.
“I even had a couple come up to me at an art fair and tell me that I had created their parents’ engagement rings and they wanted me to do theirs,” Richter recalled. She said she was flabbergasted.
Working with engaged young couples is what Richter enjoys most.
“It’s a thrill and an honor to be part of their ceremony,” she said.
The first considerations for a customer ring are budget and shape.
“Sometimes they have a family stone. I’m delighted to work with what they have,” she said.
But shape of the main stone, which is typically a diamond but can be a sapphire, sets the stage for the rest of the design, which can include additional diamonds or other stones, depending on what the couple likes.
Men still come to her studio alone to pick out engagement rings, but that practice is changing.
“Now, at least 60 percent of the time, it’s both the man and woman, which is what I really like,” she said.
Once the stone and design are decided, it takes one week for Richter to carve the setting in wax.
“Whatever they see in the wax is how it’s going to look in gold,” she said.
A week later, the custom ring is ready.
For men who want to propose, but don’t have the time or nerve to fly solo on a custom design, Richter offers loaners.
“He can pick out a sample ring to give her,” she said, “until we can have the real one made.”