Joanna Gollberg in her studio

Joanna Gollberg is a marvelous studio jeweler in Asheville, North Carolina. Joanna has taught workshops and classes for schools and metalsmithing groups around the world, and her work has been exhibited in leading galleries around the United States. She has an A.A.S. in jewelry design from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. Joanna just published her fourth book, The Ultimate Jeweler’s Guide, a comprehensive reference book for jewelers.

How would you describe your jewelry design aesthetic or sensibility, Joanna? And how else does that sensibility show up in your life?

In my jewelry career, I am all over the place. In my home, my decorations vary from handmade, hand-stitched cloth from India to plastic toys from Target.

I love to make all kinds of jewelry, and I do not want to limit myself by only making one kind. This is not good for my business—in that my work may not always look the same from year to year—but it is good for my soul and level of happiness.


How did you get your start, and why did jewelry become your artistic medium of choice?

My grandmother was an enamellist. She gave me her enameling equipment and tools when I was 19, and so I took an enameled jewelry class at Penland School of Crafts.

There are so many things I love about jewelry: Jewelry is small. You can wear it. Other people get to see it. Jewelry can be fun.

Making jewelry also gives me a lifetime of learning. There are constant challenges and rewards.

What advice do you have for artists interested in becoming studio jewelers?

Work hard and persevere.

Reds to Yellow Brooch by Joanna Gollberg


What are some significant trends you’re noticing in jewelry design?

I’m definitely seeing lots of circles and ovals! I saw two people walk by me within five minutes today both wearing polished 22-inch necklaces made of interlocking circles and ovals.

Here’s the rapid-fire part. What’s your favorite …

… dessert? Cookie—chocolate chip

season? Fall & spring

board game? Scrabble

piece of clothing? Shoes—wedge heeled

magazine? Vanity Fair

museum? Museum of Arts and Design in NYC

TV show? Weeds

book? Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

jewelry-related website? www.charonkransenarts.com

vacation spot? India!

What do you get out of the book-writing process, Joanna, and how does making books compare with teaching classes?

When I write a book, I feel like I am writing a term paper, and I try really hard to get an A! I also am so aware that a book is a team process, and I do not want to let down my other team members—my editor, photographer, creative director, etc.

I like having information to share. It makes me feel good to have the answers. I love making jewelry so much, and I love being able to share that information with other people, in the hope that they will also find a way to feel fulfilled in their creative lives. I also love writing books for Lark, because the people I get to work with are so fabulous.

One thing I don’t get from writing books, but that I do get from teaching, is having the chance to work one on one with people, see what they need, and help provide them with options for the best way to accomplish specific tasks. Offering in-person feedback also helps me do the best I can in teaching a specific individual. Everyone learns differently, and books can help so much, but there’s nothing like a small classroom to really help an individual learn.

What’s surprised you most about your career, Joanna?

That I cannot imagine not being able to do it. That I love it as deeply as I do.


24 Responses

    Greer Peters says:

    Joanna, thanks for taking the time to write your books, I have 2 and they have really been helpful to a jewelry novis!!
    greer peters

    ColleenBaran says:

    Wonderful interview. Love Joanna Gollberg's work- jewelry & books.

    jackie Koudry says:

    Terrific interview. Just love her stuff.

    Julie Rorden says:

    To take the time to compile years of experience and research, then reduce it into a format we can all benefit from is truly a gift. Thanks.

    Nice interview – am unfamiliar with Joanna's work, loved seeing the Reds to Yellow Brooch. It's fun to have all the links in the story, too.

    Thank you for posting the interview! Very nicely done and I like the new site a lot.

    sy says:

    great interview. i love Joanna's designs.

    aflyonthewall says:

    This is one of my favorite artist/teachers her books are beautiful and her instruction easy to follow…keep bringing us more Joanna!

    Maggie Bergman says:

    I love Joanna's books, it's great to read a little more about her too!

    Tonya McDonel says:

    Circles definitely seem to be in fashion. I am seeing a lot of patterns with circles. Beadwork magazine this month has some good bead weaving patterns with circles and hexagons.

    I have the Ultimate Jeweler's Guide and I highly recommend it to everyone!!! I was lucky enough to win a bid at SNAG and get an early copy of it and signed by the Joanna too!!! Its beautifully put together and easy to understand.


    Jan says:

    Beautiful work! I love reading about crafters making good!

    Christa Murphy says:

    I love your work and would love to have information about the classes you give and where.

    Ellen says:

    I think that I visited your store five years ago when I was passing through Asheville. I think your work is quite elegant and beautiful. I hope to be able to get a copy of the Ultimate Jeweler's Guide soon, and thank you for all your hard work in creating that book. Keep up the wonderful work, Joanna!

    Janice says:

    Thanks for this info — need to get a copy of her book.

    benjamin says:

    You are one of my first inspirational artists!
    Benjamin Pastrana
    Puerto Rico

    Water-star says:

    I have many, many metalsmith books and Joanna’s books are the ones I keep by my bench. I learn a lot from her books and when I saw this latest one, I bought it without spending time to look inside because I knew it will be great. Well, I can not say enough how much I like this book – worth every single penny and I will buy more if she writes again:D
    I’m your big fan Joanna!
    It is so nice to get to read the interview too, I have to see her work in person someday.

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