It’s not every day you meet a designer like Rachel Chertoff. The 28-year-old artist has unicorn-quality talent and rare, get-it-done grit. She’s a one-woman force behind her jewelry business, with products sold online and in boutiques across the U.S. Chertoff is Chertova.
Born and raised in Buffalo, New York, Chertoff can’t recall a time when she didn’t have a passion for fashion and design. So it came as no surprise when she left New York for art school at Columbus College of Art and Design and graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in fashion at 21. She credits a small-scale metals course as the crucial experience that compelled her to transition to jewelry design. “I could manipulate materials and metals, like I had with fabric,” she says.
Following graduation, Chertoff landed an impressive first design job at the boho women’s clothing company Free People. Next, she was courted away to design sweaters for Columbus-based clothing brand Layne Bryant. “The corporate design world took the fun out of something I really enjoyed,” she says. “I needed a job that I could enjoy and get the spark I had when I was in school.”
So in 2014, Chertova was born, offering seasonal jewelry collections. Chertoff, who currently lives in Cincinnati and works at Mica 12/v, handcrafts the kind of accessories you never want to take off. Dubbed “bedside jewelry” by her fans who only remove them to sleep, the gold- and sterling silver–filled earrings, rings, and necklaces are created for everyday wear (and, no, they won’t turn your skin green).
With sustainability in mind, she sources recycled metal from Rio Grande and ethically acquired, milled American diamonds. Every piece is individually soldered, formed, polished, and finished by Chertoff. “I recycle metal scraps and dust to take the process full circle,” she says. “No one gets a piece of Chertova jewelry that wasn’t handled by my own hands.”
Chertoff attributes her work ethic and commitment to quality to her parents’ examples and support (and her Boston terrier and studio helper, Rudy). “My dad often reminds me of reinvention, salesmanship, and customer service,” she says. “At any time, you never know who you are going to meet.” It’s no secret that Chertoff’s inspiration stems from her family and life events. The choice to name the business Chertova pays tribute to her Russian ancestors’ original name (before it was changed at Ellis Island). She also named two jewelry collections after her sisters, Manda and Sydney. “My work is an outlet to release emotions and work through life experiences,” she says. “My family—and who I surround myself with—is my inspiration.”
Chertova is sold online and in select brick and mortar stores across the U.S., including Mica 12/v and The Most Beautiful Thing in the World (online only) in Over-the-Rhine; Ali Golden in Oakland, California; Treehaus in Los Angeles; and Scout and Molly’s in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania.