The Courage to Do What You Love – the Evolution of Cicada Metals

The Making of a Metalsmith.

This story was sponsored and told by Mitzy Jonkheer of Cicada Metals and Jonkheer Jewelers.

 It was an unexpected love affair.

 Mitzy Jonkheer was an English major at East Carolina University in Greenville, NC. And, she had no intention of folding artist into her repertoire.

Happy Accident

It was just before Christmas, in December of 1987, and she wanted to  have a ring made for her mother using aged gold jewelry that she had been saving. So, she unassumingly walked into what she thought was a local jewelry store.

Instead of being greeted by a jeweler, Jonkheer discovered a Metalsmith behind the counter. Jewelry, like none she’d seen before, filled the shop. Each piece appeared to her to be wrapped in stories. She watched the Metalsmith at work, astonished by a sense that she’d, quite suddenly, found her calling.  

Despite the fact that she’d never actually made jewelry, and had little to do with it other than a childhood fascination with her grandmother’s costume jewelry, she didn’t question it.

“I walked out of the shop just knowing,” Jonkheer said. “This was what I wanted to do.”

Foundation First

A couple of weeks later, on Christmas day, her mother opened her gift, and Jonkheer immediately announced to her parents that she was changing her major. She would pursue a BFA in Metal Design. Her mother knew her well enough to know that she was quite serious. She instantly supported Jonkheer’s decision and was thrilled to know that she’d found the thing she loved and could dedicate herself to.

Jonkheer’s mother wore the ring that she gave her that Christmas until she died in 2001. And, since the day of her death, Jonkheer has rarely taken it off of her own finger.

“I’m not sure I would have committed myself so completely to all of this without my mother’s support,” Jonkheer said.

An ounce of encouragement makes a pound of courage. And, Jonkheer says, she has everything she needs because of it.

“I have a rich life,” she said. “I get to make jewelry that takes part in a story or comes with a story that I get to add to. It makes people happy. And, I’m able to share that gift with children and adults, to teach them how to create beautiful, wearable pieces of art.”

Inspiration Takes Flight

Jonkheer dedicated the name of her shop, Cicada Metals, to her mother. 

“Whenever I see a cicada, a butterfly and even a dragonfly, I feel like it’s my mother saying hello,” she said. “Somehow, they remind me that she’s always with me.”

And, signs of winged creatures are everywhere in her shop – cicada wings pressed into silver, butterflies embellished with precious stones hanging on necklaces, and bejeweled dragonfly earrings.

When Jonkheer found the space now occupied by Cicada Metals and Jonkheer Jewelry on the corner of North Kerr and Wrightsville Ave., she used it solely as a studio. Over the years it has evolved into a gallery.  Local and regional artists, many of whom are Jonkheer’s close friends, display their art there. 

Now, both a Metalsmith and a jewelry designer, Jonkheer spends a great deal of her time handcrafting custom, one-of-a-kind pieces of wearable art in gold and silver.

Walking into Cicada, you’ll find jewelry, art, and décor like none you’ve seen before. Everything in the shop appears to be wrapped in stories. 


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