Merzatta began as a love story when Danielle Allatta and Chris Merz were working on their masters of fine art degrees in metalsmithing and painting, respectively. They merged their last names in 2009 when they married and formed their business, which offers intricate jewelry designs inspired by patterns found in nature.
The couple lives in a second-story cottage in Morris County with their young daughter. Take one look at their home’s décor, and it’s obvious that their family life and professional careers are interwoven. A humble wooden table does double duty as a work center and dining area. And what appears to be a pantry door off the kitchen reveals a high-tech plating and polishing room.
Their jewelry, each piece comprised of tiny metal sculptural elements, sells for $28 to $8,000 at local and national art shows and on merzatta.com. Necklaces, bracelets, earrings and rings all are modeled after natural elements such as sweet gum, pinecones, herbs, palm-tree bark, mushrooms and more. “We constantly look at the natural world to unlock hidden patterns and borrow their textures and structures,” says Chris. “This is not as simple as finding a cool thing on the beach and making a necklace out of it. Our work is derived from the actual form of a pinecone, for example.”
Through their unique casting and mold-making process, a single slice of a mushroom or any natural object becomes a building block that can be created again and again in gold, silver or bronze.
The couple and their small team of artisans work with everything from African sapphires and diamonds to a century-old herbarium of pressed flowers from Danielle’s grandmother. One client commissioned a piece that relied on morel mushrooms as its organic framework. The one-of-a-kind bracelet in sterling silver and 18-karat gold sports 15 champagne diamonds to toast the client’s 15-year marriage.
“Our passion is designing time-stopping jewelry to help our clients say ‘I love you’ in a world that is ever more hurried,” says Danielle. “We live for that wow moment—when she opens the box and is moved, excited and proud. We are honored to be part of the romance.”
Merzatta’s materials are nearly all recycled, and stones are sourced one at a time. They support Ethical Metalsmiths, an organization dedicated to responsible mining, sustainable economic development and verified, ethical sourcing of materials for jewelry.
Chris and Danielle will display their newest designs at the 25th Annual Spring Craft Show at the Morristown Armory, March 13 through 15.Click here to leave a comment