Wanderlust makes one-of-a-kind jewelry in CH studio
Wanderlust Jewelers specializes in one-of-a-kind, handmade pieces of jewelry, including engagement rings, wedding rings, earrings, necklaces and bracelets. Wanderlust’s owners, Wes and Heather Airgood, have lived in Cleveland Heights since 2010. They recently moved their studio from Little Italy to 12429 Cedar Road, above Starbucks in the Cedar Fairmount district.
On Nov. 19, 5–8 p.m., Wanderlust will hold an open-house event. “We want people to see what we do and how we do it,” said Wes Airgood.
Wes, 33, was born in northern Indiana. His family moved to Toledo when he was in junior high school. In 2005, he earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and then went on to the University of Georgia, where he earned a master’s degree in fine arts, with a concentration in metalwork and jewelry design.
His first job after graduate school was at Heather Moore Jewelry, which was then based in Cleveland Heights. That’s where Wes met his future wife, Heather Terrore, who had graduated from the Cleveland Institute of Art, where she earned her BFA degree. “We worked well together, and we had a lot of fun,” he said.
In 2011, the Airgoods decided to start their own business, and opened a studio in Little Italy, above Presti’s Bakery.
“We focus on old-fashioned, custom jewelry,” said Wes. “Everything is one-of-a-kind, and everything is made from recycled gold and diamonds.” Many of their clients bring old jewelry from home, and ask to have it redesigned. “If someone wants to get married, they often want to use a diamond from one of their grandparents’ pieces of jewelry,” Wes said. “Jewelry is made to be worn, but it often winds up sitting in a box. So we take it and make it into something new.”
Jaeda Kinkoph, who handles sales and marketing for Wanderlust, said they have three different types of clients: “Some people come in and know exactly what they want. Then, some people come in with existing diamonds and other pieces of jewelry, and they want it made into something new. The third group has no idea what they want.”
“When someone comes in, we talk for about an hour, and I take notes,” said Wes. “Then I draw a couple of sketches based on our conversation, and once they decide on a design, it usually take about four to six weeks to get the piece done. And everything is done by hand. I take a bar of gold and loose diamonds, then I carve the pieces and I use a torch to solder the pieces together.”
Kinkoph is currently in discussions with retail outlets, to explore opportunities for Wanderlust to start selling some jewelry in stores across the country.
Wes said he and Heather love Cleveland Heights. They live on Lee Road near Monmouth Road, across from Church of the Savior. “It’s such a wonderful community,” he said. “I love all of the shops and other things along Lee Road, and I also love the recreation center.” In September, his parents moved from Connecticut to Cleveland Heights.
The Airgood’s first child, Olivia Hazard Airgood, is now two years old. The couple named her after Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, who won the Battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812. “When we had Olivia, it was the bicentennial year of the Battle of Lake Erie,” Wes said. “So we decided to name her after the commodore.” The couple is expecting a second child in January.
Wes is considering writing a book about many of the stories he has heard related to the jewelry he has worked on. “I love the storytelling that goes along with the jewelry,” he said. “Jewelry is so personal, and many of the people just have great stories about the items they bring in to have us work on.”
James Henke, a Cleveland Heights resident, was a writer and editor at Rolling Stone magazine for 15 years. He is also the author of several books, including biographies of Jim Morrison, John Lennon and Bob Marley.