Sterling and Steel is a Family Affair

Salida-based Sterling and Steel was forged out of a couple’s joint love of metalsmithing


© Courtesy 2017 H. Mark Weidman

There’s a whiff of the saccharine—Disney stuff—in the setup: A welder’s son falls in love with a jeweler’s daughter, marries her, lives happily ever after. For Salida-based metalsmiths Harry and Nicole Hansen, though, the story is far from fiction. The husband-wife team, heirs to respective family trades of steelwork and silverwork, have forged a marriage, a creative partnership and a shared career around the simple act of heating and hammering metal. Black- and silversmithing are decidedly different beasts, but the Hansens have found common ground in bringing their skills together. “The only difference between Nicole and me,” Harry says, “is that her hammers are measured in ounces and mine are measured in pounds.” Together, they own and operate Sterling and Steel, producing jewelry, flatware, candlesticks and bowls constructed from mixed elements of silver and iron alloy: half polished elegance, half rustic simplicity.

“The best of both our worlds,” Nicole says. “A marriage of our passions and our families’ trades.”

Though only four years old, Sterling and Steel has grown with astonishing speed. In 2013, the Hansens carted thousands of pounds of their work to four trade shows around the country. This year, they’re planning on 12. “We go as far as Philadelphia to the east and Seattle to the west,” Harry says.

Despite its rapid growth, the company emphasizes close-to-home craftsmanship. The Hansens’ black- and silversmith shops, where they forge all the pieces they sell, are attached to the garage of their house. Nicole’s parents live next door. “Any time I have a question, my father’s the first one I call,” she says. “And my mom is an amazing designer and businesswoman. We constantly run things by her.” Their kids, Diedra, 14, and Ethan, 16, help with some of the simpler tasks—shaping uncomplicated pieces such as olive picks and bar spoons.

“The goal, eventually,” Harry says, “is to wholesale some of our pieces to stores. That way, Nicole and I can start working on bigger stuff, the one-of-a-kind items that really float our boat. That day is coming soon, we hope. Crossing our fingers.”

For now, though, they both agree: “One piece at a time.”

Sterling and Steel
The business: Hand-formed heirloomquality metal pieces including jewelry, flatware, candlesticks, bowls and more
Year founded: 2013
Employees: Two

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