Jeweler Kari Rauch designs with nature

“Organic shapes and textures reflect our beautiful landscape. Her jewelry is beautiful.

Cactus skeletons, rattlesnake skin and lizard scales may seem unusual in the context of high-end jewelry, but for Sedona jeweler Kari Rauch of KD Steele Designs, they are the foundation of her designs.

Since moving to Sedona in 2005, Rauch has found her niche with unique beaded pendants, rings, bracelets and treasures. His process maintains and refreshes the spirit of the region, reflecting the contemporary aesthetic of the Southwest.

“The patterns I encounter on my daily hikes speak to the natural beauty of this desert paradise,” Rauch said. “At first I made molds of interesting tree bark or patterns on rocks, then I started incorporating feathers, leaves and whatever other inspiration I found in class. of road.”

“As the palette of a prickly pear falls, it deteriorates into this kind of beautifully intricate envelope that can be cleaned and prepared for casting.”

Thanks to his son, Steele, and his red-bearded dragon, Petrie, Rauch was also able to use naturally shed lizard skin in his jewelry. “I call them ‘Serpent Scales,'” she said, showing them off in pendants and cuffs.

From the Bisbee Turquoise Mine to the Carico Lake Mine, Nevada, Rauch is very particular about her choice and source of gemstones. Many of his pieces include turquoise from the Number Eight (#8) mine in Nevada. “This gemstone is extremely rare; turquoise has not been mined from this site since the mine closed in 1976,” she explained. In addition to southwest turquoise, Rauch frequently uses Australian Boulder opal, lapis lazuli, peridot and blue topaz.

Rauch also specializes in seed bead bracelets made on a loom using fire-polished faceted Swarovski crystal beads, glass beads and brass. “The clasps are sterling silver with a matching southwestern turquoise bezel, secured with a sterling silver locking pin,” she said.

Beading, for Rauch, is a meditative task, like a puzzle. “It’s relaxing and honestly a lot of fun. I love the patterns and some of my favorite designs are inspired by Native American rugs. I love the challenge of recreating their bold geometric shapes through a different medium.

Married for nearly 40 years, Rauch’s interest in jewelry began with her husband’s career as an antique dealer. “He took me to museums and auctions, and I always found myself admiring the estate’s jewelry. No room was alike.

Enrolling in his first jewelry class in 1981 at Brookdale Community College in Lincroft, New Jersey, Rauch learned lost wax casting and wax carving.

It took almost two decades before Rauch’s passion for design and his budding talent for jewelry making came to fruition. “After raising my two sons, I went back to school and got a bachelor’s degree in psychology,” she said.

Although Rauch was always enthusiastic about the subject in an intellectual sense, she never pursued professional psychology. “I couldn’t see myself sitting around listening to people’s problems all day. However, going back to school and being exposed to new concepts, new ways of thinking, inspired me to create.

In 2001, Rauch began making his seed bead bracelets. Over the past 20 years, she has expanded her craft, turning raw metals and gemstones into art. “Susan Herman, co-owner of Kick N’ Cast in Sedona, liked my jewelry and suggested I contact Caravana Jewelry to see if they would represent my designs,” Rauch said.

“Kari’s bracelets are really beautiful. Some of her jewelry is large, which is trendy right now. She did it on her own and she’s very talented,” Herman said.

“Kari’s attention to detail and her love for raw materials are found in every unique piece she creates,” said Caravana co-owner Melissa Iaquilino. “Organic shapes and textures reflect our beautiful landscape. Her jewelry is beautiful.

The KD Steel Designs name incorporates the names of his sons Kane and Dane Steele.

“If I’m not hiking, I’m in my home studio creating jewelry,” Rauch said. “I love what I do and it’s a blessed life.” NBF

By V. Ronnie Tierney, FBN

KD Steele Designs can be found at or at Caravana Jewelry at Tlaquepaque Arts and Shopping Village in Sedona. Caravana Jewelry specializes in showcasing local Arizona artists. Rauch can be reached directly at 213-300-1875.