Blanc in San Anselmo, CA

Some days my schedule works out effortlessly, and Monday was one of those days. Even though I went to SOMA to pack a client for a month of travel in the morning, met a colleague for lunch in the Marina in SF, and had another client in Marin later in the day, I still found myself with a whole free hour! And not only was this a lovely gift in itself, but my break just happened to be right near Blanc, a store which had been on my “must visit” list for quite some time– in fact ever I learned they carry Thalia Jewelry. (You may remember I wrote about seeing her line at the WJA Designers by the Bay event last fall.)

blanc in san anselmo, ca
When I walked in, I couldn’t believe it, but there was Ashley Morgan, another jewelry designer extraordinaire! (Click here if you missed my article about her.) Universes colliding!

Thalia Jewelry was beautifully displayed in a big case when you walk in the store. I can never get enough of her bracelets with pave diamond clasps! And I love how the rings and cross were artfully sitting on an old book. That completely fits the old world luxe aesthetic of the line.

thalia jewelry
thalia jewelry
Ashely’s gems were showcased at the opposite end of the table, and her rings gave me complete jewelry envy. (btw, I can’t believe I didn’t snap a photo of Ashley, as the earrings she was wearing were to die for!!)

ashley morgan ring
ashley morgan rings
There were definitely some new designers for me as well. The ombre on this multi-chain bracelet by Daniele Basta is a little bit rocker and a little bit boho at the same time. I seriously have a thing for Italian design! And Italian food…and Italian men…I’m seeing a theme here…hmmm

daniele basta bracelet
These chunky rings by Lee Brennan Design have a similar vibe, and they blend perfectly with the clothing sold at the store — edgy leather jackets, shoes from Calleen Cordero, and many European designs,  just to mention a few.

lee brennan design rings
I was also taken with these mixed metal bracelets by Bash Jewelry (hand made in New Mexico). They have such a great weight to them!

bash jewelry cuffs
Natalie Hicks, daughter of the store’s owner, Nancy, also has a line at the store — Justine Alexandra. She has some great pave diamond pieces, including a bangle with polki diamonds. Beautiful!

justine alexandra jewelry

I thoroughly enjoyed whiling away my break trying on jewelry, and I know I’ll be back!

blanc san anselmo ca

Ashley Morgan Designs

When I met Ashley Berman, the talented designer of Ashley Morgan Designs, at her debut trunk show at Neiman Marcus, I have to say that she sparkled just as much as her jewelry!

ashley berman and amy roseveare
She had cases full of her colorful designs, quite a few of which contained delicate, hand-cut tourmaline butterflies. I thought that was very apropos, as butterflies are a Neiman Marcus signature!

ashley morgan designs necklace
ashley morgan designs necklace
I asked her how she got into jewelry design, and here’s what she had to say:

“Growing up in Colorado, I fell in love with the majestic beauty that could only be found in nature. Learning from my creative family – especially my mother who would endlessly entertain me and my two sisters – a creative spark was ignited. While earning my degree at the University of Colorado at Boulder, I strung beads and sold them to local boutiques to pay for tuition, and that was the start. I earned a Masters Degree at the highly respected Revere Academy in San Francisco and simultaneously worked at a San Francisco jewelry store training as a bench jeweler and goldsmith. It was working behind the bench when I developed an appreciation for hands-on bespoke pieces. I learned the intricacies of metals and stones and fell in love with their ability play off one another. Behind that bench, my dream to design my own jewelry was born.”

It’s clear that Ashley has BIG dreams, as her collection is really quite stunning and diverse. I particularly liked some of her diamond slice pieces.

ashley morgan diamond ring
ashley morgan diamond slice earrings
As we spoke, she brought up her daughters and told me how they provide her with inspiration:

“While my designs incorporate many refined, unique stones such as diamond slices, emeralds, and rubies, they’re also infused with a playful whimsy that my children continually impress upon me: drawing outside of the lines, setting stones slightly askew, using pieces that include the beautiful, and often, imperfect details found in nature. All these signature characteristics represent who I am as an artist and the profound impact my children have on my designs. I’m grateful for the opportunity to share my craft with them, nurture their creative spirits, and hopefully inspire them to also follow their individual, authentic dreams. It’s inspiring to watch their imaginations blossom as they play beside me in the studio – their eyes lighting up as they look through the many jewels, often times stacking as many pieces as their little hands can handle.”

I can only imagine what it must feel like for her girls, seeing the sparkle and magic happen right in front of them. It’s a dream come true! Here are a couple of the rings that they may have stacked on their fingers! Lucky girls…

ashley morgan designs ring
ashley morgan designs ring
With such diversity in her collection, I was very curious as to what her current favorite is:

“While it is difficult to pinpoint one particular piece, as each is a labor of love, I always really enjoy the look of stackable pieces, and they’ve maintained a prominent mainstay in my collection over the years. The stackable tourmaline rings, in particular, are a personal favorite, given their array of colors and textures. The stones are versatile and beautiful, making them true lifetime pieces. Whether worn together to form a variegated modern ‘cocktail ring’ or separately for a singular look, they are beautiful. Jewelry should be fun, and impart a sense of wonderment, not limit or confine your style. Stackables do just that.”

ashley  morgan tourmaline stack rings
Not only does Ashley have a beautiful line, but she also has a “Recycled Rocks” program, where she can help you re-design items from your own jewelry box. I’m confident that most people have pieces in their own collections that go unworn, perhaps due to a shift in personal style. This is a great program to get those gems into rotation again!

Many thanks to Ashely, and her husband, Morgan, for the tour of the line. I can’t wait to see what’s next!