J. Cotter Gallery

Pollock bracelet, 14 karat yellow gold with pavè diamonds

234 east wall street  |  vail  •  970.476.3131


market square, unit 5  |  beaver creek  •  970.949.8111

featuring Jim Cotter, Goldsmith, Sculptor & Installation Artist

“It’s like making little model cars all day long, and I get to do that,” he says. “So it’s really kind of fun.”

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In a modern world generated by screens and keystrokes, imagination and craftsmanship have still remained the godfathers of creativity. Step into Jim Cotter’s jewelry studio in Minturn and the buzz of a true artisan is tangible. One computer in the room seems to dissolve behind the books that line his shelves and the colorful masks hanging on the walls. 


If this time-tested-space could tell stories, the narratives might be similar to Cotter’s stream of consciousness when he is designing a new piece. 


“My imagination runs pretty wild,” he admits, “and I have it coming from everywhere. One thing we don’t ever have to worry about here is a lack of ideas.” 


Cotter creates all types of jewelry and art, exclusively one-of-a-kind items. His work is more textured than most, and incorporates different materials and found objects, from concrete to gold, feathers to stones. 


“We live around texture here,” he explains, “it pretty much everywhere. These mountains are rugged compared to a place like North Carolina, where they are soft. I think that influences a little of what you see and feel.” 


Cotter’s style could be called organic, or contemporary or unique, or all of the above, but it’s distinctively his, and that’s what his clients keep coming back for, year after year. The J. Cotter Gallery opened in Vail Village in 1970, and he has since opened a gallery in Beaver Creek. He creates new art all the time with an impressive dedication to perfecting and evolving his craft. As he says, “I try to make something every day, even if it’s a mistake.” 


Cuffs, or bracelets that fasten to a wrist with an opening rather than a loose, full-circled bangle, are some of Cotter’s favorite jewelry pieces to work on. His rings are similar — wider bands with a fluid movement of whatever material he uses. White or yellow gold cuffs become a sea of shine, broken only by inset stones that carry a sheen of their own. 


Cotter works on a lot of commissioned projects, and often for cuffs he will incorporate clients’ estate pieces, diamonds or rubies into his design. He sits at his desk, works a wax over and over until he gets the shape and texture just right. 

— kim fuller

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