So what do you get when you mix a lapidary artist, fourteen different jewelry designers and some absolutely gorgeous opals? You get Fire & Forge, a contemporary artisan jewelry show curated by the discerning eye of A Thousand Facets, at Vincents Fine Jewelry in Pelham, New York.
I’ve been friends with Jo, the jewelry blogger behind A Thousand Facets for a few years now, and I can vouch that she has a very keen eye for killer jewels, so I know the show is going to be amazing. She has been working with Loren Gurche, who is a Paleontology and Geology student at the University of Kansas. Although he’s been busy at digs the past 8 years, he has spent the recent years teaching himself lapidary cutting and polishing, among other mineral and fossil pursuits.
Together, Jo, Loren, Vincent (the owner of the jewelry store), and these talented jewelry designers and have collaborated to bring a capsule collection of one-of-a-kind pieces to this show. Jo says, “Vincent and I were excited to partner and celebrate both artisan jewelers as well as Loren Gurches’ opals. Loren’s passion for opals is as deep as the designers’ is of their work. The result will be an incredibly special collection of jewelry that marries the artists’ signature styles with Loren’s stones to create works of wearable art.”
Let me give you a sneak peek at some of the pieces that’ll be available at the show, which opens on November 9th and runs through the end of the year.
Is your interest piqued? That’s what I thought! The event opening is coming up on November 9th from 6-9 pm. If you find yourself in the area the next couple of months, definitely stop by — I guarantee it’ll be worth your time.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I just “click” with people, and I can start chatting with them as if we’ve known each other for years. This was exactly the case when I stopped by Betty Lin (one of my absolute favorite boutiques in San Francisco) for the Gretchen Ventura jewlery trunk show. No joke, within about 10 minutes we were bonding over health issues from our past and laser hair removal! Gretchen’s warm, welcoming personality is the perfect complement to her killer jewlery line. So that you can get to know her and her collection a bit, enjoy this series of questions and answers.
You made the transition from tech to jewelry three years ago. What inspired you to do so?
After a life-altering/threatening illness I gained many insights. One of the strongest was that while I enjoyed and spent my entire professional career in technology (and primarily the use of my left brain), I considered myself an artist. I did not wish to leave this lifetime without using the right side of my brain!
Where do you find the inspiration for your designs?
I find myself in the flow when I am creating my work. My belief system is all about balance, or the middle path, and so I am drawn to the mix of luxe and raw, organic and fine. The work lends itself to a sense of timelessness, with the use of old and patina’d materials, as well as the truth of our interconnectedness. Found objects from far away and ancient times allows me, the creator, as well as the wearer, an experience of a soulful connection to all that came before — what is present and the mystery of what is yet to unfold.
What’s your current favorite piece or two in your collection?
Much of my work is long, languid and layered (like life), but right now I am loving the choker–raw leather with the elegance of a bit of diamond–or the crocodile cuffs with diamond plates on them. Both signify strength, boldness and whimsy.
What is your goal as a jewelry designer with regards to sharing your work with the world?
I struggled a bit when I started designing and creating jewelry, as I really wish to be purposeful in my work. Then, in a seminal moment, truly understood that bringing beauty is a spiritual pursuit (and one of my favorite kundalini teachers used to call me “bringer of beauty” long before this work). When one wears something soulful and beautiful, it elevates one’s experience. When you feel more beautiful and connected to others, you can’t help but bring more kindness, care and love into your world.
What do you find are the biggest challenges and joys as a jewlery designer?
The biggest challenge for me is finding the right manner in which to connect my work with those who may resonate with it — the right stores, an online/social presence, the right markets. Secondly, to create pieces which resonate with me, given the components (ancient talismans or beads, or fine gems such as diamonds), which can be purchased at a price point that works in the market.
The joys are being a part of experiencing someone’s wonder or happiness as they try on a piece and feel beautiful wearing it!!!
When you’re not busy in your studio, how do you spend your free time?
I love to work out, do yoga, try new restaurants, hike, read, travel and see friends!!
#RoughBeauty is the hashtag you’ll find on Variance Objects’ Instagram feed. (Click here to see their images.) It’s the perfect description of this line from Santa Cruz, California, with its semi-raw stones set in oxidized silver and various shades of gold. The juxtaposition of rough and beauty suddenly makes perfect sense when you see the jewelry in person; it’s raw, yet sophisticated. It’s wonderful.
I had the pleasure of meeting Nicole Rimedio, the designer, and her partner, Scott Zankman, who runs the business side of things and takes the stunning photographs of each piece, during their trunk show at Metier in San Francisco.
I’m pleased to share some Q & A I had with Nicole:
I know you have a background in landscape architecture. How and why did you make the career switch to jewelry designer in 2013?
Well, there are at least two ways of looking at it. One is that I realized through being in graduate school and working some in landscape architecture offices that it wasn’t what I wanted to do with my life. The people working there didn’t seem happy or inspired. The other way to see it is that I always wanted to make jewelry, and being involved in what I didn’t want, made me realize what I have always loved doing. How did I make the switch? I just started…
Are you a self-taught jeweler?
Yes, mostly. I’ve taken some courses in metalsmithing but my way of doing metal work is self-taught. I used the skills I learned in these classes, but I sort of deconstructed them. Jewelry making is about order of operations. I just took some of the steps out and added others. I did the same thing with priorities. The teachers taught what was most important in the process; I changed it up some.
I am completely self-taught as a stone cutter. I did watch some youtube videos and talk to people working in rock shops but never took a class. By the time I started cutting stones, I knew how I wanted them to look and how I wanted to do it. I knew my way of cutting would be an alternative.
Has jewelry always been a passion for you?
Yes. Many of my earliest memories involve jewels or stones in some way. As a child, I used to carry stones in my pockets. I really cannot remember a time when jewelry wasn’t of great interest to me. As I already mentioned, I tried to take a more traditional road, but I was miserable. Now I’m not. Ha.
What do you find the biggest challenges and rewards are as a jewelry designer?
The rewards and challenges are really the same thing. As a jeweler and business owner, I feel like Scott and me are on a great adventure together. It’s a wonderful and exciting endeavor. At the same time, there’s so many aspects of it all we don’t have control over. The things we do have the ability to impact, have so many details to them. Variance is our baby; we want to do it right.
You and Scott live in Santa Cruz, CA, which is an area I adore! What’s your favorite:
Restaurant?Probably Bantam but if I really want amazing food, I go to SF. If I want love in my food, then Scott cooks it.
Retail Store?Cameron Marks – easy but sophisticated clothes, great objects and paper goods too. Also, there’s Judi Wyant Antiques. They have a great selection of antique jewelry with a focus on Victorian jewelry and unusual stuff.
Place for a great view (maybe with a cocktail?)I’m a big fan of just sitting on West Cliff Drive and looking out at the ocean.
So are you intrigued now? I bet you are! You can find out more about Variance Objects on their website. Oh, and while I took the photos in this article while at the trunk show, I have to share one of Scott’s professional pictures he recently shared on Instagram–over 5 carats of rose cut diamonds. Deeeee-lish!
Nicole and Scott, it was an absolute pleasure to meet you both and learn about the line!!
My obsession with Nak Armstrong jewelry all started when I tried on this ring at Red Bird in Berkeley last year. (It’s the big one in the center of the stack.) I tried it on mixed with some of my own rings, gazed at it when worn on its own, and I must say that I’ve driven over the Bay Bridge more than once in the time since to visit my oh, so longed-for friend. I kid you not, that if I were to suddenly come into a lot of money, that this would be my absolute first jewelry purchase.
Much to my delight, I was able to meet Nak, the extraordinary designer of this beauty, at a recent trunk show at Barney’s in San Francisco.
Nak’s kind, creative, and open personality makes me like his jewelry all the more. He spent a generous amount of time answering all my questions and giving me a tour of his latest and greatest. The first pair of earring that drew me in are these hoops. The clever design has a right and a left, so that they hang just so.
This Austin-based designer launched his signature line in 2011, though he has been designing since the late 90’s. (You may remember Anthony Nak, which was a line he co-founded.) Every piece is hand fabricated in the USA. The colors of stones he uses are so intriguing to me — they are very nuanced..deep and moody, with incredible depth. Here’s an array in his classic style of bangle.
He also showed me some new bracelets, which are flexible and quite fabulous.
Nak’s jewelry combines the feel of Roman mosaics with Art Deco. He finds joy in imperfections, and sources inspiration from clothing, textiles and architecture. The result is a “tapestry of color,” as he told me. Take a look at these incredible earring designs.
Nak’s wider band rings are perfect worn in stacks. Here’s my friend Jen, wearing two of hers paired with a couple skinnier rings.
You can see the detail in this image of an aquamarine and emerald design.
There were also some daintier rings at the trunk show, and I tried on these.
When not designing jewelry, you can find Nak and his (delightful) partner having Netflix marathons in their recently renovated home. I so enjoyed seeing some photos of their new space, with its clean lines and well-edited decor. Clearly, his creativity spans many avenues.
If you’re interested in seeing more of his work, there are nice selections online at Barney’s, Twist and Ylang 23. Thanks to Nak and Walter for spending so much time with me!
Yes, I must confess that I have a new jewelry crush, and she hails from across the pond. Meet England’s Polly Wales. If you’re not familiar with her line yet, then get prepared, because just 4 years into the fine jewelry business, she’s already making more than a mark for herself! With a background in sculpture and jewelry study at the Royal College of Art, Polly is winning awards and being recognized in both the public eye and among the jewelry industry.
Polly told me her fine jewelry business, which began with a custom wedding ring order, has exploded since she became a mother. In fact, her bridal business has become a much bigger part of things than she ever expected. Well, I could have told her that, after seeing and trying on some of her rings. The first one to catch my eye was this rustic rose-cut diamond band. Never has an eternity band had such presence, with a deeply organic feel. It’s cast-in-place, meaning that the stones go directly into the wax, each one made individually, and then into the metal casting process. This can be very tricky, though, because if the metal doesn’t cast correctly, then the whole thing, including the stones, are lost. Yikes!
And though this ring is technically part of a bridal line, that’s not about to stop me. Look how effortlessly it stacks with other rings. I certainly don’t need to be a bride to sparkle!
This design, with mixed-cut white sapphires, has a distinctly more modern, abstract feel. Though again, that same organic essence ties her whole line together. Polly says her jewelry, “Offers an honest, imperfect beauty that is natural and attainable.” Agreed!
When I inquired as to her current favorite piece, she showed me this thunder beetle diamond ring, which features two large and two smaller rose-cut cloud diamonds. Definitely a unique, whimsical design!
She recently previewed these halo rings at the NY Now show, which are a super-slim version of her beetle rings, along with kite and pyramid-shaped diamonds. The warm color palette in greens and golds is simply sumptuous!
But Polly is not just a ring designer! She has equally amazing options in earrings and necklaces. Here’s a sampling of her disc necklaces, which come in a wide variety of colors and gems.
This rainbow crescent necklace can also be ordered in a single color, or a color combination of your choosing. That’s one of the great things about Polly–she’s a master of custom creation (aka, bespoke). Currently, her pieces are cast in London, but they are moving in-house very shortly. With that move, she’ll now be able to use 100% recycled gold.
This necklace is definitely right up my alley, with its Miner’s cut diamonds and elongated quill design. Oh yes!
What do you think of these multi-colored sapphire earrings? To me they look like a party for your ears, confetti included!
Polly’s effervescent charm is contagious. You can’t help but be happy when in her presence. When I asked her if there was something about her that others didn’t know, she was truly stumped. She finally replied, “I’m just an open book, Amy!” And it’s true. She is the type of person that you instantly feel as if you’ve known for years.
In addition to Polly’s retail site, she also sells in a variety of stores around the globe. (Click here for a full list.) If you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area, you will enjoy seeing her trunk show at Earthworks in Los Altos this coming Saturday, October 4th, from 10am-5:30pm. And let me warn you…you will be tempted, but in the best possible way!
My car is in the shop this week, and one of the gifts of this is that I find myself walking downtown to do my errands. This gave me the ideal opportunity to stop by the Julez Bryant trunk show at Les Deux Copines on Burlingame Avenue yesterday afternoon as I crossed things off my “to do” list. You may remember that I wrote about her line back in 2011 (where does the time go?!), and I was thrilled to see what she’s been working on. While there were a bevy of beautiful baubles to try on, I was especially taken by a few of her bracelets. First is this cuff with a chain closure — such a clever design! She makes it in a variety of widths as well.
I, of course, had to try it on! It was so comfortable to wear, and I love the effect with my mixed metals.
She was wearing a delicate wrap bracelet, and I must say that I thought it was a great combination of the bar necklace and a bracelet. (Can you tell how creative she is?)
Finally, though I’m not necessarily a “heart” gal, I still just loved this take on an ID bracelet. The first photo shows it in rose gold, and the second in yellow.
She will still be showing in Burlingame today from 12-7, so if your jewelry interest is piqued, then definitely stop by the trunk show!
I recently returned from a girl’s weekend in Seattle with my cousin Rachel and my “cousin-to-be” Megan. We had a blast, despite the rainy weather, exploring this beautiful and friendly city. Since they were hanging with me, a professional shopper, I know that they weren’t surprised when I pulled out my page of hand-written notes on all the shops I wanted to visit. And bonus, Megan had a rental car! So off to the Fremont neighborhood we went, which is about a 15 minute drive from downtown Seattle.
One of the shops on my “must see” list was Essenza, which is a unique combination of jewelry, bath/skincare products, sleepwear, and some kid’s items. I knew I liked the store before I entered, which was painted in a pale aqua-blue (my favorite color).
And my thoughts were confirmed as I entered this charming store, with a central fountain surrounded by beautiful cases of jewelry.
I was excited to find a new men’s jewelry line, The Blue Hound. It’s so rare that I see a men’s line represented at a store like this, and I loved it! It was very industrial, and had a great price point. Here’s some bad-ass skull cufflinks and a couple edgy bracelets.
If you’re in the Seattle area this coming week, then it’s the perfect time to stop by the store. They will be hosting an Anne Sportun (oh, how I love her and her line!) trunk show. Here’s the details on the show.
I hope that the next time you’re in Seattle, you’ll make the effort to visit Essenza. I met Wendy, the owner’s sister, and she was just charming. And in a typical small world style, it turns out that she used to live in the San Francisco Bay Area and knew tons of people in common with my cousin. Go figure! I love how the universe keeps connecting us all in that special way.
Quite a few years ago, I ripped out this page from a magazine, and it has lived in my “style file” ever since. The article was about Amber Valetta, and I was just obsessed with the jewelry she was wearing!
The object of my desire was a pile of expertly layered necklaces by Irit Design. As the years passed, I was always on the lookout for her line — I wanted to see it in person! Well luck would have it that Neiman Marcus in San Francisco started carrying it, and I was in the store recently when she was having a personal appearance and trunk show. Lucky me!
This Malibu-based designer was just as lovely as her line. She took the time to really show me (and my client, Karen) her new pieces, and we spent over an hour trying everything on! Here’s Karen modeling her snake handcuff. It’s so unique and edgy! It’s nicely complemented with the chevron knuckle ring.
All of her jewelry is hand made in Los Angeles. She uses recycled sterling, conflict-free diamonds, and Tahitian pearls. And let me tell you, the designs rock! Here I am trying on a stack of her bracelets.
For a more all-out diamond look, these earrings, called “bubbles,” are quite tremendous.
Celebrity clients range from Sandra Bullock to Halle Berry. Even the First Lady, Michelle Obama, is a fan. Here she is looking quite smashing in Irit Design!
Not only is Irit a talented designer, but I learned that she is incredibly charitable as well. “Dogs are my favorite thing in life,” she told me, and she is very active in animal rescue charities. Love that about her. Irit’s line is available in various states around the country and online. Click here for a list of stockists.
I’ve been following The Woods Fine Jewelry for quite some time now, though I’ve only seen a few of their pieces in person at Carrots, one of my fave SF boutiques. When I saw that the two sisters, Shawn and Sam, would be doing a personal appearance and trunk show at Carrots the day after I got home from 3 weeks of travel, game on! I battled major traffic and a parking dilemma, but it was well worth the effort.
The two sisters, based in Denver and Aspen, launched their line about 7 years ago. When I inquired how they co-design while being in two different cities, they told me that they are really each on their own design path. How interesting! But their aesthetic blends perfectly, and their luxe, naturally gorgeous line has really taken off.
Here’s a shot from their website which gives you sort of a feel for their line.
While they have traditionally been known for their beaded pieces, they are now moving more into chains, with a variety of pendants that can be interchanged. Take a look at these gorgeous chains (on my jewelry lust list, for sure!) and this re-claimed deer antler with inlaid diamonds. Seriously, this pendant was the size of my hand!!
Here’s another stunning enhancer, which would look fabulous on a variety of chains.
I tried on a stone arrowhead pendant, surrounded by diamonds, on a pyrite bead chain. Can I say l-o-v-e? Fab on it’s own, or easily layered with other necklaces.
This trunk show was the first time I’ve tried on some of their rings. I think the design on this articulated cross ring is fantastic.
Here’s a shot of me wearing another of their rings, along with a diamond bracelet with a resin horn. Oo la la!
This line really is a natural, organic way to rock some diamonds. Do you think it would meld with your personal style? If so, check them out!
Sisters Pratima and Prerna Sethi have jewelry in their blood. With a father in the jewelry business, backgrounds in fashion, and both with a love of all things beautiful, it was natural that they founded their jewelry company, Sethi Couture, in 2009.
I’ve been a fan of this line for quite a while, yet I’d never met them in person, even though they are based here in the SF Bay Area! It took being all the way in Vegas at the Couture show for our first meeting. About a year ago I helped a client select a new wedding set. We came up with this stack of Sethi Couture rings. The unique color combination, the versatility of wearing one, two or all three rings at once, and the blackened metals really sung to my client’s heart.
In fact, I think their diamond stacking rings are genius. They come in such a range of beautiful colors, and they can add so much when combined with other rings. They were created for “women to easily wear and stack …for effortless elegance.” I’ve got a brown diamond one on my jewelry wish list…
Here’s a ring from their enchanted garden collection — perfect on its own, or stacked with one of their diamond bands. It’s made of 18K white gold with black rhodium, white diamonds and burnt orange diamond accents.
While their line is only a few years old, it’s gaining a huge celebrity following, from Halle Berry to Reese Witherspoon. Here’s Jennifer Lawrence rocking a pair of their stunning earrings!
I think these white rose cut diamond inverted drop earrings are a beautiful design, with green diamonds set in 18K white gold. They were inspired by the rich colors of peacock feathers. As Prerna described to me, “Ours is a contemporary line with an old world aesthetic.” I think that’s the perfect description.
Each sister has different perspectives to contribute to the designs. Prerna loves the architectural details, while Pratima adores feminine, lacy designs. Prerna said that she enjoys “buliding the architecture around these amazing natural stones.” Case in point is this modern chandelier earring, with an exquisite ombre effect, created from cognac, champagne and orange diamonds.
If you’d like to see them and their line in person, then head to Gallery Of Jewels in Union Square on Saturday, July 13. They have a personal appearance from 11-7 during their Endless Love event. You might just find the perfect piece to add some color to your jewelry box!