Annette Wachter’s RudyBlu Jewelry business blossomed three years ago when the onetime photo stylist and pet boutique owner decided to pursue her growing passion for jewelry. Wachter had long been friends with a store owner local to her in Stanwood, Wash., and had also attended an annual gem show held in Seattle. She even made ammunition jewels out of expired rounds (“I’m a member of the U.S. Rifle team,” she explains). Eventually, she took metalsmithing classes at the Pratt Fine Arts Center in the city, a move that cemented her love of soldering and elevated her skills beyond beading and wire wrapping.
As a dog lover with experience in making tags and collars, naming the business after her own rescued American Staffordshire terriers Rudy and Blue was a natural choice for a moniker. Wachter both wholesales to stores and sells direct to consumers on her website. Her design signature? Bold beads, including some stainless-steel ones turned on a lathe in house as well as a distinctive box clasp. She donates a portion of sales to Special Operations Wounded Warriors and the Northwest Parkinson’s Foundation. Retail prices start at $150 in silver and $4,500 for 14k gold.
True Grit Threader earrings in silver with pearls
What would you have done if you didn’t work in the pearl industry?
Before designing jewelry for humans, I designed and manufactured dog accessories. Fancy collars, leashes, and ID tags! But I loved real gems and metals and was designing jewelry for me and eventually that transitioned to this business of RudyBlu.
Why are pearls your favorite gem?
Pearls come from a living creature! Each pearl is unique in color, shape, and luster. From nature—you can’t get more pure than that.
What is your best pearl memory?
When I was a kid, I worshipped my grandmother’s pearl jewelry. She had costume and real pearls, all of it in big clusters of big pearls. I like big jewelry.
Who is/was your pearl mentor?
I guess that would be grandma again. She did a little bit of acting and had that Hollywood glam look about her. Her black and white headshot reminds me of Hepburn, Chanel, etc.
What was your first break in the pearl business?
I only started working with pearls a couple of years ago. I was at a gem show and one pearl vendor booth caught my eye. I was at her booth for hours. I think she thought I was nuts! But my head was spinning with ideas to incorporate pearls into my line. I saw pearls and their unique beauty for the first time. Hey, better late than never!
What pearl was the hardest for you to sell?
My line of jewelry is big, bold, and adventurous. I made some pearl pendants last year with large fireball-shape pearls and embedded sterling silver and gold vermeil spikes into them, they are part of my True Grit collection. People loved them but crickets in the sales department. I stuck with it and kept showing them and then all of a sudden, the ‘power pearl’ is on trend right now thanks to Vice President Kamala Harris. My spiked pearls are now making the rounds!
Does someone famous own your pearls?
Not yet! But Angelina Jolie, are you listening?
Annette Wachter of RudyBlu Jewelry with her dogs, Rudy and Blue
Hash tag and why? #lifeisshortwearjewelry. You will always see this in my posts. Because life is short! Wear jewelry.
Dogs or cats? Dogs!
Type of pearl and why? Fireball and Edison freshwaters because of the shapes and metallic luster.
Wine or whiskey? Whiskey
Coffee or tea? Coffee. Coffee. Coffee. Did I mention coffee?
Ocean or lake? Ocean—my home and studio is on an island. We crab every day during season.
Quarantine activity? So many dog walks.
Vacation spot? The big island of Hawaii.
City or country? Country