Image of artists wearing hand made wood earrings, necklace and ring in front of living moss wall.

Summer Merritt

Summer brings a diverse background in art and a passion for craftsmanship to her jewelry creations. With a BFA in Design and an MFA in Sculpture from Cal State Long Beach, her artistic journey has been shaped by a strong foundation in visual arts. While pursuing her graduate studies, she also delved into the practical world of opticianry, a decision driven by the need for consistent work and an opportunity to further develop technical skills. During her 16-year career as an optician, she found ways to infuse her artistic sensibilities into the field, working exclusively with independent eyewear brands that valued unique aesthetics and uncompromising quality. This experience not only honed her eye for detail but also instilled a deep appreciation for working with intricate designs on a small scale. In 2020, while collaborating with her husband on custom furniture and design goods, she stumbled upon a newfound passion for jewelry making and 2 years later is working as a full-time jeweler. Each piece created evolves into a wearable sculpture, meticulously crafted to transform precious wood into heirloom-quality jewelry.

Summer and her husband, Mason Cooley, reside in Weaverville, NC, where they live and operate their home studio. Accompanied by their shop dog, Moser, they create complimentary modern designs. To explore their wider collection of furniture and sculptures please visit their shared portfolio site at

The Process

The Process

Summer creates modern jewelry pieces from exotic hardwoods, blurring the line between art and fashion. Unlike traditional jewelers, she uses wood as the foundation for the work. Each piece is meticulously shaped and carefully crafted by hand to achieve a smooth, high-polished finish. She intuitively responds to the wood grain and considers every angle to add depth and dimension to the work. The natural oils from the wearer's skin condition the wood over time, creating a symbiotic relationship between the jewelry and the wearer. She also handcrafts custom clasps and metal details using precious metals to complement the quality of the wood. The end product challenges the perception of wood jewelry as a DIY accessory and showcase its potential as a high-end, artisanal form of wearable art.