If you’ve been following me here on the blog or on social media for some time, you know that I’m a huge fan of Bay Area designer, Lauren Wolf. I can’t recall where I first met her, but through visits to Esqueleto (her fab store in Oakland), seeing her at various trade shows, and at local WJA events (Women’s Jewelry Association), I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know her.
I find my love of her jewelry has increased as time goes by; seeing a designer’s passion for their craft somehow increases its attraction. She began by studying silversmithing in San Miguel, Mexico, at the Sterling Quest School. She then went on to get her degree from FIT in New York City, and from how she describes it, she hasn’t looked back since!
Lauren absolutely LOVES diamond buying, where she hand picks all of her stones. She treasures her long-standing relationships with her vendors. All of her jewelry is designed and made in house in the east bay. Nice, right?
I have shared this particular three stone diamond ring before, but I must admit, to this day it is my most coveted piece of hers. The color combination, the weight of it on my hand…I’ve actually dreamt about this ring! Perhaps one day…
She has countless options in the three stone category, which I happen to find very chic. On my last visit to the store, I tried on this lovely, with dark grey diamonds. While this certainly can fall into the alternative bridal category, I think it’s equally wearable as a right hand ring, don’t you? She is a queen of unconventional diamond rings, that’s for sure.
Just recently, she posted these diamond eternity bands on her Instagram page. I honestly cannot decide which color is my favorite. What about you? Light grey? Champagne? Or dark grey?
Another show-stopper from Lauren is this six-diamond star ring. It has a cosmic vibe fit for an urban princess.
I also have to mention that Lauren makes a variety of stud earrings, which are ever-so-useful in ones jewelry box. I bought this tourmalinated quartz pair a few years back, and they are featured heavily in my earring rotation.
I am SO looking forward to visiting Lauren’s booth in Las Vegas at the end of the month to see all the latest and greatest creations! If you’d like to check out more of her line, you can visit one of her stores (Oakland and Los Angeles) or enjoy a cocktail and peruse her online shop while sitting in the comfort of your own home. (You can see what I do with my free time!) She’s also carried at a variety of retailers across the country.
I became a BIG fan of TAP by Todd Powell after seeing his line at the Union Square location of Gallery of Jewels in San Francisco. My clients were equally adoring, and quite a few of them now proudly have his pieces in their own jewelry box. What really set this line apart for me was how the diamonds are often set upside down. Such a chic way to deconstruct the typical piece of diamond jewelry.
Launched in 2008, this husband/wife team created their line in their live/work space in Cleveland, Ohio. Here’s a shot of their space and team from their website. Looks like a creative wonderland!
When I spoke with them at the Couture show, I asked them who their customer is. Todd responded, “Someone who appreciates something unexpected — a mix of chaos and order. Often it’s a particular diamond that mysteriously draws a person in; the winking and twilight effect in how the diamonds flash.” I totally get that, as I have experienced how certainly pieces seem to magnetically attract me.
You are really the master of setting diamonds “upside down.” How did this become part of your intrinsic style? It’s so cool!
I first started setting smaller single cut diamonds upside down into pieces for a wanted “twinkling” diamond effect in pieces in which I wanted a “night sky” motif or look. As a gemologist, I understood that the pavillion would function as a deep or high-angled rose cut, and the table would then became the “bottom” of the stone in which the light would internally reflect off of in more of a broad flash or winking effect, instead of the usual bling look. The cool factor, as you say, was achieved simply by doing the unexpected, but it was a fully conscious understood decision on my part.
Here’s an out-of-this-world pair of earrings I admired at the Couture show. They feature 8.31 carats of diamonds, ranging from white to grey to subtly colored. It’s a mix of inverted and pin-set stones on a sheet of white gold, backed in yellow gold.
How do you and Debra compliment each other in the jewelry design and making process?
I had a strictly technical goldsmith & stone setting training, and I followed that up with a full graduate gemologist education. Debra is the studio artist and was educated in art history & jewelry studio practices. She spent 7 years in Germany working and maintaining a studio and participating in the gallery scene. The difference and combination of our backgrounds and exposure was especially complimentary in developing our studio practice today. I do most of the initial designing of our current line and Debra fine-tunes our final decisions and does all of our custom wax modeling in studio. She also handles our studio’s internal pubic relations. Our small TAP team and myself do all the fabricating and I final finish each piece. We also both compliment each other in creating a positive working studio environment, which is very enriching for us.
I have to share this necklace I was ogling out at the Couture show, made of yellow diamond “slabs” in a mosaic pattern with marquis diamonds in the “cracks.” Can you believe this one-of-a-kind piece?
Do you have any current favorites you’ve been working on?
This wide 18K cuff is brand new and something a little different for us. It is 25mm wide at the top and tapers to 2mm wide. It has a hinge and spring mechanism that opens and closes to wear. The diamonds (3.35cts TW) are bead set into darkened palladium. I like the structure and tension within the design and the bold look of the piece. This is a fresh piece made for the upcoming Couture show.
This line is also a strong force in the world of alternative bridal rings. I tried on this prong set pear-shaped ring, and I could easily envision a bride wearing it. OR…I’d wear it as a right hand ring; you know I’m a big believer in women buying themselves jewelry!
There was such a wide array of styles at the show, it was honestly a bit overwhelming. With the mix of metals, textures and designs, I was in diamond heaven!!
Although I didn’t see this ring in person, I can’t help but falling in love with it. It’s a golden dish full of sparkling treasures.
My obsession with east-west set diamond rings began in August, when I tried on this one-of-a-king diamond ring by Lauren Wolf at the NY Now show. Granted, I’ve never really been fond of the marquis cut for myself, but turned on its side — I was hooked!
This really got me to thinking about how turning a stone on its side, be it oval, emerald, pear, or whatever, really gives the stone a whole new look! Plus, there are quite a few advantages I can see to this style:
easier to stack other rings with it
makes some cuts look “larger” as it takes up more horizontal real estate on your finger
would be ideal for shorter fingers, which may find certain stone cuts set in the traditional way too “tall”
if you wanted to re-design a current ring, it could be a great option instead of getting a whole new stone
unique and outside the box, which is always a plus in my book
With east-west set stones on my mind, I started searching for other examples. Jillian Abboud posted this photo of three antique diamonds, resting horizontally, on her Instagram feed and I started picturing different designs in my mind’s eye. (Which one would you choose?)
And then my dear friend Laura, who recently got engaged, had Polly Wales make her this fantabulous ring!
All of this spurred me onto an afternoon-long search online to see what other intriguing designs I could uncover. I did find quite a few to share with you, although I think this design is still up-and-coming, as there weren’t as many as I anticipated. In no particular order, here’s some variations on the east-west theme:
What do you think of this east-west idea? Is it something you could see yourself wearing? Or perhaps you do already? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below — I’ve love to hear from you!
It never ceases to amaze me that after 5+ years of jewelry blogging and into my 18th year of personal styling (where I pretty much am in the stores constantly), I can STILL come across such unique jewelry designs…those that stop me in my tracks and speak to me. This is exactly what happened as I walked down the first row of the NY Now Handmade show in New York City. I have a new jewelry crush on Ruth Tomlinson. Once I started chatting with Ruth, I was even more hooked. She is soft-spoken, yet passionate about her work. She is incredibly talented with detail, and when you see the intricacies of her pieces, you are truly drawn into a miniature world of gold and gems.
Ruth led me on a tour of her four collections. The first up was Lustre, which features lots of diamonds. You can see both raw diamonds, just as they come out of the ground, right next to faceted stones in this collection. She told me how she really appreciates the inner glow of the stones and how they add a bit of mystery to the piece. I completely agree! This particular ring includes grey, champagne and white diamonds in 14K gold. She selects what carat of gold to use based on what will best complement the colors of the stones.
Ruth graduated with an MA from the Royal College of Art, and still resides in London, where her line is all made in studio. (Note to self: visit studio on next trip to London!) Though she does sketch designs, she is also very led by the process itself, seeing where the materials take her. She is constantly drawn into a miniature world. Boy, do I like this world!
Midas is the next collection I explored. Inspired by her travels in India, it’s full of color and reminiscent of treasures from long ago.
The stacking bands in this group are quite swoon-worthy as well. Perhaps I need one?!
Next up was the Hoard collection, based on found treasures such as Victorian and Georgian diamonds. I could see many of these rings as alternative bridal options, couldn’t you?
How about stacking a bunch together? Fine by me! These four rings include all old hand-cut diamonds.
Ruth was wearing a couple bracelets from the Hoard collection as well — SO lovely!
Last, but certainly not least, is the Encrustations collection, inspired by the sea. Aqueous colors, pearls and shades of aqua, coral, tourmaline and more all in textured gold. Delicious!
Looking through this collection on her website, I’m quite enamored with this tourmaline and diamond ring. The subtlety and combination of hues is fabulous.
If you are as entranced by this line as I am, then take a couple minutes to watch this video which takes a closer look at her inspiration and process.
The lovely Brooke was raised in California and now lives in London. She has studios both in her Notting Hill neighborhood and in Los Angeles. Since founding her business in 2004, Brooke has always maintained strict quality in all her pieces, each hand-made with the assistance of master craftsmen. I was particularly entranced with her engraved pieces. I don’t know which of these three rings I like better. The engraving is all done by hand, and is inspired by her watercolor paintings. (Yes, she paints too!)
Can you see the wide array of colors in the boulder opals? Brooke carefully selects each stone she works with and often chooses gems which others may have overlooked, as they didn’t seem “perfect enough.” It shows how she can see the beauty within. This substantial cuff is another in her engraved series. No…I did not want to take it off!
The two collections meld together effortlessly, as seen in this stellar stack she posted on her Instagram feed. (If you want a riot of color in your feed, I suggest following Brooke Gregson.)
I was also drawn to her Ziggurat collection, so named for the rectangular stepped temples from ancient Mesopotamia. Here are two rings from this group.
The larger of these two rings is named the Hoffman Boulder Opal Sapphire ring. Don’t you think the color combination is so unique? I think Brooke’s talent in painting and drawing has really opened her eyes to mixing colors in ways that others may not think of.
Here are some Ziggurat necklaces layered together.
Once again, I’m in awe of the colors in this complex Ziggurat necklace, composed of boulder opal, turquoise and pink sapphires. It really pops!
If you’re looking for some alternative bridal rings, one of these may be what you’re looking for. I’ve got on the Eclipse Diamond Ring and the Ziggurat Frame Diamond Ring. Which would you choose?
Truly, this line is organic elegance at its best. It’s a jewelry goal to one day own a piece myself. Thanks so much for spending time with me, Brooke! I look forward to our next meeting.
Your fingerprint is one of the most unique things about you. Sarah Graham has found the perfect melding of fingerprints and incredibly meaningful pieces of jewelry. It all ramped up when she became a mother. When her son was four months old she created a necklace which had his fingerprint on it. Soon, all her mom friends had to have one too. (This is SO not your typical “mommy jewelry,” right?!) She was then tasked with figuring out a way to take this outside her studio and offer it to people far and wide. She knew there was a market for these future heirlooms. When I stopped by her booth at the Couture show, I was thrilled to see some of the collection in person!
Instead of using the old-fashioned technique of taking wax impressions of the prints and then translating them into jewelry (as she originally did), she is now using CAD technology. This allows her to take the line to a whole new level and expand her audience across the country. Take a minute (and 18 seconds) to get an up-close look at how this works.
Pretty awesome, right? And you can see that the finished product still looks very organic, as if you really did push your finger into wax. Her use of recycled gold and her signature black oxidized cobalt chrome make her designs all the more intriguing.
I cannot imagine a more meaningful wedding ring, with the prints of your bride, and perhaps your children on it as well. (How ideal would this be for a second wedding with a blended family?!) I tried on a couple men’s designs while at her booth.
One of the things I like about this collection is that the prints are so subtle, that others may not realize what a treasure you’re wearing until they look closely. It’s like wearing a precious little secret…and definitely a conversation starter.
Though Sarah has been based in San Francisco for many years, she has recently teamed up with Richards and West Jewelers, a family owned business of master bench jewelers. This is allowing her to get out in the world for more inspiration and focus on design. She is currently doing a winter-long artist in residency with Elliott Yeary Gallery in Aspen, Colorado. I can only imagine how her new environment with inspire her. I greatly look forward to seeing her new creations at the Couture show in Las Vegas in June!
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!
So does this photo get your mind going to sparkly places? I should imagine so, and this is the type of work that has made me a fan of Rebecca Overmann’s jewelry for years now. The uniquely shaped diamonds, the organic feel, and the warmth emanating from Rebecca herself on the handful of times I’ve met her in person just draw me in. Well lucky me, because I recently had the pleasure of taking a field trip to her studio in San Francisco.
Never having visited an actual jewelry studio before, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. But I finagled a great parking spot in her east Mission neighborhood, and I was ushered up quite a few flights of stairs to an expansive, well-lit space. I was in heaven!
Rebecca has a solid reputation in the alternative bridal realm for both men and women.
Wanting to know more about the whole jewelry making process, she took me through her education and procedures. She was going to school in Savannah and decided to take a jewelry making class as an elective. While I was there, she pulled out an old hat box filled with her school projects, showing me her early attempts in silver. One of which is this highly complicated Celtic necklace, which was her first carved piece ever. “I don’t know how I actually did this in such detail!” Well clearly she has an innate talent!!
Though she did have a successful career in graphic design for an ad agency, the day after she was laid off she went out and bought her workbench, the same one shown in the photo above. She’s never looked back, and she’s been going full-time for 12 years now. (I just LOVE when people find their true calling!)
So back to her self-described “old school” process–she first carves her pieces in wax.
She can manipulate the wax perfectly to accommodate the stones she chooses, which she also carves to the exact shape she envisions. And BOY were there a lot of stones around!
When the pieces are then cast in metal, she uses burs for setting the stones, and grinders and polishers for the final touches.
With her talent, vision, and creativity, the finished product is always something so special. She designs for a total range of clients, but she told me they all want something with a hand-crafted look. During my visit, she was getting ready for the NY Now show, which runs August 16-20. While she traditionally has used diamonds in her designs, she’s now branching out a bit into the world of color. This came about when she met a sapphire dealer from Sri Lanka who had some stunning gems. There were some woven pieces being made while I was at the studio as well, and here’s a glimpse of some of her colored sapphire rings. Given the rising popularity of colored gemstones, I’m confident that these will be a big hit at the show.
While I certainly appreciate the color, I had a few favorites from her various shades of neutral diamonds. She makes the most interesting and diverse collection of studs I’ve seen from one designer. (The photo below is a small snapshot.) I think the oval grey diamonds would make an outstanding addition to my jewelry collection, melding beautifully with many of my oxidized silver pieces…just sayin’.
I was also in love with her bangles, which were surprisingly comfortable on my wrist. You know how so many bangles are too heavy, or they slip down and catch uncomfortably on your wrist bones? These SO do not do that!
My mind was whirling after our hour together, and I can’t wait to go visit again! Before leaving, she gifted me an autographed copy of Beth Bernstein’s Jewelry’s Shining Stars, which is a visual feast of a book featuring 38 jewelry designers who are really changing the face of jewelry today. No surprise that Rebecca is one of the featured designers.
I can’t thank Rebecca enough for opening her studio to me and letting me pick her brain about it all. It was an amazing field trip! xo
I may not be married, engaged, or heck, even boyfriended, but that certainly doesn’t stop me from going to try on some of the most gorgeous wedding rings out there! I mean really, isn’t this the JOB of a jewelry blogger?! I definitely think so. With the upcoming bridal event happening at all three SF locations of Gallery of Jewels, I was psyched to go check out the rings and give them a try today!
The event will take place July 11-27th, and it’ll feature over 20 different designers. Today I learned that many are debuting their first bridal line, such as Sakura Haru (shown in the photo below) and Corey Egan.
Instead of feeling like I was in the land of the traditional solitaire (absolutely NO offense if that’s your personal style), my eyes were darting from case to case wondering what to try on next! Here’s some of the rings which really caught my eye (and finger…just sayin’).
Now trust me, you don’t need to be engaged to attend this event. I have (no surprise) purchased a ring or two for myself at this event in past years. If you’re into beautiful rings, then stop by one of the locations, regardless of the status of your dating life! I promise you won’t regret it!
Seeing that I’m a (single) wardrobe stylist and a jewelry blogger, people always assume that I know exactly what I want when it comes to the day that I get engaged. Shockingly, I still have no clue! So I’m always on the lookout for amazing rings, looking for inspiration. (Yes, I know that this is a “cart-before-the-horse scenario,” but a girl can dream, right?!)
Last Friday I was doing some Christmas shopping in Union Square and along Fillmore Street, and I came across two very stunning and non-traditional sets. First was on the finger of Sarah.
The trio of rings is by Armenta (whom I adore, both as a designer and as a person), with an ornate wide band and diamond eternity bands on either side. She said she also has a wide platinum band that she can substitute for the middle one if she’s having more of a “silver” day. Gotta love options! (Side note: love the edginess of the chevron knuckle ring and sparkly manicure on this young wife)
Not long thereafter, I came across this gal, who has a main band of diamond slices surrounded by smaller diamonds, and again, framed with two diamond eternity bands. Yes, I was drooling!
I think the originality and versatility of both these stacks are uber cool. Plus, they really give the wearer a chance to express their personal style. I’ll definitely be adding these ideas to my mental “wedding ring” idea list. Sorry, honey — I don’t know who you are yet, but you’re already in trouble. 😉