Arts & Culture

Meet Nashville’s Fly-Fishing Jeweler

Timothy Stammen brings trained hands and an angler’s eye to his bespoke creations

Photo: courtesy of Bezalel

Platinum-set eternity bands in blue sapphire, yellow sapphire, and chrome tourmaline, by House of Awr.

On a good day, an angler might catch an elusive trout and the equally elusive moment when sunshine makes a favorite stream sparkle like a million spilled gems. For Nashville fine jewelry designer and craftsman Timothy Stammen, that imagery is even more apt.

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photo: courtesy of Bezalel
Timothy Stammen.

Growing up along Midcoast Maine in a family inclined to both artistic and outdoor pursuits, Stammen was such an avid fly fisher that he learned to tie his own flies. Relishing that balance of intricacy and creativity, he took a high school jewelry making class even while his prowess on the basketball court was attracting college scouts. That’s when he found out about Savannah College of Art and Design. “SCAD has one of the top jewelry programs in the country and was the only place where I also could play basketball,” he says. “It was perfect for me.”

After graduation, Stammen landed a coveted trainee position at Tiffany’s. “It was fantastic for honing real-world skills,” he says, “but I was working on some of the more repetitive designs, and I had moments at my bench when I realized I needed to fulfill my own creative urge.”

So after a stint with the renowned goldsmith Zolton David in Austin, he relocated to Nashville in 2015 and channeled that urge into not just one enterprise, but two. Bezalel, home to Stammen’s original pieces, is named for the Old Testament craftsman appointed by God to Moses to “make artistic designs for work in gold, silver, and bronze” and to “cut and set stones.”

photo: courtesy of Bezalel
Stammen may spend up to three hundred hours crafting a single piece.

“When I read that, I thought, ‘Man, that’s so specific,’” Stammen says. “It has a story that I could build my brand on, and I just liked the name.”

Continuing the theme to the bespoke pieces he creates in direct consultation with clients (in person or remotely), House of Awr draws upon the Hebrew word that Stammen translates as “containing light from above.”

“When I’m working with custom clients, sometimes they only want what they’ve seen before. That may make them happy, but not as happy as something that’s totally their own piece,” he says. So he poses a series of questions to help focus a unique design. “That’s where the magic is.”

photo: courtesy of Bezalel
A sapphire, diamond, and emerald ring designed by Bezalel.

Each Bezalel or House of Awr ring begins with a detailed sketch or, if needed, dozens of sketches. From there, Stammen may spend anywhere from ten to three hundred hours at his bench, employing precision jewelers’ tools to cast, fabricate, and solder metal, and to painstakingly polish and set gemstones. “At that point, there is still an element of artistic freedom, but every step has to be completed perfectly to make sure I don’t chase a mistake all the way to the end,” he says. “I have a lot of control, and the relationship between designing and crafting the piece is so important to getting the desired result.”

photo: courtesy of Bezalel
A 2-carat emerald-cut diamond with diamond and sapphire accents, by House of Awr.

For custom clients and his own designs, Stammen is keen on pairing traditional platinum and gold with less expected metals such as bronze and tinted aluminum. “I can make a story so much more compelling when I’m allowed to use some color on metals,” he says. “I would describe my style as a contemporary take on classic designs.”

Even with all the hours required for consultations and bench work, Stammen still ties his own flies and wades into the nearby Elk or Caney Fork rivers a couple of times a month. “I enjoy waking up before the sun, driving to the river with my coffee, and the quiet of being out in God’s creation,” he says. “Fly fishing is different every time. The trout usually eat a different fly than the last time out, or they will be holding in a different part of the river. It’s always a puzzle that I enjoy figuring out. Regardless of how passionate I am about jewelry, fly fishing is great for clearing my head.”