by faye power | May 23, 2014 | Style & Beauty
The Hayes family ushers in its next generation of silversmiths, with Jess Bates overseeing the 65-year-old Aspen-based business.
Scalloped, oval trout, and rectangular sterling handmade belt buckles, Hayes Silver & Goldsmithing ($1,250 each).
There is a saying around Aspen that “Everybody who is anybody in Aspen has a Hayes Aspen leaf,” says Hayes’s owner Jess Bates, the youngest daughter of award-winning journalist Mary Eshbaugh Hayes and the late Jim Hayes, founder of Hayes Silver & Goldsmithing. This year marks a milestone for the family-run company: 65 years in the goldand silversmithing business.
Texas-born Jim Hayes came to Aspen for a ski vacation in 1949 and “spent all his money and was forced to stay,” according to town legend. In 1950 he created the first signature leaf belt buckle, a design that has been embedded in the history of the city and intimately connects the local fraternity of its wearers, including the international ski community that flocks to Aspen and the Roaring Fork Valley every year.
The handmade buckles demonstrate a high standard of craftsmanship, and custom-made styles take between six and eight weeks to make, though the signature leaf style remains the most popular design.
An accomplished jeweler in her own right, Bates served a six-year apprenticeship under her father, during which she learned “absolute attention to detail, quality, and durability,” she says, principles that still guide the company today. Not only do these iconic buckles represent Aspen’s recognizable, local style, but they also unite a community of those who love the land and want a piece of local Aspen lore. Says Bates, “Some of our belt buckles are now going on their third generation of daily wear.” The Hayes Studio, 209 E. Bleeker St., 970-319-1697
photography by Jeff Crawford