My name is Betty Jäger, my company is 3 Jäg Design, and I am a goldsmith. I hand fabricate unique, one of a kind pieces of jewelry using precious metals and natural gemstones, diamonds and color treated diamonds.
Where did you grow up? Why do you choose to call Minnesota home?
I reign from the Pacific Northwest. I grew up in Tacoma, Washington. I moved to MN 13 years ago to go to school for jewelry and gemology. While in school I landed an apprenticeship with a Master Goldsmith, which is like finding a unicorn in your backyard. It’s few and far between, in the states, that someone still practices apprenticeships. Minnesota has a strong love for the arts, and an even stronger love for artists that make them. It’s easy being an artist here. The community here is nurturing, supportive and always asking for more. All in all, I never thought I’d still call this tundra my home. But I’m pretty sure I’m a Minnesotan now.
How did you first become interested in creating jewelry?
I’m pretty sure I had an affinity for jewelry in the womb. I have been obsessed with jewels for longer than I can remember. I figured if I love something so much, I might as well learn how to make it myself. I’ve been creating my own jewelry since I was 5 years old.
I first discovered metalsmithing about 15 years ago. I fell in love with the fire, the noise, the tools, and basically everything about it. I took my first metal fabricating course 13 years ago, and fell completely, and utterly, in love. Fabrication is a process where you start with flat sheet, stock, or round wire and heat it up to manipulate it to your liking. Through this process you’re constantly hardening each piece- making it extremely strong. Jewelry that has been fabricated actually has twice the structural soundness to that of a cast piece. Casting is the other way to create precious metal jewelry- the way most people do it. It’s faster, cheaper, and easier to create jewelry through casting.
There’s nothing cheap, quick, or easy about me or my jewelry. Fabricating jewelry is not a short or quick process, and i really dig that. I think people are generally in too much of a hurry. I like the long road home. I enjoy throwing my soul into each piece. Making things with your hands is becoming a lost tradition, and I’d love to carry that torch. The way I create jewelry is the way people have been doing it for thousands of years. The tools are old, and rudimentary, the tradition almost as old as blood, sweat and tears. There’s no fancy machines creating things for me, I am the machine.
Where does the name “3 Jäg” come from?
3 Jäg comes from a lot of things. The 3 is a 3, which is a mystical number that’s been following me around my whole life, it’s also how I sign my name. The Jäg comes from tradition. It’s part of my last name. It’s also how my father labeled his tools. I grew up tooling around in his workshop, on the job site, always admiring tools, and handwork. My father would always label his tools, so the other boys wouldn’t take them. He’d label them with ‘Jäg’, which is the beginning of our last name, Jäger. We’re German, the umlauts(little dots over the a) are a tradition that was taken away from our ancestors by the American government. They thought we were too German for the States, deporting my great great grandfather because of a couple dots over an A. Well, needless to stay, not much can stop the stubbornness of an old German man. So, as tradition would have it, I’m bringing umlauts back!
When are you the most inspired? What inspires you?
I’m the most inspired when I’m awake. So many things inspire me, beauty, ugliness, joy, pain, heartbreak, sunsets, you name it. I’m inspired by life, the kindness of people, dreams, rocks, weird textures, old dead things, macabre stuff, bones, skin, leather, men, women, checks and balances. Strength and weakness inspire me, tools and missed opportunities inspire me.
Defeat challenges me, and sometimes success challenges and inspires me to keep going.
Tell us a little about your design process.
There’s no process like a lack of structure for me. I just make things, and if they work out they do. If not, I learn something. Sometimes I sketch, but mostly I just take to the bench and start hammering the crap out of things, and they just happen. In a world full of rules, structures, and deadlines, I really enjoy my freedom. The freedom to be the boss, and just do what comes naturally. I do well with directions, but I hate rules.
Name 3 things that you absolutely must have in your workplace.
Rock and Roll
Outside of your business as Showroom, do you have any other hobbies?
I like fast cars. I’ve got an old Chevy that I drive in the summer. It keeps me young
Whats your favorite way to relax and “get away”?
I’m still trying to figure that out.
To see more 3 Jäg Jewelry- visit the Facebook page!