If you can’t have a Ferrari, wear one!
Christi Schimpke is unlike most people in that when she sees a luxury car that has been in a minor crash, she sees not damage, but art. She was working with metal as a jewelry designer when she moved her studio into her husband’s luxury-car body shop, Beverly CoachCraft, which is just four miles south of UCLA and west of downtown Los Angeles.
The cost of metal was rising and Christi was finding it difficult to turn a profit when she had a brilliant idea: why not utilize the metal right there in front of her? There was a constantly-replenishing supply of car parts in the shop, and finding a way to recycle them appealed to her environmentally-conscious heart. That’s when she started CRASH Jewelry.
Beverly CoachCraft specializes in collision repairs for late-model vehicles from Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi, Bentley, Porsche, Mini Cooper, Maserati, and more, so there was no shortage of beauty in Christi’s line of vision. She has a background in art history and is trained in metalworking, and she now works almost exclusively in steel and aluminum.
“Most of our cars are aluminum these days,” she says. “Steel is usually a relief for me to work on because it is so malleable. Whenever I get a piece of steel car metal I am happy because I know that bending the cuff will be so much easier than bending aluminum; aluminum is really tough and extremely difficult to shape. However, it cuts like butter and that is something of a thrill!”
My friend Amelia Dalgaard of Motorhead Mama tipped me off to CRASH cuffs, and I not-so-subtly sent my husband a few text messages with links to the ones I loved. Secretly, he turned that information over to a group of my friends, who bought me a cuff bracelet for my birthday made from a Ferrari 360 Modena. The car was originally enrobed in Azzuro California, which is a highly-metallic, sparkly paint color. Then she added a narrow strip along the edge made from stainless steel taken from the wheel cover of a Mercedes-Benz G550. It’s stunning.
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The design process starts with a little piece of a supercar
Christi doesn’t usually begin a design with a clear blueprint either in her mind or on paper. Factors like which part of the car the metal came from, the paint quality, and how damaged it dictates what she creates, and that results in one-of-a-kind pieces across the board.
“Sometimes happy accidents turn out to be my most interesting designs,” she says. “I used to get upset when things didn’t all come together but after years of trial and error, I’ve learned to go with the flow and see what happens. On really bad days I have to walk away and begin fresh the next day. Learning how to quit rather than force a design has helped tremendously. It’s like becoming a more mature person.”
It’s important to note that no one was injured in the making of CRASH jewelry, so don’t worry about any creepy affiliations. The jewelry is made from doors, hoods, fenders, and quarter panels that were damaged on the lot or by a valet. If a car is badly damaged, then she can’t touch it anyway, because it’s usually a total loss and it belongs to the insurance company.
These works of art are not just for women, either
CRASH Jewelry offers a selection for men, too, so this would be a great gift for a car-obsessed dad, son, husband, or boyfriend. There is a very cool set of cuff links made from a Tesla in Titanium set in bronze, and another crafted from a sexy Lamborghini Gallardo in Monterey Blue.
Are you craving one of Christi’s gorgeous cuffs? You’re in luck, because she’s offering A Girls Guide to Cars readers are special gift: 15% off on everything, even sale items. Choose the item you want and click checkout, then use code GG15 in the slot for a gift card or discount code.