E Komo Mai!
Envision a perfect day at a beach. A memorable, happy day. A day of freedom and salt air and clear blue water. And then a serendipitous shell, spirited in by a wave, lands at your feet like a kiss.
You pick it up. It’s perfect and beautiful. It speaks to you and it becomes special. Commemorating a special moment on that perfect day of freedom. Off the beach, it’s just a little shell, meaningless to everyone else. But to you… all it represents! This is why you covet it. The story. Your story.
At ‘Alohi Kai we seek to deliver that joy every day. A thing to desire. A secret delight. A treasure.
Who are you? The one always on-trend, or rather do you seek things you love? (They may be the same thing with different reasons) Do you opt for the unusual? Seek unique or exceptionally made things? The thing that calls your name, and with that je ne c’est quoi that makes you want to touch it. A bauble that brings an unbidden smile to your lips when you see it in the light, and gives you a little lift when the day gets too heavy. Something that brings a little bit of wonderful into the universe of banal.
Our jewelry is bourne from a love of the deep blue, and created by hand with sweat and fire and aloha in Hawaii. We want to help you push back the edge of banal – wear secrets of the sea to accompany you on your daily journey to be extraordinary.
We stand against the undervalued. We fight for their voice. Young women, small players, and things that are different. Like them, our pieces are not disposable. Our designs represent experiences, have a story, and are meant to last generations. Each design is a tale of ocean survival, hardship and uniqueness, a symbol of perserverence.
Our jewelry evolves in a similar way; using ‘slow’ methods we hand carve and sculpt our models using a knife or flame. We set stones, wire wrap, fabricate and polish our jewelry by hand. We’re small and do things in small batches to ensure each piece meets our quality standards. We don’t use overseas labor for production and all our metals are sourced from the US. And we make decisions with the impacts of what we do in mind – opting for non-toxic processes and reusable (or recycled materials) packaging. We live on a tiny rock in the middle of the ocean, these choices matter.
The results are small scale, hand-carved sculptures steeped with strength and luxury you can feel.
Our designs are often conceived underwater. After selecting (and usually photographing) a subject, I sketch designs and angles before carefully carving and sculpting it in a very hard jeweler’s wax. These small scale sculptures are prepped, smoothed, then cast in silver; master castings are finished with many iterations of ever finer files, sandpaper, flexshaft, and polishers. Watch the video to see a bit of how we make a master for casting in silver.
I may make a silicone mold from masters and use castings to fabricate larger pieces of jewelry like our Zoanthid necklace (below left). Others are finished as a final piece like the octopus bangle (below right). Every item is hand-finished at each stage – the process is surprisingly labor-intensive.
Shera Mercer is an ocean-obsessed designer, maker & underwater photographer based in Hawaii. Despite starting silversmithing at 17, she found herself in corporate life in the US and the UK. Rethinking that path, she hung up her business suits in favor of wetsuits and now dives every week in the blue of the Pacific with her husband Joe.