Finding Wabi-Sabi in Marshmallows and Metal

READY TO TRAVEL AGAIN
Suzanne “Q” Evon
Portrait by Rachel Pressley

Decades before Weaverville’s Suzanne Q Evon (or just “Q,” as many know her) established herself as an internationally recognized jewelry artist and designer, she made necklaces from Peeps — the cloyingly sweet, chick-shaped marshmallow candy. 

“As a kid, I would string anything together and wear it. Until the ants ate it,” she jokes. “I have come a long way.”

Q is now the founder and namesake of Q Evon Design, a fine-jewelry purveyor whose work is featured in galleries across the country and the Caribbean, as well as at sea on luxury cruise ships. Fittingly, Q’s pieces are inspired by her own travels — stones embody the dramatic landscape of the Chilean fjords and the vibrant facades of Cinque Terre on Italy’s Ligurian coast. 

Mixed-metal five-tab necklace

“All I’ve wanted to do, ever since I was little, was travel. I can remember watching television shows and seeing Brazil or Switzerland and thinking, ‘I’m going there,’” Q says. 

Born to Polish and Canadian parents, Q spent her childhood in Michigan, daydreaming and building condos from neighbors’ refrigerator boxes. Besides exploring the world, she also aspired to create. “I’ve always been interested in transformation,” she says. 

MAJESTIC, NOT MATCHY-MATCHY
Q Evon’s high-end designs incorporate gold, silver, and other fine metals; vintage glass; and one-of-a-kind gems (lapis lazuli, opal, spinels, and many more) for a look that’s at once adventurous and elegant. Asymmetrical elements are a signature look.

In second grade, she sold her first piece of art, and, by high school, she had devised a side hustle selling earrings and necklaces made from broken costume jewelry. Years later, while studying business at East Carolina University, Q turned to more profitable gigs — bartending, work-study jobs, and anything else that paid the bills — but she never abandoned her childhood fantasies. And so, when a modeling scout approached her on campus in her senior year, she perked up. 

“I knew there was a whole world that I wanted to see, and that if I could make some money modeling, I could do just that,” says Q. 

For 15 years, the tall blonde posed for Johnny Walker Scotch, Dove Soap, Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, and other big-name brands. In her off time, when she wasn’t bouncing from continent to continent, Q took metal-jewelry fabrication classes at Parsons School of Design in New York City. She officially launched Q Evon Design in 1996 and moved to Asheville a year later. 

“In the beginning, rather than charging appropriately for my work, I can remember thinking, ‘Hey, I made this. I’ll pay you if you’ll wear it,’” Q laughs. 

Her pieces are now very much sought after, especially those in the “One of a Kind” collection. Anchored in the States because of COVID-19, Q decided to cull her sketches from years of traveling and produce a signature piece each day of 2020. One pair of 14k gold earrings, for instance, incorporates opal — some stones a deep, cerulean blue and others more subtle in color — to evoke the shades of summer in Norway. Like most of Q’s designs, the earrings are asymmetrical. 

“I joke that my work started asymmetrical years ago because that was my skill level,” Q says in her charming, wily way. “But now, it’s a choice. I find beauty in imperfection. The Japanese call that wabi-sabi.”

Suzanne Q Evon, Q Evon Design, 839 Reems Creek Road, Weaverville. The artist is also represented by The Folk Art Center (382 Blue Ridge Pkwy., Asheville); Miya Gallery (20 North Main St., Weaverville); The Jeweler’s Workbench (80 North Main St., Waynesville); and Woolworth Walk (25 Haywood St., Asheville). For more information, call 828-645-3842 or visit qevon.com.  

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