Chris Chaney is a second generation jeweler that has been making jewelry all of his life. He likes to hand carve all of his original jewelry designs and capture all of the lifelike details possible in each design. Chris relies upon God for inspiration for all his original designs.
Chris grew up on the family farm and helped raise all kinds of livestock. (Horses, pigs, chickens, cows, and more) He participated in 4-H and raised show lambs. In FFA he raised a show steer. Summers were spent hauling hay and plowing fields for cotton farmers. Later he worked at the gin during cotton ginning season. Growing up with horses also meant participating in Playday riding events and parades. He also rode a few bulls and broncs in his High School Rodeo Club. For sports after high school Chris was a competitive slalom water-skier for many years. For the past several years he has been enjoying the sport of Hang Gliding where he has travelled to many flying sites and had many adventures. He is now learning the sport of Paragliding.
The Beginning of Creating Jewelry
Right after High School Chris began recognizing his abilities as an artist to be able to draw, paint, and sculpt three dimensional animals and lifelike art. He had been working with his dad in their family jewelry store in Big Spring Texas since the age of 6 years old and as he graduated he began learning some basic jewelry repair techniques from him. He really loved playing around with the carving wax used to create unique jewelry designs and after a local customer consigned him to create a panther necklace he realized how he could begin making all kinds of unique jewelry creations.
Creating the Cotton Boll Jewelry
In 1994 Chris was consigned by a local cotton farmers wife to come up with a cotton boll necklace that would look like a real cotton boll plant and show the beauty of cotton bolls. He actually spent three years trying to figure out how to do this when God gave him the inspiration that a white stone could be used to represent the cotton boll if he would learn how to hand carve gemstones. His customer had been patiently coming into the family jewelry store every now and then and encouraging him by telling him that if he could come up with a cotton necklace that looked really good then Cotton farmers all over the country would love to also have a piece of cotton jewelry. So in travelling to a large gem show in Tucson he found the stone he could use called snow white quartz. There he also purchased the diamond saws and other equipment he would need to hand carve and create the cotton bolls. The white quartz stones looked like real cotton and they were mounted into 14kt yellow gold settings that depict the cotton burs and leaves of a cotton plant. His customer really loved the cotton boll necklace. From here Chris made cotton tie tacks, cotton boll ear rings, and cotton bale jewelry in necklaces, earrings, tie tacks, and charms which he took to a Lubbock Texas farm show. At the farm show the cotton farmers came by and loved all of the new jewelry and were very appreciative to have cotton jewelry that they could purchase that would show the beauty of the cotton boll and their lifelong heritage in cotton farming. Today the cotton jewelry collection has almost 100 styles to choose from. Chris has regularly displayed the cotton jewelry collection at Mid South Farm and Gin show in Memphis Tn. and the Texas Cotton Ginners show in Lubbock Texas every year since 1994.
Creating the Grape Jewelry
For the Grape Jewelry designs Chris wanted to create a grape cluster that looked as realistic as possible. So he plucked all the grapes off the stems to see how God created the arrangements of the grapes. The gold work of the setting in the grape cluster jewelry uses this in a similar way so that the natural gemstones or pearls can be arranged to create a tight but natural looking cluster of grapes. He studied the shapes of the different varieties of grape leaves and spent a lot of time capturing all the fine details of the most popular ones like cabernet and pinot noir. The leaves are arranged on the grape jewelry the way they look in the vineyard among the grapes. Many vintners and wine makers have really appreciated and enjoyed the realistic and three dimensional look of the grape jewelry collection. This jewelry is one of the top selling lines in fine jewelry stores and galleries in California and Texas.
Creating the Pecan Jewelry
For the pecans Chris collected several actual pecan nuts from different pecan tree orchards which were vastly different shapes and sizes and varieties. He used a cold mold process so that he could make a mold of the actual pecan nut half. This way all the tiny details that God created in the pecan nuts was captured. This allows the 14kt gold pecan necklaces and earrings to have completely realistic detail. They looked stunningly rich and beautiful in the 14kt yellow gold. 925 Sterling Silver is also used from the same molds to make extremely pretty pecan jewelry. The pecan necklaces, earrings, charms, and tie tacks are enjoyed by pecan growers throughout the southern United States.
Creating the Wheat, Rice, Peanut, Corn, and Soybean Jewelry
For each of these collections of fine jewelry Chris had actual stalks, heads, or fruits of each of the crops so that he could look at their individual unique details and recreate them as realistically as possible to look like a real head of wheat or individual grain of rice. The corn jewelry collection is the most detailed design Chris had to ever do as he individually hand carved every cornel of several rows of corn looking under a microscope and using a sharpened needle. For the soybean jewelry he uses a special finish on the 14kt gold or sterling silver to leave the fuzzy seen on the soybeans.