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Molly Rahe invites public to view jewelry making process in new retail space



STAFF PHOTOS: VERN UYETAKE - Jeweler Molly Rahe has opened Elizabeth Jewelry in Westlake Village. The shop is two-thirds studio space where people can watch her make jewelry and one-third retail.

A $7 investment made 20 years ago has grown into a pot of gold and sterling silver for Lake Oswego resident Molly Rahe.

Rahe has worked in the jeweler industry since 1988 with Monet and Liz Palacios, popular lines sold at Macy’s, Nordstrom and other retailers.

When she was bedridden in 1995 during pregnancy, her mother brought her a hatbox filled with colorful beads and books on jewelry making and told her to “have at it.” And so she taught herself how to make jewelry using cold fusion wire wrapping methods.

“I got some basic pliers and wire from the garage and soon miles of wire-wrapped beaded chain appeared,” Rahe writes on her webpage.

Four months after giving birth to her daughter, Elizabeth, she launched her own jewelry line, Elizabeth Jewelry.

“My daughter, Elizabeth, made it full term, a very healthy baby. She was, and still is, the prettiest thing I have ever made, so I named my jewelry line after her,” she said.

Rahe said she cut up the beaded chain and made necklaces and earrings, selling that at a friend’s garage sale.

“I made $70 and reinvested it with genuine sterling silver and gemstones,” she said. “I then sold those items to friends and family for a few months, always reinvesting to make more product. Soon I had enough to make a small sample line.”

She also invested in metalsmithing classes at Portland Community College and found mentors among other jewelers to teach her more.

With her sample line complete, she used the Yellow Pages to create a list of potential boutiques to carry her jewelry line.

“I made lists of women’s fashion boutiques in specific neighborhoods and visited everyone,” she said. “Then I chose the top three stores in each neighborhood and wrote letters to them introducing my line.”

Rahe describes her jewelry line as being “timeless, elegant and affordable.” She wholesales to more than 100 stores across the United States, including gift shops at Embassy Suites and Marriott Hotels. The Made in Oregon Corporation is a big customer and she makes jewelry worn by the Rose Festival Court.

Building the business has been a long slow process. She worked from home so she could be home when her children got home from school, logging as many as 70 hours a week. Providing products for all her customers is a big order.

“How fast can I make an incredible thing?” has to be her focus, she said. “I have evolved my business over the years and now do a lot of hand fabrication with sterling, 14-karat gold fill, pearls and gemstones. I cut, grind, saw, hammer, wire-wrap. This year I also bought a MakerBot Replicator 2 3-D printer. This opens up a whole new world for design and jewelry makers. After creating a 3-D file with a new design (which can take dozens of hours) I then ‘slice’ it in MakerWare, and print. Once it prints successfully (dozens of hours more ...) I can cast them in sterling or bronze.”

Rahe became an empty nester recently and took that opportunity to open a storefront in Westlake Village.

“My store is two-thirds working studio, where people can view me making the jewelry and one-third retail,” she said. “My favorite aspect of having this store is being part of the community and getting to know my neighbors. It is a joy to be here! I have been so warmly welcomed.”

The store carries her Elizabeth Jewelry line which includes earrings, necklaces, mom’s necklaces, personalized initials and birthstones, and other locally handcrafted items made by Rahe’s friends.

Elizabeth Jewelry is all handmade and not available anywhere else in Lake Oswego. Every piece comes with an unconditional lifetime guarantee.

The store is located at 14559 Westlake Drive Suite B1 in Lake Oswego. Store hours are 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The phone number is 503-522-4763.

To learn more, visit ElizabethJewelry.com.

Contact Barb Randall at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 503-636-1281 ext. 100.

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