I just adore visiting For Future Reference’s booth at the Couture show, as they represent some of the most amazing jewelry designers — creative, colorful, and lines that are often outside the proverbial box; no run of the mill designs seen here! Case in point was seeing Brent Neale’s line for the first time. The designer, Brent Winston, is a true ray of sunshine and she perfectly translates this joy and effervescence to her jewelry line.
Case in point — have you ever though about wearing a gemmy magic mushroom around your neck? Well I hadn’t either until I saw them in person and then fell in love with this bright green one she posted on Instagram recently.
Please enjoy this Q&A with Brent:
I know you worked in the jewelry world for many years before starting your own line in 2017. What prompted you to take the leap?
I left Kara Ross in 2015 because of a high risk pregnancy with twins, including a long stint on bed rest. It was a tough year for me. The girls were very early and they spent two months in the NiCU where I basically lived as well. A year after they were born my husband and friends urged me to start drawing and working again. I’m so glad they did, because I really needed to feel like myself again. I started sketching everything and it came pouring out of me. Jewelry is something I truly love and it’s part of my personal identity, so it was natural. That first collection was called “After the Rain”: a reminder that something good and beautiful always follows something bad.
Your line is so whimsical and colorful — it always makes me smile when I see your work. What’s your inspiration for your unique aesthetic?
Life is hard, and everyone has their stuff, you know? But jewelry should be fun and happy and that’s a goal of mine for the line. It should make you feel good! (btw — I totally agree, Brent!)
Tell me a little more about your cool door necklaces.
The doors came about through my travels — each door represents a different place. The Malachite door is Rome, the Lapis is Paris, Turquoise with the honeysuckle and hummingbird took inspiration from the Bahamas, and so forth. But more than just visually, the collection was called “Passageways” and it was about creating the path and choosing the doors you want in life.
What sort of woman do you envision wearing your jewelry?
I think the women that buy my jewelry want something a bit different and a bit out of the box. I particularly love that the women range in age and they are wearing it for all occasions, as everyday pieces and for black tie!
What do you find is the most rewarding thing about being a jewelry designer?
When I get an note or an email or a DM from a client saying how much they love a piece. If someone derives some joy out of something I’ve made, then I’m definitely doing something right.
Anything you can share about what you have in store for your line in 2019?
Loads of color, texture and fun ✨✨✨
I am SO not surprised to hear this, Brent. I’d expect nothing less, and I cannot wait to see what you have in store for us. If you’d like to see more of Brent’s work, click here for a list of retailers and definitely follow her on Instagram for an insider’s look at what she’s up to. It’s sure to bring a smile to your day.
I vividly recall when I was scrolling through my Instagram feed, and a carved rock crystal and gold bracelet stopped me in my tracks. Was it an antiquity from some museum collection? Was it a newly created piece? I honestly couldn’t tell, so I had to investigate…and that led me right to Loren Nicole Jewelry. Loren Teetelli, the designer behind the collection, was going to be making an appearance at the Couture show in Las Vegas. Meeting her and seeing her work was at the top of my list!
Not only is her jewelry simply stunning with it’s ancient feel, but Loren is a veritable font of information. With her extensive background in art history and anthropology, combined with her talent as a goldsmith, she has created a singular line rife with history. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the following interview with Nicole.
After seeing your work, I was SO not surprised to learn you have a background in archaeology. Can you please share how this prepared you for your career as a jewelry designer?
I have degrees in art history and anthropology, with a focus in archaeology, one of the 4 branches of anthropology. I have had a lot of practical experience as an archaeologist, having worked as a field archaeologist in Peru, Mexico and Vermont, and as a lab technician in the North American Archaeology Lab in the Anthropology Department of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City (it’s a mouthful). I later worked as a conservator in the Objects Conservation Lab at the American Museum of Natural History and Conservation Lab in Africa Oceana and the Americas department at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Art history has provided me the advantage of an extensive depth of knowledge of civilizations throughout history focused on many mediums, while archaeology trained me to think about the material culture, both art and domestic objects, from a practical viewpoint. Studying both disciplines has allowed me to recognize pattern, to the point where I can look at a selection of mixed objects and at the very least divide them up geographically. Aside from my academic interests, I have always been drawn to craft. I have been painting and illustrating for as long as I can recall and have studied pottery, weaving, glass blowing, printmaking and so on. My natural inclination towards making tied into my archaeological interest because it’s all about the objects we made and left behind. Understanding how they were constructed, the technology used to make them, the sources for their materials (trade), and eventually how they were then used.
Now, working as a goldsmith, my interests in understanding the science of an object is the foundation of my design process. Studying and working in the original technologies used to make the pieces I am representing, allows the collection to “feel” ancient. When beginning a new collection, I am fortunate to have a large mental library of different civilizations to pull on. I typically begin with one or a few key visual elements (like the “heart” and oval shapes of the Silla collection), and recognize what technology was used to build those pieces. If the goal is to replicate the feeling of ancient jewelry, it is not possible to do so by only copying the patterns or symbols, it needs to be constructed using the same methods. Since I am currently working on an Egyptian collection, I will give this example; a lot of Egyptian revival jewelry is enamel usually depicting King Tut’s Scarab, the Eye of Horus, etc. While many of these pieces are fun and beautiful in their own right, we understand the reference, but they don’t have the feeling of something that emerged from an ancient Egyptian tomb. They haven’t gotten to the core of ancient Egyptian Jewelry. If instead of enamel, those colors were inlaid stone (cloisonné), then they would be doing something interesting, something more true to the history of the design and using a technique contemporary to the original source.
Is there a certain period in history that most influences your work?
My love for art history lies with anything pre-dating the Northern Baroque period, with a particular interest in civilizations that we refer to as “ancient”, for example, Greek, Egyptian, Scythian (Eurasian Nomadic Peoples), Moche, Chimu, etc. I also love a few outliers, such as Agnes Martin, Axel Vervoordt (not necessarily an artist) and Mark Rothko. I would say that my designs are a combination of these two interests, as is my favorite ancient period. Cycladic art, while having been made as far back as 5000 years ago, is so contemporary in its design. Civilizations of archaeology are in my heart. There is so much mystery still surrounding them and there is always a scavenger hunt when discovering a new piece. These civilizations worked in 22k yellow gold, my preferred medium, and the technologies I have studied from them, such as granulation and chasing and repousse, are my favorite to work in. I love jewelry where you can see the hand of its creator — it is more warm for me than something that has been machined using electric steel tools. That being said, there is a power in minimalism and being able to convey an emotion with as few elements as possible. Agnes Martin has been my greatest teacher of this. Applying what I have learned from studying her work to my jewelry design by taking the time to edit out what is unnecessary, while still retaining the core feeling of the civilization I am representing, has been the greatest challenge and most rewarding. While I am replicating the past, I am not creating replicas.
I am a huge fan of the pieces I saw from your new Silla Collection. Can you please tell me a bit about this collection?
I first discovered the Silla while working at the MET. They hosted a temporary exhibit of their work primarily showing pottery and jewelry. I have always been fascinated by trade in the ancient world, because in the structure that we are taught, we usually don’t think of these ancient civilizations trading, learning and adopting practices from each other. What originally struck me was the quality and large scale of their granulation, a technique that originated with the Etruscans in present day Sicily and made its way across the Silk Road with the Greeks stationed in Bactria and then spreading to India and further east, where it is still practiced. When approaching this lesser known civilization to develop a collection, I resisted the instinct to include granulation because that is something that was learned, I needed to identify what was unique to them and their history.
There were two elements that stood out; the application of gold discs and key shapes, such as the oval, “heart” and trapezoid. There were two key jewelry styles that needed to be represented to honor their history as nomadic peoples, the belt and the crown. Several belts in a style similar to our Nomad Belt were discovered in burials, adorned with charms representing both domestic and spiritual purposes. For example, the cut-out piece is a scissor and the fish may have been an amulet to avert evil. The belt is also a nod to this civilization’s history as nomadic peoples, where wealth needed to be portable and rank needed to be easily identifiable. Since there has has been so much interest in the fish, it is actually a personal joke, my version of uniting the ends of the Silk Road. I took the Silla design for a fish and married it with the idea of Rock Crystal fish that the Ancient Greeks occasionally made and then suspended them all from a modified Ancient Greek woven chain (present-day). I still can’t believe this is the most popular piece from June, it was the only design I was super unsure of. Both this necklace and the belt are available at Stanley Korshak.
I’m completely obsessed with all the charms you make. How do you envision clients styling them?
It is a joyful part of our collection that encourages interaction. People love color! Few people don’t love rummaging through a pile of candy-like gems and arranging their favorites to carry with them everyday. We can change them with our mood, layer them up, put them on different chains. They are so versatile. There is something for everyone. It is all about wearing layers of color stories that are meaningful to the wearer. I personally like to wear 5 on long leather cord and change the color story with the seasons.
They were designed to be a fun way to incorporate color and offer a more accessible entry point into my collection. What I had hoped and what my clients are doing is starting with one or two pieces and slowly adding more to their set, typically wearing them all together. They fit on all of our necklaces, most of our bracelets and new leather cords that will be released soon. All of our charms are either cabochons or carved stones that have been ethically sourced and are set in our signature 22k yellow gold brushed finish (We use recycled and Fairmined gold), so they inherently have that ancient look to it, but I choose more playful colors to make it modern. They have also been a really fun education point between me and my clients. It is opportunity to share a deeper story about the history of a gem, its origin, what gives it is color, who cut it and the amazing history of Idar Oberstein represented in our carved gems.
What sort of woman do you see wearing your jewelry?
Be it young or more mature, the woman that purchases my jewelry is a collector. She loves art and history. She is not interested in trends. She is confident in her own style and has her own criteria for recognizing quality of craftsmanship.
What do you find is the most rewarding aspect(s) of being a jewelry designer?
I have been given the opportunity to share my love of ancient history with people that may not necessarily have been exposed to it or haven’t previously shown an interest in it. I absolutely love when I have opportunity to speak with men, whether they are shopping for themselves or their significant other, because I have found that they are typically interested in the science/more geeky specifics of my jewelry, which gets them excited and offers a connection to jewelry that they don’t always have available. The women tend to be more perceptive to the aesthetics and art history of the piece. If they connect with that aesthetic, they get it immediately. What is universal, is when people discover my chains and once they learn that many of them have been made for over 3000 years and then can find them on display at world renowned museums, they are immediately hooked. Then they feel the weight of a solid gold chain, usually for the first time, and they see how it moves and suddenly they discover a new relationship towards jewelry. It is so much fun to watch that moment in a person’s face transform from a slight interest into complete wonder. I also really love when my jewelry is mistaken for an antique. I feel like I have done my job as a designer and a goldsmith when that occurs.
Can you share one of your most recent pieces?
I am currently working on our new collection, Nebu, which will launch at Couture next summer. Nebu is the the ancient Egyptian word for gold. They are the only civilization I am aware of that believed gold had divine power. They had over 30 types of gold, which is amazing considering how rudimentary their tools were. I am finally going to be showing off my skills as a goldsmith with this collection. There will be a lot of granulation and chasing and repousse.
Here is a photo of a chaising and repousse crocodile cuff bracelet that is currently on my bench.
And here’s an oversized hoop that was completed last week. The hoop has a small granulation halo around the Mandarin Garnet with Cats Eye Pink Tourmaline and Morganite (one from Brazil and the other from Mozambique) decorating the bottom edge. The design originated from an Egyptian wall painting. I have yet to discover a jewelry example of this design; however, that doesn’t mean that it was not used. With some of the earliest styles, there aren’t always actual objects discovered representing what was depicted. I have another one-of-a-kind version of this hoop on the bench next week!
On that note, I want to thank Loren for all the incredible information. I cannot WAIT to see the Nebu collection in Las Vegas next year!! You can check out more of Loren’s work on her website and Instagram.
Enjoy this article from guest blogger, Jennifer Bressie. I certainly see a theme among her picks, do you?
Every May/June, when I attend the Couture show with Amy, after drooling over all of the jewels, I come up with my lust list, which is the list of pieces that would actually fit into my lifestyle and wardrobe. I have determined there are five main reasons to buy me jewelry throughout the year. First comes my birthday in February. (This year I’ll be turning fifty which means I think I deserve a pretty exceptional piece!) This is quickly followed by Valentine’s Day, then Mother’s Day, our anniversary is in August, and finally Christmas. Here’s what I can’t stop dreaming about from this past show.
These earrings from Dana Bromfman were one of the first things we stumbled upon this year. Made of 18k gold, rutilated quartz and diamonds, these earrings can easily be worn with jeans and a t-shirt or a ball gown!
I am totally obsessed with these earrings from TAP by Todd Pownell. I think they are such cool and fresh take on the standard diamond hoop. These stunners consist of over 11 carats of marquis cut diamonds set on 14k white gold and sheet backed with 18k yellow gold. They sparkle like crazy!
The next piece, the Devi Ring from ARK Fine Jewelry, is so special. Made of 18k yellow gold, white mother of pearl, moonstone and diamonds, the ring is inspired by ancient Tantric Goddess temples. Each piece in this line, with the initials of designer Ann Korman and a reference to protection, safety and constant forward movement, has thoughtful meaning. The moonstones in the Devi Ring run north and south and symbolize intelligence, energy and inertia; the mother of pearl helps the wearer feel centered. If you are not familiar with this line, I highly recommend taking a trip over to her website where you will not only be tempted by the beauty of the pieces, but you will be inspired by the beautiful meaning and energy infused within.
I went crazy for this pearl necklace from Lene Vibe! The South Sea pearls, combined with the 18k gold and the intricate details make for a spectacular piece! I would also dress this necklace up or down.
The last piece is a small obsession of mine. Full disclosure, I encouraged my husband to purchase this for me for our recent anniversary! It’s a gorgeous Grandfather Compass from Retrouvai made of rose gold, pink opal, pink lotus garnet and diamond. In a note from designer Kirsty Stone she wrote, “Wear this pendant as a reminder to let your intuition guide you as your inner compass.” I absolutely adore this necklace and wear it all the time.
One of my favorite things about attending the show is meeting the amazingly talented designers and hearing their stories — how their life and experience influences their designs makes each piece so unique, and I feel a real connection to them when I eventually do make a purchase!
I think I first fell in love with fringe back in grade school, when one of my dance recital costumes had red fringe all around the skirt. I would just twirl and shake to see it dance in my bedroom mirror. What really drew me in was the movement; it was mesmerizing. This feeling is translated in a plethora of fringe earrings this season. You really get the full effect of the fringe in the form of an earring, as it sways with each movement of your head. (unlike in a necklace, where it can be a more static look, but still lovely) I’ve gathered up nine different designs to share with you. The first I got to see in person at the Sorellina booth at Couture. So fun!
You can see there’s a real range out there, from minimalist to ornate, kitschy to modern, and varying in scale. Do any of them strike your fancy? Do you have any fringe in your jewelry box? I’d love to hear from you in the comment section below.
As is often the case, I first came across the intriguing designs of New York-based jewelry designer, Page Sargisson, on Instagram. I was at once taken by the texture of the gold, and the wearability of this fine jewelry line. I could easily envision wearing it every day and then dressing it up for a special occasion. I was so thrilled to finally meet her in person at the Couture show in Las Vegas. I hope you enjoy learning more about the line from Page herself.
Can you tell me a bit about how you transitioned from a corporate job to jewelry making?
I grew up always making things – knitting my dolls clothes, wood carving with my grandfather and I’ve always made jewelry. After college I worked in corporate communications at a biotech company and at night I’d craft or make jewelry. People at my company started asking if they could buy the necklaces that I made, and before I knew it, I had a full-on side business. Sometimes I felt like a drug dealer when people would come into my office and I’d open my desk drawer full of necklaces. I ended up taking classes in wax carving and metalsmithing, and the wax carving brought me back to working in my grandfather’s basement studio carving ducks and dovetailed boxes.
The aesthetic of your line is so unique. How would you describe it to someone seeing your work for the first time?
I want the end customer to think of the person who created the piece. I think of my file marks as brushstrokes in a painting – it gives a connection to the process of making the piece that you’re wearing. It is raw and rough – it’s not everyone’s aesthetic but it makes the sapphires a little more casual, which I think allows people to wear it everyday. I wouldn’t wear a traditional round, brilliant cut sapphire ring set in gold prongs everyday, but I do wear my rose cut sapphire bands set in 18KT gold everyday with jeans or a dress.
I know being a jeweler with ethically sourced materials is important to you. Would you please you elaborate on this?
I make a lot of engagement rings using old Euro and old mine cut diamonds – my clientele seems to respond to the idea that it was mined ages ago rather than recently. I also re-do a lot of client’s inherited jewelry. It’s so sad how much jewelry just sits in a safe. Change it, melt the old gold and re-make for your style. It’s just another way of recycling.
Do you have a favorite piece or two in your collection?
I have been wearing this signet ring on my pinky for a year now – I get so many compliments on it. It’s basically a new take on a classic.
And then I’ve really been loving these opal and ruby earrings.
What do you like best about being a jeweler? And biggest challenge?
I love creating pieces, I love working at the bench – I could be there all night carving (and sometimes I am!). The longer I’m in business, the more I realize that I’m more of an artist than a business person. I’m more excited about creating a piece that I love than hitting a sales target. And that would also be my challenge; it’s really hard to run a small business. I have to deal with accounting, inventory management and everything else while also creating pieces that I love but will also sell. It’s really hard!
Page, thank you so much for your time and insight into your luxe jewelry collection. I cannot wait to see what you’re up to next!
I’ve been a fan of Elie Top long before he launched his own collection in 2015. Before that, he designed the jewelry for Lanvin, under Alber Elbaz. Countless pieces from the runway shows made it onto my “I want it!” list. Elie designed for Lanvin for 15 years, after working with Loulou de la Falaise at Yves Saint Laurent. Talk about a pedigree! Though he originally thought he’d be a wardrobe designer, I couldn’t be more thrilled that his path led him down the road to jewelry.
Elie is a truly unique designer, seemingly with the mind of a mechanical engineer and architect with the soul of an artist. Only one with this combination of talents could produce a ring like this…
A still image doesn’t do the complexity of its design justice, so while at the Couture show in Vegas, I took this short video showing how the ring moves and changes, revealing as little or as much as the wearer chooses to show.
This is one of the clever aspects of Elie’s jewelry; things flip, turn, and morph. With one piece of jewelry, you can either be showing bling or toning it down with just metal. Elie has three different collections. The first one he launched is the Mecaniques Celestes, which draws inspiration from astronomical tools from centuries ago. One can see his love of Baroque as well as architectural elements in his work. I was completely mesmerized when I tried on this Aqualung Cuff, with distressed silver, gold, and diamonds.
I would wear the heck out of this necklace, also part of the same collection. I took a couple photos, so you can see it both open, revealing the inner workings of the pendant, and closed, which shows the distressed silver and gold. If you wore it this way, it would be like wearing a special secret around your neck. While speaking with Elie about his inspirations, he told me, with a grin and a glint in his eye, that the little sugar pots at the cafes in Paris helped with his design. I love that little nugget! It will give me all new appreciation when I’m in a cafe in Paris this summer.
The Cosmogonie Secrete is another of the three collections, otherwise known as Cosmo Element. One of my favorite things in this group are the rings, which flip to show two different stories. Here’s the two sides of two of these rings. On one side, you get your element (earth, water, etc.), and on the other side, your astrological symbol. This is most definitely not your average take on a signet ring!
I couldn’t help but snap a photo of the necklace that Elie’s sales and operations manager, Jehanne, was wearing. Talk about a statement necklace!
Another showstopper necklace is this one, from the Mecanique Celeste collection, crafted from ebony with amethyst, lapis, turquoise and diamonds. Once again, you can flip the components to show the jewels or keep it a little more discreet.
Elie’s Etoile Mysterious is his third collection, which has such a powerful vibe! It’s the ideal intersection of a futuristic look with nods to the past.
I could have stayed in Elie’s booth for hours, investigating the intricacies of each piece. Thanks to Elie and Jehanne for all your time and education!
I was enjoying the opening night party at the Couture show in Las Vegas — sipping my cocktail while sitting on a poolside tuffet, and I caught a glimpse of something quite fabulous out of the corner of my eye. Hopping up to inspect more closely, I met Sefik Kabas, the designer of Taru Jewelry, who was donning one of his own designs. I made a point to visit this Istanbul-based designer in the showroom the next day to see more of his work.
Sefik gave me a tour of his collection and answered some questions for me.
Your artistic background has included jewelry, glass blowing, interior design, and more. How did you end up launching your own jewelry line, Taru Jewelry, in 2015?
I studied fine arts majoring in sculpture and glass blowing. I designed and produced furniture with bronze sculptural details from ancient civilizations.
Jewelry was our family business from 1976 till 1990. I spent a lot of time in our jewelry workshop during those times. Going back to the roots, in 2015 I decided to get back to jewelry design and created the Taru brand.
Your line is full of brilliant animals — how do you select which ones to focus on?
I have an interest in archeology. I focus on the animals of power with mythical symbols.
I was just amazed by the Queen Bee necklace at Couture, and you told me that it took three and a half months to make. What was the driving force behind this piece?
I wanted to create a one of a kind queen bee showpiece — all handmade, everything made from scratch. Not starting with a drawing, but working freestyle. I also wanted to show the movements of the bees as in real life.
Can you share a recent creation with us, and tell us a bit about it?
My recent creation is the ceremonial horse bracelet for women. The earliest archaeological evidence for the domestication of the horse dates back to approximately 3500 BC. The mythologies of many cultures include references to horses. Horses were used to preserve cultural traditions and for ceremonial purposes to convey royalty. I created this ceremonial horse with a gold chamfron decorated with precious stones.
Who do you see as the Taru customer?
My customer is looking for uniqueness — one who appreciates handwork and wants to wear bold statement jewelry with a story. The Taru customer is both men and women.
For an amazing look at Sefik’s work, take a minute to watch this beautiful video:
I’m so happy to have met Sefik at the show and see his line, full of extraordinary detail and archeological flavor.
There was a lot of buzz on the show floor about Adam Foster this year. It was the first time this St. Louis jewelry designer was showing at the Couture Show, and as soon as I saw the jewelry in his cases, I knew what the buzz was all about! As a graduate in metalsmithing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Adam started his business from scratch about 15 years ago. He began by making bespoke pieces for private clients. This bespoke collection is one of this three aesthetics in his line. (We’ll get to the other two in a bit.)
I was honestly blown away by the craftsmanship, the attention to detail, and the use of stones in his work. The first ring I want to show you is this one, featuring reverse carved mother of pearl. Have you ever seen anything like it? It’s simply mesmerizing.
The comment in my notebook about this 32 carat sugarloaf moonstone ring is, “Holy shit!” I think that about sums it up.
I felt like royalty when I put on this one…
Surely the person who dons this panther brooch crafted from hand carved obsidian and bedecked with white and black diamonds will be making a personal style statement!
Take note of the feather headdress the panther is wearing. Feathers are in fact the inspiration for “Plume,” another of Adam’s three aesthetics. Spending time in the country on weekends and going pheasant hunting in the winter inspired Adam to create very unique pieces with this motif. He was wearing a fab feather brooch when I met him at the show.
The feather detail on this ring, all hand crafted, takes the piece to a whole new level.
The third aesthetic in Adam’s line is “Constellation,” and it’s in this group that I found something I’d love to have in my personal jewelry collection. Inspired by the ceilings in Italy, Adam translates the celestial heavens into wearable art. I’m pretty obsessed with these Constellation bracelets.
This behind the scenes look at the making of a piece in this collection really gives you an appreciation of the meticulous work that goes into each piece. I think it’s awesome that everything from design to manufacturing all takes place at the same address.
This Constellation band would certainly add some pizazz to one’s jewelry collection. Would you wear it on its own or perhaps stack another band or two with it?
I’m so excited to have met Adam and gotten a first-hand look at his unique line. Take note, readers, as this is a name that you’re going to be hearing more of — I just know it!
Not only is it wonderful seeing jewelry designers I know when I go to the Couture show, but I’m always invigorated by meeting designers for the first time and seeing their work in person. Daria de Koning was one of those designers I had on my short list. Her use of color is wonderful, and she definitely is a queen of cabochons, which happens to be one of my favorite cuts. As typically happens at the show, I’m exposed to stones I’ve never heard of before. Yes, I learned some new ones at Daria’s booth! Let’s dive into some Q&A with this talented designer.
You have a background in painting as well as jewlery, right? How does painting influence your work?
Originally I went to art school thinking I would major in painting (derailed and became a graphic design/visual communications major). Graphics really helped train my eye and painting is similar to what I’m doing now — I’m just working with “hard” color in gemstones, versus fluids like watercolors or pastels. But I’m still working to create good compositions with the flow that a good painting magically creates. It just happens to be smaller and 3-D.
How does your jewelry making process work — sketch an idea first? Find the stones first? Something else?
It depends on the piece. I’ll make loose sketches sometimes, but a lot of the time I’ll build designs with stones and then go right to creating the 3-D piece…
I saw so many amazing pieces at the Couture show. Can you please share a couple of your current faves with us?
Oh jeez…there’s nothing better than having one of my “thoughts” become 3-D and real…but that tends to mean I’m most excited about whatever I’ve just finished. ha ha. I’m really stoked with my star crossed lovers bracelet. I’m starting to go down a path of working with negative and positive spaces while still incorporating my cluster cabochons. The malachite necklace is pretty baller and really packs a punch.
And, it wasn’t at Couture because I couldn’t finish it in time, but there’s this emerald ring that is fabulous.
I can only imagine how difficult it must be to create something so unique and beautiful and then let it go. Have you kept any particular piece for yourself?
I do get attached to my pieces. Each one is so special and I know that I’ll never be able to recreate it, so sometimes it’s really hard to let go. But I’d be a terrible business woman if I kept them all. It’s easier when I can sell directly to a private client since I know a piece will go to a happy home. Sending it out to stores is so much harder! Funnily enough, I don’t really own much of my own jewelry. I have some prototypes I’ve built and also I’ve kept maybe four pieces that I love to wear (and are easy to wear) from earlier collections.
What are the most challenging and most rewarding aspects of being a jewelry designer?
Overall it’s very rewarding. I love making jewelry, playing with pretty things, making something unique and special. As an artist, I love the whole process of a piece from conception to creation and the final. It’s so satisfying!
The most challenging aspect is the financial scenario of remaining independent (which I am — I built my business piece by piece) yet having to be the bank for everyone until something sells. This impacts everything in my business, ranging from holding me up from creating something new because I can’t buy stones, to impeding marketing plans like photoshoots, etc. From a creative point, the most challenging would be waiting for those perfect stones to “find” each other. Sometimes I’ll hold onto a gem that caught my eye for years before it can be made into that special something.
I’m embarking on a big solo adventure this summer. Being the jewelry-a-holic that I am, as soon as I booked my flight, I started planning my jewelry wardrobe before anything else. I was browsing the Ylang 23 website (I’d hate to admit how many hours I’ve spent window shopping on this site!), when I came across this “dream” charm from Foundrae. I got tears in my eyes as I read the symbolism of the piece, “The divine triangle is associated with pyramids, arrowheads & sacred mountains. It represents the journey of self-discovery, revelation and ascension. The arrow represents powerfully launching forward and the star provides energy and divine guidance.” There it was — the perfect talisman for my adventure.
Since receiving it, I’ve been playing around with how to wear it. First, I tried it on my Marla Aaron bracelet.
But let’s get back to Foundrae, the jewelry brand launched just a year and a half ago by Beth Bugdaycay and her husband, Murat. It was the first day of the Couture show, I walked down the middle aisle, and there was Beth — my very first stop! And no, I didn’t plan it that way. Just kismet. Yay! I introduced myself, and once again I got a bit teary telling her why I bought her charm. I felt an instant connection with Beth, which of course makes me love the line even more.
I had the opportunity to ask Beth some questions about her jewelry, and here’s what she had to say.
I’m fascinated by your transition from the fashion world to the world of jewelry. What prompted this shift?
I wanted to do something more personal to me-jewelry was natural for me because I have always defined my personal style by jewelry.
How did you come up with the symbols for your original collections?
We came up with the symbols first, before we designed any of the jewelry itself. We refer internally to the symbols as “the Foundrae lexicon” and we still haven’t used all of them yet! They are symbols that I consider “found” from different cultures, different eras, and then I mixed them together. All of them were symbols that I was already familiar with and wrote down from memory.
At the show, you debuted your new collections: Passion, True Love and Resilience. Can you share a little bit about these?
They are all chapters of our With Every Breath collection. Where the Core Collection is about self-recognition and self-discovery, this second collection, With Every Breath, is about creating beauty in our lives by following our hearts. It celebrates the connections we make and the possibilities we create when we not only discover our passions, but find the confidence to embrace them fully and without apology.
And yet in this collection is also the recognition that it is also a perilous journey, one whose joy is often punctuated by vulnerability, darkness, and doubt. But it is this duality, these extreme highs and lows, that make life not only worth living, but meaningful and beautiful.
The materials in With Every Breath reflect this twinned darkness and light, with a moody, intense palette—black, bordeaux and blush champlevé enamel—and a vocabulary of powerful iconography inspired by fantasies and ancient mythology: just-bloomed flowers, crossed arrows, wings, and thorns.
The surrender to passion is not a single moment; it is a lifelong process, with steps forward and back. These pieces are meant to be your companions on your journey, and even, to encourage you to move forward when the path seems most daunting. A life lived in pursuit of your dreams is never easy…but then, nothing rewarding ever is. The phrases that repeat themselves across the collection—If not now, then when?; With every Breath—are reminders of this most challenging and thrilling journey of the heart.
WITH EVERY BREATH chapters and symbols: Passion
Crossed arrows: Two individual arrows, cross to form a new whole. A union of friendship, of love, that didn’t exist separately.
Wings: Unbridled exuberance. With wings we are creatures of the limitless skies; with wings, we can climb as high as our dreams allow.
True Lovers knot (also known as Bowen’s knot): represents the connectivity of true love
Spark: It just takes a spark to begin a lifelong journey
Thorn: the risk we assume when we try for something we love. You can’t separate the thorn from the blossom.
Dark Blossoms: Blossoms bloom even in darkness. Resilience.
I love the horseshoe ring I tried on at the show. Can you tell me about the symbolism of this piece? I know it’s part of your Abundance chapter
We haven’t fully shown this chapter yet. The horseshoe ring and necklace were sneak peaks. The horseshoe is for abundance. We don’t need luck. It’s about gratitude and recognizing the abundant lives we already lead; it’s filled with diamond flowers.
Diamond Flowers: Wild, abundant, and untamed, these flowers are fed with passion
Do you have certain pieces of jewelry that you wear everyday?
For about the last year and a half I’ve worn the strength cigar band on my right pinkie plus a thin band and a gold vintage signet. On my left hand I’ve worn a gold signet with a “B” that says “light and divine guidance,” my diamond eternity vintage wedding band, a dream wide band, a blue thin band w/ my kids names on it, and I recently added the diamond baguette “if not now then when” band and 2 black “with every breath” thin bands.
On my neck, I wear the 15” extended clip necklace with a large 28mm initial medallion as my base. Then I add different medallions to it, usually protection, dream, and then a few initials in champleve enamel or diamond flowers. I’ve kept the same base for over a year but change the medallions.
On my left ear I wear a pair of petite orbit earrings on the 1st and 3rd holes, then in the middle a diamond(esque) thorn earring — I’m pretty sure it’s costume or silver, I can’t remember but I’ve had it for years. (It’s a different shape thorn than the one we just made-it’s like the thorn on a rose stem) My right ear I tend to change daily — either a bunch of small earrings or a few hoops in a variety of sizes.
What would be your dream for your line in the next 5 years?
I want to build a business that can offer good benefits and salaries to the team.
From this inside look into the line, you can see that this really is a jewelry collection rife with meaning and symbolism. Through the pieces you choose, you are showing your own life, dreams and passions via jewlery. I absolutely love it…even moreso now that I’ve met Beth in person and felt the energy she radiates. Beth, thank you for your time, knowledge and creativity!