Angels are wherever you experience them. Jewelry designer Susan Helmich of Monument discovered the first angel in her “Angel’s with Attitude” line of pins and pendants as the result of customer need. People Helmich knows or has met inspired the other 14 animated angels.
Helmich is a California product, but she relocated to Colorado in 1980 where she had family ties. While in California, Helmich learned goldsmithing and stone cutting. Not long after moving to Colorado, she was exposed to the work of master stonecutter Bernd Munsteiner. Soon thereafter, she started incorporating his unique stones in her avant-garde designs.
Within a short time, she was producing striking designs, including one named the 1991 “American Designer of the Year” by the Manufacturing Jewelers and Silversmiths of America. Three times, she has been cited in the Japan International Pearl Design Competition, and in 1996, she was winner of the Women’s Jewelry Association “Design Excellence” award.
Her career continued to progress, and grew to include several beautiful and edgy lines, inspired by artists Van Gogh, Monet and Dali. However, the attitudinal angels are the designs that helped put Helmich on the mass-market map.
“The past 30 years of my life have been spent searching for ways to communicate with people through the language of art,” Helmich said at her Monument headquarters. “It was through the loss of two important people in my life that I began making a collection about angels.
“Angels with Attitudes was born out of an awareness that we are surrounded by angels in the relationships we form in our friendships, family and business associates,” Helmich said. “Without knowing, they help us to see things more clearly by teaching us through example… whether positive or negative, these experiences offer insight to ourselves.”
One of the people Helmich credits with the angel’s creation is her mother, who died of cancer.
“My mom died two years ago at Pikes Peak Hospice, and I watched how incredibly they brought meaning to the dying process,” Helmich said. That angel was called Caregiver, because the nurses and volunteers of Hospice inspired it. “I know there are earth angels… I’ve seen them,” the artist said.
Others are named Harmony, Gregarious, Jubilant, Perseverance, Patience, Courage, Stubborn, Daredevil, Certainty, Loyalty, Cherished, Grace, Invincible and Guardian.
“These angels are a reflection of all the feelings we all have,” Helmich said. “Once I came up with the first angel, every night another angel popped into my head.”
What is important about the line, Helmich said, is that “for the wearer, they mean something, but they are more abstract than what else is out there, which makes them more personal statements.”
Angels sell themselves, Helmich said. “The marketing on this project has come very easily,” Helmich said. “Unlike the marketing for the rest of my business where it’s always been a challenge.”
So many angels are flying off the shelves that Helmich’s staff doesn’t cast them at her production facility. They are manufactured by an East Coast company. They are available in a variety of metals, ranging from sterling silver to 18 carat gold, and range in price from about $90 for sterling, to more than $2,000 for 18k gold embellished with diamonds. On special request, the angels are available in platinum.