Crafty Creator

Brian Bishop creates culturally specific jewelry in St. Croix

Brian Bishop
Brian Bishop weaves precious metals and St. Croix culture into his jewelry designs.Courtesy Brian Bishop

Locals on st. croix know Brian Bishop as much for his stunning jewelry ­creations as for his voice. Not long after opening his business, Crucian Gold, in ­Christiansted in 1972, the native son ran a series of popular humorous radio ads in the local dialect. “Those ads haven’t run in 25 years, but I still get shout-outs on the street,” he says.

A former industrial diver, Bishop first took up jewelry making as a hobby, toting around his wares to job sites in a hand-hewn teak box. From the start, he found inspiration for his pieces in his nautical background, passion for sailing and the natural beauty on St. Croix. Two of his earliest and most popular styles — the Crucian Knot and Turkshead — emulate sailors’ knots. “Chaney” pieces incorporate colorful historic shards of pottery recovered on St. Croix. When Hurricane Maria devastated the island in 2017, he donated proceeds from his VI Strong pieces to hurricane relief.

St. Croix jewelry
“Chaney” pieces incorporate colorful historic shards of pottery recovered on St. Croix.Courtesy Brian Bishop

While Bishop has passed the craft and daily operations of Crucian Gold to the next generation, you’re still likely to find him most days brainstorming at his home studio. “I still really enjoy designing new things,” Bishop says.

What do you enjoy about jewelry making? The process is like a zen. I don't think about it; my hands just lead me. I have the ability to see a finished product before I even start it.

Describe your home studio. It's a gorgeous stone building I built myself. It's surrounded by fruit trees: soursop, ackee, tamarin, banana and more. From my front porch I have harbor views of the north shore.

How else do you spend your time? I have a 17 ½-foot Dick Newick-designed rowboat, the only one built with a swing centerboard. He was a huge inspiration for me. As a child, I watched him building these innovative designs here in St. Croix.