CRASHED into Crazy Beautiful: How One Women makes Wrecked Exotics Into Exquisite Jewelry
You know when something catches your eye? Maybe it’s an exotic car or exquisite piece of jewelry.
Now, imagine something even more spectacular: both in one!
CRASH Jewelry is a woman owned company that creates unique, one of a kind jewelry made from Porsches, Lamborghinis, Ferraris and more.
Scrolling through their inventory, your first reaction may be, “Ooh! I want that.”
However, the ‘want’ will quickly turn into ‘need’ when realizing that these aluminum and steel handcuffs, necklaces and even earrings are parts of doors or hoods of some the world’s favorite cars!
Beauty & Keys: Christi, thank you for taking time with us at Beauty & Keys! We love that you are both an art and car enthusiast.
Tell us about yourself! What inspired you to start Crash Jewelry?
Christi Schimpke: I wasn’t much of a car enthusiast until I met and married my husband, Dan, who co-owns Beverly Coachcraft, which specializes in the repair of late model European cars. He really got me interested in cars!
My background is in art history and I worked for many years at the Getty Museum.
I am a metalsmith and had another jewelry business, Minabea, that featured more traditional types of jewelry, i.e., sterling silver and gold.
A few years ago I moved my jewelry studio into my husband’s auto body shop.
I watched Porsches, Maseratis, and Lamborghinis with banged-up hoods and scratched doors enter his shop, only to be restored to their gleaming former selves. I found myself wondering what they did with all of the damaged metal that had to be replaced.
Although they often recycled this sheet metal, I was struck by another idea: what if I used my metalworking expertise to create upcycled jewelry from luxury car metal?
CRASH Jewelry was born, and I have been making cuffs, bracelets, earrings, and cuff-links with the gorgeous colors and finishes of the world’s most fabulous cars for the past seven years.
Seven years! Wow! Onward and upward; we can’t wait to watch your continued success.
So, where do you find the scrap metal to design the jewelry? P.S. We saw on your site that all paint is original factory paint- that is AWESOME!
I mostly acquire the car metal with the original factory finishes from cars that are having parts replaced (doors, hoods, fenders, quarter panels).
Sometimes I will get metal from another shop that specializes in exotic cars, and sometimes a customer will send me metal and I will make custom pieces for them.
What pieces of jewelry were the most special for you to make?
The ones that are the most special are often from customers who want a keepsake from their car. For example, a young man brought me the fender from his father’s prized Miata and asked me to make jewelry for his mom. His father had recently passed away, so now his mom can wear remembrances of her husband every day.
Wow! How incredibly special and significant for the family! Please share more!
Susan Purkhiser is a stunt woman/driver and her beloved ‘Sophie’ a BMW M4 perished in the Woolsey fire a couple of years ago.
Without Susan knowing, her friends cut out a section of the burned BMW and brought it to me. I made her a cuff from Sophie and she wears it all the time.
That is beyond amazing! What a treasured possession for Susan! How wonderful you are able to influence people’s daily lives with your art and their cars.
Has it ever made you somewhat sad to make the jewelry from a certain car/marque, as that means it ‘crashed’? For example, for us, designing something from a Ferrari 458 would be amazing but then that means one of our favorite cars is toast. Ha!
Well, the story above about the father who passed was sad, but it wasn’t accident related. Our shop doesn’t work or touch cars that are totaled. We mostly work on expensive cars with minor damage (no one was hurt or died).
Dented or scratched parts are being replaced and the car is returned good as new to the customer, so no, it doesn’t bother me because I’m not dealing with a totaled vehicle.
But I see what you are saying! Most people are more interested in the repurposing of car metal and also the car that it came from. Often they aspire to drive or purchase a luxury/exotic car but are unable to, so owning a piece of jewelry from their favorite car is the next best thing!
I am sure it’s hard to choose, but do you have a favorite marque the you love designing jewelry from?
I would have to say Ferrari, especially those painted Rosso Corsa (also known as Racing Red).
We love our Ferraris too (the 458 or F40 are our favorites)! What is your favorite car to drive?
My favorite car to drive is my Mercedes E350 Cabriolet.
I love that you have made your passion into something so unique in the car industry. What advice do you have to women wanting to start a business in a male dominated industry?
Stick with it and don’t listen to mansplainers.
If I had a dollar for every man that has told me that my husband must be proud of my ‘little hobby’ I would be rich. In the beginning I used to hire men but I quickly realized that I preferred to work with women. The men I hired (and those that I meet at shows) often feel they know more than me and can’t wait to tell me so.
Stay confident and be true to yourself and trust your intuition.
What is your favorite quote or mantra?
‘Be kind to yourself for you know yourself better than anyone else’
That is all great advice. Thank you, Christi! We can’t wait to see your jewelry everywhere!