I love fairy tales," says Kimberly Baker. "My fiancé has a 6-year-old, so we read a lot [of them]. I love Edward Gorey and spooky, dark stuff like that." Baker's eponymous Fremont shop, which resembles an enchanted forest, is the perfect setting for best sellers like the chunky Wolfette ring (an 18-karat gold vermeil wolf's head embossed with a flower pattern), crest pendants emblazoned with unicorns, and coin replicas with proverbs on the flip side.
After taking jewelry classes in high school and at North Seattle Community College, Baker began selling her jewelry to Les Amis, a store just around the corner from where her shop is now. "I always wanted to do something with art," she says, "but I never thought I could make money doing it." Five years later, Baker has two employees, sells her jewelry to nearly 50 boutiques around the country, and sees it worn on the flesh of celebs like Aimee Mann and Shakira.
At a time when contemporary independent designers seem to be everywhere, Baker's work is set apart by its uniqueness and quality. It's feminine but not fragile. Chain links tripled up as cascading earrings become rough and elegant at once. Trendy dangling elements like tusks and horns are updated by being twisted or painted black. Even a pair of laser-cut hoop earrings with a fine spiderweb of silver threads inside feels sturdy.
Each order is handmade by Baker, a production assistant, and subcontractors in a studio around the corner from her boutique. Here, sterling silver, gold vermeil, and real gemstones are used, with prices ranging from around $65 for earrings to $300 for a complicated necklace.
Says Baker: "I like jewelry that when you put it on, it feels like something special." &mdash Rachel Shimp — Kimberly Baker Jewelry, 617 N. 36th St., 545-1145, www.kimberlybaker.com.