A jewelry designer and silver- and goldsmith with more than four decades of experience in her field, Shelly Culea owns and operates Shelly Culea Jewelry & Silversmithing in Mequon, Wisconsin. Commanding a long and impressive professional background, Shelly Culea began to lay the foundations for her career while an undergraduate at The University of Kansas. For four years, she studied all aspects of jewelry design, enameling, silversmithing, and other related subjects at The University of Kansas, building a well-rounded skill set for her future profession. After she earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts, Shelly Culea embarked on a highly diversified career in jewelry making and design, beginning with a stint at Kirchner Corporation in Golden Valley, Minnesota. As the first female journeyman in the Minnesota Jewelry Union, Shelly Culea learned the finer points of manufacturing and repair at Kirchner Corporation, sizing engagement and wedding rings, fixing broken jewelry, and restoring damaged jewelry. At the end of this formative period, she founded Shelly Culea Jewelry & Silversmithing, through which she continues to make custom jewelry and hollowware on a commission basis. In addition, Shelly Culea spent four years as a freelance designer for Jewelmont Corporation in Minneapolis, where she cultivated a specialization in rings and pendants made from silver, gold, diamonds, and other precious metals and gemstones. During this time, Shelly Culea’s work was featured in the Dayton’s Christmas catalog and sold through various department stores and jewelry shops, art fairs, and galleries, including the Walker Art Center, the Minneapolis Aquatennial, Lowell Lundeen Jewelry, and Scheherazade Jewelers.
Since then, Shelly Culea has enjoyed continued success in jewelry design, appearing recently at the Museum of Wisconsin Art to show her work and speak on her career. A longtime member of the Wisconsin Designer Crafts Council, Shelly Culea lives and works in the greater Milwaukee metropolitan area.