The jewels of attraction
After coaching the U.S. National Snowboarding team, teaching at-risk kids for the school district, and co-founding Bootleg Courier Co., Doug E. Moore started a company handcrafting custom jewelry
“This economy is a problem,” says Doug E. Moore. “But people are still getting married … and guys are still getting into trouble and then trying to get out of the doghouse.”
Moore is the founder, proprietor and fabricator of D Street Designs, a local custom jewelry company. Moore meets with his customers, plans and creates original one-of-a-kind hand-crafted jewelry pieces—rings, necklaces, bracelets, earrings and more. He’s worked in the industry off and on since the mid-’90s but just launched D Street Designs in 2011. There is no D Street in Reno—and Moore’s small workshop isn’t located in Sparks. The D Street is a reference to his first name, and his shop is located on St. Lawrence Avenue in Midtown—in the same building as Reno Public House.
One Moore time
Moore is an interesting guy—he walked a labyrinth of different paths before becoming a full-time jeweler. He graduated from McQueen High School back in 1990, and then spent 10 years in Park City, Utah, snowboarding and coaching snowboarding—including a stint coaching for the U.S. national team. In 1996, he took a jewelry fabrication class at the Kimball Art Center in Park City.
“That was the beginning of the end,” he says. He quickly developed a passion for the art and craft of jewelry-making.
In 2000, he moved back to Northern Nevada. He considered pursuing jewelry-making full time, but decided against it.
“I fell for that old artists’ stigma, that artists can’t make a living doing art—I maintained that for years,” he says. Instead, he went to work as an educator for the Washoe County School District, working primarily with at-risk kids. Then, in 2008, he cofounded Bootleg Courier Company, a bicycle messenger service.
All the while he maintained jewelry fabrication as a hobby, and, after his partners bought him out of Bootleg in 2010, he spent a couple of years working for Robert Ince, another local jeweler. And then he launched D Street Designs in 2011. The company’s logo is a crooked star.
“I’m always a little off, whether it’s oppositional defiance disorder, I don’t know, but I’m always a little skewed,” he says.
Though centrally located in Midtown’s locally oriented retail area, Moore’s shop is definitely more of a work space than a retail front. There’s a work bench, but no display case. That’s because the emphasis is on custom jobs rather than selling pre-made stock—though Moore does limited runs of signature pieces, like a crow’s skull necklace, and he’s currently developing a Valentine’s Day line that will include a few cheeky pieces, with black diamonds and lewd designs—“for those who are jaded about love.”
As is the custom
Moore says that though he enjoys working with precious metals, like gold and silver, that’s not his favorite part of designing and fabricating jewelry.
“It’s art,” he says. “I like creating art in whatever medium. I love the start-to-finish process of completing a project.”
That creative process of seeing a project through from the shadow of an idea to a blazing, shining completion is something he says was lacking from his experiences as an educator.
“I just saw a one-year sliver,” he says. “I never saw where they came from or where they went. … I want to create all day and make people happy. At the school district, not many people are happy.”
For much of his work, Moore uses the technique of lost-wax casting, a process dating back thousands of years, wherein an artist crafts a design out of wax, makes a mold of that design, and then uses that mold to create the final piece. His designs are usually custom for the specific customers, often arising out of brainstorming sessions that happen during initial consultations.
For example, a woman wanted to make a ring to commemorate her deceased husband. She wanted the ring to include three diamonds that he had given her, including her engagement ring and two from earrings. The woman didn’t have a clear concept in mind when she first came to Moore’s shop, so Moore started asking questions about her husband. The ocean kept coming up—he was a surfer from Southern California. So Moore concocted a design that evoked the ocean, golden waves cresting over each stone.
“Now, every time she sees me she tears up,” says Moore with a mix of pride, bemusement and embarrassment.
Other original designs include wedding rings made by melting down the gold from three different generations’ jewelry—a mother, a grandmother and a great-grandmother, and an engagement ring made to resemble a flamingo—an unusual request that Moore was excited to fulfill.
For Moore, those examples of unusual, unique pieces represent the difference between buying a custom, handcrafted piece of jewelry made by a local artist rather than buying something mass produced by inexpensive overseas labor and sold in a retail chain. He says that in addition to the creative difference, there’s also a noticeable difference in quality.
“There’s more time spent on custom pieces,” he says. “Everything’s going to be a better. The prongs are all going to be just a little thicker.”
That said, he acknowledges that jewelry is basically the dictionary definition of a luxury item. He asks questions about budget early and often. He did 91 custom jobs in 2012, and the prices ranged from the rather exorbitant, $10,000, to the more affordable, $100. And though his work has attracted widespread attention—he’s sold pieces to customers in New York, Los Angeles and beyond—he estimates that 75 or 80 percent of his customers are Reno locals. He’s done very little promoting or advertising, instead relying on word-of-mouth and social media—he says he gets a lot of interest just by posting images of completed on Facebook and Instagram.
“I believe the energy we put into something—whether positive or negative—is going to manifest itself somehow—whether positively or negatively,” he says.
And though many Northern Nevadans are still famously economically depressed, as Moore says, people are still getting married, getting in trouble, and crossing various thresholds that might need to be commemorated by durable objects. That, says Moore, is part of the appeal of creating jewelry—creating the objects that will be the physical representations of somebody’s most important memories.
“It’s going to become sentimental to someone,” he says.