Drue Sanders always knew she wanted to be an artist. What she didn’t want to be was a starving artist.
While receiving her bachelor’s degree in Studio Art and English from the University at Albany in 1972, Sanders opted to do an apprenticeship with Brian Faunce Silversmiths in Hyannis, Mass.
“I knew jewelry-making would afford me the ability to use my creative talents, while still being able to pay the bills,” she said.
She then went on to begin the master’s program in Metal Sculpture to Wear at UAlbany and started her first business venture during the summers in Cape Cod. Drue’s first store opened in 1973 in The Whaler’s Warf in Provincetown.
“I had enough money to rent the store, but what I didn’t have was enough money to live. To make up for it, I lived out of a tent for six months out of the year for three years,” Sanders said. “If you ask me if I ever want to go camping again, the answer is ‘no.’”
After deciding to move back to her hometown, Drue Sanders Silversmith, LTD was founded in 1975. The business went through several expansions and transformed from a staff of two in Menands to a freestanding building with five employees in Albany.
Now known as Drue Sanders Custom Jewelers, the business has been at its current location on Western Avenue since June 1989. The store specializes in custom-made jewelry in all prices ranges, but also does cleanings and appraisal.
“We’re very different from the average jewelry store. We make about 90 percent of what we sell in-house, and I think that’s what makes the difference,” said Sanders.
The shop-owner said the Capital District has been very supportive of her art. In return, she has taken inspiration from many of the area’s landmarks.