Native Chicoan Kristina Brown makes custom jewelry, but it's not your everyday silver or gold. Rather, her medium of choice is bullet casings, and her business name is, appropriately, Bullets N' Bling. She uses the casings and Swarovski crystals to make everything from rings, bracelets, necklaces and earrings to cuff links, tie clips and tiaras. Brown sells her wares from her website (www.bulletsnbling.com), as well as at a few local shops, including Made in Chico, Long Creek Winery and Ranch in Oroville, and the Tackle Box Bar, Grill & Shop.
What got you into jewelry?
Ever since I was little, I made jewelry just for fun. I would make hundreds of friendship bracelets. I had so many that I didn't know what to do with them.
Where do you get your materials?
I get my casings from the shooting ranges, and I do a lot of casing trades for jewelry. I have paid for some casings, but most of the time I can get my casings donated. People just throw them away, and the shotgun casings no one ever reuses, so I get to be picky and just pick out the ones I like. I only use the front part; the rest of it goes to recycling. I use all Swarovski crystals, and most everything is nickel-free.
What’s your favorite thing to work on?
I get lots of custom orders. People will send me the casings from their grandpa's 21-gun [funeral] salute. It's fun because people will get necklaces made, or those little charms for the window or the rearview mirror, so they can see it every day. I feel really honored to be able to do that. I think my prettiest products are my bracelets, but I love to make them all. My most popular casing is the .38 special federal.
How long does it take to make a piece of jewelry? Do your prices reflect that?
I tell people everything's custom-made, so give it a week or so for me to make it. My highest piece is $40, and that's my bracelets, and then my lowest price is probably my rings, which are $10. I wish I could sell the bracelets for cheaper, but they take so long. People tell me I should raise my prices all the time, and I say, “No. What would I want to pay?” I like cheap things, and I look for the best deal, so I try to keep my prices fairly reasonable.