With parrot in tow, Wes Hart handcrafts stunning jewelry and incredible miniatures, the old fashioned way.
By Linda Jaquette. Photograph by Mandy Mohler of Field Guide Designs.
Hart Jewelers in Whitefish, Montana specializes in handcrafted fine jewelry, created with Montana Fancy Sapphires that can be found in all of the colors of the rainbow.
Owner Wes Hart has been in the jewelry industry for 45 years. He started out as an apprentice in a large wholesale jewelry trade shop in Spokane, Washington in 1972. His first store was in downtown Spokane, opening just two weeks before the eruption of Mount St. Helens.
In 1986, Wes partnered with his friend Stuart Milter to establish Stuart Jewelers, one of the early tenants of Whitefish’s Mountain Mall. After spending time in Arizona, Wes returned to Whitefish to help with Stuart Jewelers until Stu retired in 2008. Wes then decided to begin his own shop, and opened Hart Jewelers in a building across from the Whitefish Middle School. Later he moved to the store’s current location, 711 Spokane Avenue.
Hart Jewelers’ storefront is along Highway 93 between Reggie’s Quick Lube and Lakestream Fly Fishing Shop. If you ask someone directions, they are likely to tell you to look for the grey 1953 Citroen, which Wes restored himself over the last 40 years (with much appreciated help from friends). You might also see Wes outside with Chauncey, his exotic macaw parrot, on his shoulder. She loves guests!
In addition to fine pieces of jewelry, Wes has received international recognition for his miniature replicas. You can find pictures on their Facebook page of his Colt #3 Derringer pistol that is half an inch long, has 16 parts, and is fully functional. Other tiny works of replica art include 1/12 size scale .45 caliber Colt pistols, antique style rifles, a medieval knight in plate armor, and a beautiful Cinderella carriage decorated with opals, pearls, and diamonds.
Some of his miniatures are on display in the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh.
Wes tells a story about creating a lawn mower to be given as a gift to an older gentleman who always loved working outdoors but was unable to do so any more. Wes speaks with pride of his work and the tedious process which does not include computer-aided design and is completely handmade. He prefers the feel for the end result that only comes from designing each piece the old-fashioned, hand-crafted way. Once the design work is finished, he sets to work meticulously crafting that vision into a work of art that is not only breathtaking but feels more authentic and more organic than jewelry you will find anywhere else.
Wes Hart is a true artisan who has honed his skills to perfection over more than four decades of doing it the same way. Wes’ pride in his work, painstaking process, and insistence on perfection shine in everything he does.
A post on the Facebook page for Hart Jewelers carries a warning that the pictures don’t do justice to the jewelry. It’s true; they don’t. The pictures are stunning but, to truly experience the exquisite beauty and impeccable craftsmanship, you need to stop by the Hart Jewelers store and see these gorgeous rings, bracelets, pendants, and earrings in person. If you would prefer, Wes can design and craft a one-of-kind, piece of jewelry or miniature which perfectly reflects your style and taste. As a master goldsmith, Wes can create a perfect custom ring for a customer in only a few days, and many repairs are done while the customer waits. Montana sapphires and custom jewelry are Hart Jewelers’ specialty.
You can find Hart Jewelers at www.hartjeweler.com or on Facebook. Call them at 406.862.6252 or better yet, stop by the store Monday through Saturday between 10:00 am and 5:00 pm. Wes and Chauncey are waiting to help you pick out or create the perfect piece of jewelry.
About the Author: Linda Jaquette serves as the Development Assistant at Citizens for a Better Flathead.