Until eight years ago, Ross Coppelman’s jewelry designs had the aura of ancient Egyptian artifacts: stylized lines and the richness of precious stones and high-carat gold. It was most definitely not traditional Cape Cod jewelry. In fact, Coppelman says, “I took this sort of wrong-headed pride that I wasn’t inspired by Cape Cod. I was inspired more by very old archeological design and imagery.”
Coppelman’s almost subconscious draw toward Egyptian jewelry worked well for the goldsmith, who has been creating jewelry for more than 40 years. Then, several years ago, he and his family moved to a spot near the Great Marsh in Dennis, and something strange happened: The Cape’s natural lines and contours began appearing in his rings, bracelets, and necklaces. Coppelman had changed deep inside, and his art jewelry changed with it.
“I was working on a curve (in a piece of jewelry) and suddenly it turned into a wave. I went, ‘What’s going on?’ I had never done anything even mildly representational before,” he says. “My work took a complete change.” Suddenly, inspiration was not in the decorative pieces worn by ancient Egyptian pharaohs, but in the quiet beauty of the marsh. As Coppelman says, “There was no traffic, no noise; there was water, birds, and sunset. Suddenly, nature took over in terms of what’s inspiring.”
After his metamorphosis, Coppelman designed a series of polished silver and gold jewelry in a wave and sunset motif, and then, he says, “I got restless again.” He upped the energy of his thematic development and did a series based on the Dennis tidal flats, with a “sandy” effect imparted by high-carat gold dust infused into the metal.
Not that anything ever gets too literal in the Coppelman studio. His new “Landscape Series” features a ring and cuff bracelet with a sterling silver background that has been oxidized to turn grey-black to contrast with the gold, its pattern calling on the lines in the marsh sand. Each piece features one beautiful opal, offset with a small diamond underneath.
Today, Coppelman ponders the new direction that his art jewelry has taken. “What I didn’t know is that there’s more than one way to be inspired by the Cape,” he says. “I had to get out of the way and let it evolve.” But there may be yet another fork in Coppelman’s road. “I tend to get into a style for two or three years, then I get bored and restless,” he reflects. “I’m feeling it now—big time. I don’t know what will come out of it.”