When Samantha Levine isn’t studying for her upcoming bar exam, chances are she can be found in her home studio working with hammers, drills, handsaws or a blowtorch.
Levine has become adept using those tools as the creator of Auburn Jewelry, a company she launched last year while still attending law school at Western New England University.
Jewelry making and law may appear to be disparate fields, but Levine discovered how much she enjoyed both while a student at Chappaqua’s Horace Greeley High School. Her two favorite activities were mock trial and heading to the school’s metals studio. Levine even founded Greeley’s Jewelry Club and became a teacher’s assistant her senior year because it provided her with an excuse to spend more time in the studio, she said.
“I was going to go to law school because I didn’t think I could make a career from the jewelry,” Levine said. “That was iffy. My parents were like go to law school, so I went to law school.”
The clincher was a bit of advice from her jewelry professor at Skidmore College, where Levine majored in American Studies and minored in jewelry and metals: “You can make jewelry with a law degree but you can’t practice law with a jewelry degree.”
Levine, 26, finished law school in January, but it was last May when she started Auburn Jewelry. Since then, she has steadily seen her business grow, selling her merchandise through its website and in several local stores, including Beehive in Mount Kisco, D’Errico Jewelers in Mount Kisco and Scarsdale and The Glass Onion in Pleasantville.
She crafts all of the pieces by hand–earrings, cufflinks, bracelets, rings, necklaces and more–using sterling silver and 14-carot gold. Recently, Levine has also developed her Elle Collection featuring initialized pendants made of enamel and sterling silver that come in 12 different colors.
This week she’s prepared to unveil her SPCA line, pendants with dog bones or fish. Levine, who has two cats that she adopted from the shelter, will donate 10 percent of the proceeds from sales of the line to the SPCA in Briarcliff.
While Levine has always been attracted to art, it was her tour of Greeley High School as an incoming freshman that acquainted her with the metals program and where she became enamored with jewelry making.
“I was always very artsy,” recalled Levine, whose parents moved to Chappaqua from Manhattan when she was 12 years old. “I loved to paint. I loved art ever since I was little. That was my favorite thing in school, so when I saw that I could use a blowtorch and do art I got very excited about it.”
When she arrived at Skidmore, one of the few colleges with a metals program, Levine’s major and minor gave her a nice mixture of academics and art.
During the first year of law school, however, she questioned whether she had made the correct decision.
“I got through first semester, got through second semester and stuck it out,” she said. “I ended up liking it a lot. The first year is really tough but after I got through the first year I was sticking with it.”
Levine has worked with Richard J. Block, a Yorktown attorney whose firm specializes in corporate immigration. She hopes to stay there once she passes the bar exam.
Juggling multiple tasks is nothing new for Levine. Since starting high school she has held as many as three jobs simultaneously.
“I’ve been doing this my whole life,” Levine said. “Since I’ve been 14 when I could start working and I’ve held three jobs every summer.”
It was toward the end of 2011 when Levine decided to turn her skill and passion into a business venture. As a Hanukkah present, she asked her parents whether she could convert a corner of their basement into her studio.
“They really didn’t mind that I was taking over part of the basement,” said Levine, who loves to knit, cook and spend time with her cats. “They realized that once it was set up and they realized there would be lots of hammering, I think that was the biggest surprise. I don’t think that they realized it would be noisy and I’d be down there all the time.”
Now Levine’s using that studio to provide gifts for others. She wouldn’t mind a bit if one day she has to choose between jewelry and the law.
“I love doing jewelry,” she said. “Obviously, it’s my passion. I’ve been doing it forever. If the business really happens to take off I would go with it.”
For more information on Auburn Jewelry, visit www.auburn-jewelry.com.