Nestled inside the OneWay Gallery off Ocean Road in Narragansett, jewelry maker Amber Bettez has set up a boutique called Silver Tides Jewelry where she and other local artists display and sell their work. Bettez makes anything from necklaces to earrings, bracelets to rings – and she does it all by hand. She primarily works with sterling silver wire, wrapping it around various gemstones, sea glass, fossils and shells to create elegant designs. “I let the stone dictate the piece. I don’t go in with a preconceived notion, I just kind of go with the flow,” Bettez says of her creative process. She learned the craft from a friend and began making her own jewelry and selling it at local art shows and coffee shops.
Bettez is strongly influenced by her surroundings. “I’ve lived in Narragansett for 15 years, so I’m inspired by the ocean,” she says. It shows as clearly in her commitment to using local resources (all of the sterling silver she uses comes directly from a manufacturer in Providence) as it does in her oceanic creations. “I support the community that supports me,” she explains.
A trained reiki practitioner, she feels a special connection to her rocks and gems. “They were a part of the Earth at one point, so they have a natural energy to them,” says Bettez. “I’m putting positive energy into the jewelry as I’m making it.” Her materials range from coral and turquoise to fossilized shark’s teeth and lapis lazuli, all of which she handpicks at an annual gem and mineral show in Arizona. Each piece she sells includes an informational card about the stone, its history and its healing properties.
Another way in which Bettez stays connected to the community is through Gallery Night. On the last Saturday of every month, OneWay and Silver Tides host a public in-store event to showcase new artwork. “There’s about 40 artists, so we rotate the work,” she said, “We have food from local vendors, drinks and music.” She’s also thinking of starting up a ladies’ night later this year with tarot card readings and mini facials. “I’m still doing a lot of jewelry shows, but I want to bring people in during the colder months.”
Silver Tides also sells hand-blown glasswork, pottery and apparel. Bettez is in the process of setting up an online shop either through Etsy (an online marketplace for artists and artisans) or through Silver Tides’s own site, and she hopes to have it up and running by November. Until then Bettez says, “I just want to make sure I can keep people interested.” It seems like that won’t be a problem.