Artist Profile: Jessica Hicks
With the phrase that parents often say to their children, “You’re not going to sit around all summer!” a passion and career was born for jewelry artist Jessica Hicks. It was in high school when Hicks was unemployed for the summer when her mother laid down the mandate to get busy. She came home with a bag full of beads and told Hicks to do something with them. Hicks began creating morning, noon, and night. Maneuvering the beads until she had made several pieces that she could sell at local craft shows around her hometown of Worcester, perhaps not surprisingly at all, she turned a good profit for a 15-year-old, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Looking back, Hicks was always designing and crafting as a child. “From making clothes for my dolls out of my old clothing to sculpting tiny people out of Play-doh, I was always creative.”
When her mother saw the spark that had been ignited, she urged her to continue and take metals classes at the local craft museum. Hicks was usually shy and reserved, but seeing others bend and twist metal, creating beauty, brought forth something in her; she asked questions, she learned, and she thrived in the inventive environment. From there, the next stop was University of Massachusetts Dartmouth where she studied jewelry and metals in the Fine Arts department. Soon after her graduation, she was offered a job on Nantucket as a goldsmith, and the island that wraps itself around the hearts of so many did the same to Hicks—and she has been there ever since.
After working in local jewelry shops, refining her talent and skills, she began making her own pieces and selling them around Nantucket and stores across the country. After the birth of her second child, she made the decision to step back from the wholesaling venture and opened her own store in 2007. “Being a mother is my first priority and working for myself allows me the flexibility to be there for my children when they need me—or when I merely want to spend time with them.” Hicks’ one-of-a-kind pieces have caught the eye of popular author and fellow Nantucket resident, Elin Hildebrand. Hildebrand often wears Hicks’s jewelry, and her army of literary fans who love to experience all the things referenced in her beach reads, have noticed. “Elin had bought the sterling silver lace pattern band with multi color sapphires and diamonds back in 2014. She wears it on her thumb, but the ring can be worn on any finger. She featured the ring in her novel The Perfect Couple (currently being made into a Netflix series) and since then I have sold many to her loyal fans. She has been very generous to me over the years by mentioning my jewelry in her books and on social media. I’m pretty sure she has hundreds of my pieces.”
Every piece is hand crafted by Hicks—nothing mass-produced, machine-made, or even sketched ahead of time. The artist’s attention to detail and the love and patience she puts into every twist of metal and placement of stones are the things that customers love about her distinctive pieces. This past year, a cancer diagnosis, surgery and treatments have proved a challenge for Hicks, who is now cancer free. When counting her blessings, she counts her partner Skip twice. A comforter, a supporter, and one who has held her up throughout her journey, she says, “Without him I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
Living—and healing—on Nantucket, the artist says she is “inspired by everything around her, especially in nature—the ocean, shells, sea life, flowers and plants. There’s just so much life here. There’s nothing like that to help evoke creativity.”