Robert Merkert – Unique Jeweler Interview

Equinite RingName
Robert Merkert

Website & Places you can find my work online
My gems are called Equinite and can be seen, purchased and set in jewelry at My jewelry is also in the Saratoga Art Gallery gift shop.

Where I am
I live in Brandon, Vermont.

Tell us a little about you, what is your background & where do you come from?
My wife and I have 3 children and live in central Vermont. Two children are still at home and the oldest has already left the nest. I turned my hobby of jewelery making into my final career as a jeweler. I own a small, full service, jewelry shop called Dockside Jewelers, in Whitehall, NY.

Jumping right in, your gems are perhaps the most unique thing in town because they are made from horse hoof trimmings. Where did this interesting idea come from?
The “discovery” of Equinite was either accidental or divinely inspired, you decide. We had just gotten our daughter a horse named Misty and this horse stuff was all new to us. The previous owner hadn’t clipped the hoofs over the winter and told us to have a farrier come and clip the hoofs. So we did so and as soon as the farrier left, out of curiosity, I went out to the barn. I don’t know what I was expecting to see, but what I did see was incredible. The sun was bright but it seemed very dark in the barn.

Equinite Pendant

When I looked in the stall there was a thin beam of sunlight slicing through the darkness and landed on a hoof clipping on the floor. The clipping was slightly wet causing it to sparkle. This scene looked like it was set up and staged by a professional production lighting crew.

After a moment, I said “What the heck?” and picked up the hoof clipping. I examined it and could see that it was translucent and had inner beauty. So I took it to the basement to see what I could do with this material. As a jeweler, I decided to make a bracelet for my daughter, so I did. Before I gave my daughter the bracelet, I showed it to a few people and was so surprised at their responses. People were amazed and couldn’t believe that it came from a horse hoof. I started to get requests from people, for custom gems from their own horse as a keepsake. So I came up with and trademarked the name Equinite.

Equinite Pendant

Can you explain the process of creating these gems or is it Top Secret?
When the hoof trimmings dry, they get as hard as a rock. I work it like you would work and gem stone.

Is every hoof different or do you see similarities in different breeds or colors?
It seems that every hoof is unique, like the horses they came from. Based on the color of the hoof, Equinite gem colors range from snow white to black, with browns, grey and even pinkish in between. Even within the same hoof clipping the colors vary. The hardest part of manufacturing is matching the color of two gems for earrings.

Equinite Bracelet

You create custom jewelry for people with their own horse’s trimmings, how long does the process take from start to finish?
It depends on how many orders I have, but I can usually ship in about 3 weeks.

How much hoof do you need & how should interested parties prepare them for you?
The Equinite gem comes from the wall, or the outside face of the hoof clipping. I need at least a one quarter inch long clipping to get a good gem. The bigger the clipping the better. This is hard for some people that clip every six weeks because the clippings are too thin for me to work with. Here in Vermont, a lot of people go longer, especially in the winter if they are not riding.

The clippings need to be cleaned, sanitized with bleach and air dried before they can be mailed. Detailed instructions for custom Equinite are on our website.

Equinite Pendant

What if you don’t have a horse? Do you have a stash of gems set aside for those who can only dream of owning their own?
We have a nice selection of Equinite rings, pendants, bracelets, etc. on our website.

What effect do you think the Internet will have on art and jewelry?
If you have art or jewelry that appeals to a specific group, like horse lovers, the internet allows you to easily display, discuss and sell your work. I have only been online for about a year and I have already made items for people all over the U.S. and in Canada.

Equinite Pendant

More to Come

Thanks to Robert for answering the interview and sharing more about her writing. Be sure to check out the equinite site periodically for updates about his latest jewels.

Also stay tuned for more interviews with horse artists, photographers & authors. Are you a horse artist or do you know an equine artist you’d like to see featured? Add your name and website in the comments below or drop me a note to get involved.

4 Comments on “Robert Merkert – Unique Jeweler Interview

  1. Eleanor Van Natta

    TOTALLY COOL! Thanks once again Paige for bringing to light really neat horse stuff! Almost unbelievable – I am going to have to check out his site. What’s next – clothes made out of your horse’s hair? :)

  2. Mia Wroe

    I’m in my early teens and been obsesed with horses since the beging of time. I adore you stuff and will defintly visit your wedsite! Find something so unique is hard and I think you have made something that in everyday life can express the pure beauty of the horse.

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