Hi, I’m Chad Barela and I’m a second generation silversmith from New Mexico.
I fell into the trade accidentally. I moved to Nashville in 2013 and was back and forth from Albuquerque trying to make a long-distance relationship work with my now-wife, Bree. During my first summer home, I was struggling to find a way to make money. I knew I’d be leaving again soon and couldn’t figure out how to work an especially “part-time” job during my stay.
I had a new and growing appreciation for my hometown and it’s culture during this time— something I hadn’t possessed before I spent some time away from it. When my dad offered to teach me how to make jewelry, I didn’t hesitate. I considered it a unique talent he possessed, and I liked the idea of learning from him and sharing in a craft he enjoys.
After I learned the basics, I completed a few pieces and shared my progress on Instagram. The response was great, right off the bat. I was surprised! Turquoise jewelry is a staple in New Mexico, and I wasn’t expecting people to get so excited about it. The friends I’d made in Nashville were into the Southwest vibe I’d come to take for granted having been raised in the midst of it. They were my first buyers, and their support is what pushed me to keep going.
Over the past couple of years, both my jewelry and branding styles have evolved. I find inspiration from the culture around me, my personal heritage and history, and from other artists as well. I love what I do, and I’m thankful for the opportunity to do it.