Spire Jewelry

I love when someone I’ve known for years follows their passion and goes full-force into what brings them joy. This is just what happened to Erin Stafford, and I’m happy to share both her line, Spire Jewelry, and our interview. ALSO…stay tuned for a fabulous giveaway of one of her necklaces, which will launch on Tuesday!! You definitely don’t want to miss this one!

So Erin, I remember meeting you quite a few years ago at an image consulting conference. How did you go about making the switch from image consulting to jewelry designer?

My background is certainly not traditional. I’ve never really done things by the book…and I love that! I was a political science undergrad and gender studies MA who worked in digital media and advertising for years in London at an agency, and then at MTV.

I was always interested in fashion though, so when I moved back to Orange County from London, I got a gig as an assistant to a celebrity stylist in Hollywood and began my career in fashion. I eventually branched out on my own and worked as a stylist, image consultant, personal shopper, and fashion show producer for a decade. (I still do from time to time as well!) I also started working as a fashion journalist for a number of magazines, but mainly Orange Coast Magazine, where I’ve been their contributing style editor for about 8 years, and still am. In that capacity, I get to meet so many fun and creative people in Orange County. I am constantly scouting out new boutiques, talking with buyers and boutique owners, interviewing designers, and fashionable people in the area. It was during a few of these meetings that I was inspired to start making jewelry.

spire agate slice necklaces
I took a few classes to learn the basics, but have mostly taught myself. I still take classes from time to time to learn a new skill or technique. I’m always looking to expand my repertoire and incorporate new materials and techniques into my designs.

I look at my design process the way a stylist would. A stylist doesn’t (normally) design their own clothes. They pull from a number of designers and stores to put the perfect outfit together for their client. In the same way, I buy beads, components, and supplies from markets and sources all over the world and put them together into fabulous pieces of jewelry. I am not physically out mining for agates and polishing my own stones, or creating molds that I then pour silver into to create a particular pendant. If I need something like that made, I have someone I use that brings my designs to life. But mostly, I love scouring the globe for interesting materials and supplies that I can incorporate into unique and fun pieces of jewelry.

spire clear crystal spike tribal necklace
While I know there are always challenges in starting up a new business, have you had any big “ah ha’s” or moments that really made you thrilled about being a designer?

Every day is a new adventure when you’re venturing into unknown territory. I feel like I’ve always been someone that jumped into things with both feet. Luckily my family is very entrepreneurial as well and have always been encouraging. I think my first ah ha moment was back in 2012 when I first started Spire. The collection wasn’t very cohesive, but I made a ton of pieces I thought were cute. Since I knew so many boutique owners from my life as a fashion journalist, I took my collection into their stores, and much to my surprise, they placed orders. It was crazy to me when one store said she wanted almost everything I had. She bought my samples right off me. I was like “Wow! I can actually do this! People like my designs and are buying them!”

There have been many other ah ha moments along the way, but that was the first major one.

How would you describe your line–what’s the aesthetic and who do you see wearing your pieces?

I always say that Spire is where the bohemian beach girl meets the city. I grew up in Orange County near the beach and am obsessed with all things turquoise and beachy. But I also lived in Europe for 8 years (Paris, London, Cambridge), so I definitely appreciate that chic, European, city vibe as well. Add to that my nomadic spirit and obsession with traveling to the farthest corners of the globe, and it’s really a mixed bag. Spire is without a doubt beachy and bohemian. But it’s also got a subtle and refined, sometimes edgy, twist to it.

The Spire girl is definitely a free spirt. Someone that speaks her mind, and isn’t afraid to be unique. But the longer I do this, the more I realize she’s any woman that wants to infuse a bit of elegant, beachy, edginess into her wardrobe.

I have these simple 18k gold vermeil spike earrings that sell like crazy. My mom, who is super classic and conservative in her dressing loves them and wears them constantly. She would NEVER be considered an edgy dresser, or someone that would gravitate towards anything spiked, but because they are so simple and understated, they work for her. Spire is transitional. It can be very beachy, bohemian, and edgy if you put it all together, or it can be elegant and refined if you wear it alone. I love that.

spire spike earrings
Where do you get inspiration for your lovely creations?

I’m inspired constantly by things I see and people I meet. I travel a lot and always come back with new inspiration. From the way I see someone put an outfit together, to beads I find in an open air market place, to adornments on a handbag, or the color of the local flowers in bloom. I’m always looking, and taking pictures of things that inspire me.

In general though, I’m very inspired by the beach and the ocean. I simply cannot get enough of that perfect aqua blue color of Caribbean or South Pacific waters. It is perfection to me. It’s not just the color of the water I love though, it’s the feeling you have when you visit those places. Life is slower. You’re relaxed. You’re not stressing about your hair and makeup. You’ve got beachy waves under a Panama hat. You wear your bikini with a sundress or linen pants. You live in flip flops and enjoy a cocktail on the beach. Comfort and fun are key. This entire notion of beach life – from the colors, the weather, the clothing, the beauty, and the vibe inspire me endlessly.

What are a couple of your current faves in your line?

I’m really excited about my new collection, Glimmered Hope. I have been wearing my Tassel necklaces almost daily and have been getting such great feedback on them. They are perfect for summer and are so easy to layer with shorter necklaces as well.

spire tassel necklace
I’m also loving my gold leafed driftwood Glimmer necklaces. They are so unique and definitely conversation pieces. They are just the right mixture of beachy and glam. They’re also so lightweight that you almost forget you’re wearing them.

spire gold leafed driftwood glimmer necklace
What’s the general price range for the Spire line?

My simple stretch bracelets start at about $20 and my necklaces go up to roughly $250, but I’d say most pieces are in the $50 – $150 range.

So I know my readers are going to want to know where they can buy a piece from Spire, so do tell!

The best place to find Spire jewelry is on my website www.thespirelife.com. It links to my Etsy store where most of my pieces are available. I ship worldwide. A selection of my pieces can also be found at Twig and Willow in Long Beach, CA, West End Napa in downtown Napa, CA, and a few other stores around California. I’m always looking for new stores, and am actually doing my first trade show later this summer, the San Francisco International Gift Fair, so I’m hoping to be in many more stores by the end of the year.

erin stafford of spire jewelry
Erin, I so appreciate your time with this interview, and I can’t wait to launch our giveaway tomorrow!!

Fern Freeman: Designer

Coming from the world of fashion, Fern Freeman is a prolific jewelry designer! When I stopped at their booth at the JCK show, I learned that a whopping 70% of the items in their cases were brand new.

fern freeman and amy roseveare

The line is full of statement pieces, many with a creative, bohemian edge. This is definitely at the opposite end of the spectrum from delicate chains and skinny stacking rings. Take a gander at this long labradorite pendant.

fern freeman labradorite necklace

And what about this geode and diamond necklace with a double chain? Yes, please!

fern  geode necklace

I was also loving this rhodium cuff with a diamond bar. It’s large, yet still a bit delicate at the same time.

fern freeman cuff

And is it cocktail time? I mean cocktail ring, that is. I’ll take mine in the form of this crystal and 22K gold ring.

fern freeman crystal ring

And because I’m obsessed with all shades of aqua, these agate and moonstone earrings are a gypset girls dream!

fern freeman earrings

Would some of these pieces work for your personal style? How would you style them?

Jewelry Box Basics: Gifts for Grads

Oh…tis is the season for graduations! 8th grade, high school, college…these gals are ready to take the next step in life! And there’s no better way to mark these amazing milestones than with a piece of jewelry. Trying to find the perfect gift for someone can be a challenge, but I think if you consider their personal style then it might make the decision a bit easier.

During my 6-part series, Jewelry Box Basics, I discussed what jewelry each person should have in their jewelry box, based on their personal style: the lady who lunches, bohemian, rock star, minimalist, romantic, and the trendy gal. Now trust me, these personal styles can develop early, so just use your keen eye to determine where your grad might fall into the spectrum. Once you determine this, then you have a clear direction of where to start shopping. Here are some of my recommendations based on each personal style.

The Lady Who Lunches
You can never go wrong with pearls with this personal style. But given that the graduate is younger in age, you don’t want to select a pearl piece fit for her grandmother. I love these earrings by San Francisco designer, Alana Leigh. The baroque pearls and the unique setting are so versatile — from jeans and a t-shirt to a cocktail dress.

Current and classic!
Current and classic!

The Bohemian
When the bohemian woman is building her jewelry collection, she is undoubtedly going to build up quite the wardrobe of statement rings. Selecting a gorgeous ring with an organic feel would be perfect. Case in point is this druzy ring by Peppina jewelry. It’s simply stunning.

A perfect, daily statement
A perfect, daily statement

The Rock Star
Even if your grad isn’t part of a rock-n-roll band, her style definitely reflects an artistic quality. This doesn’t necessarily mean she’s covered in tattoos or multiple piercings, but she still has that edge. In which case, this amazing bangle by Alexander McQueen would be spot-on for her.

Subtle skulls
Subtle skulls

The Minimalist
Granted, the minimalist won’t necessarily be expecting a piece of jewelry for her graduation. In fact, she might not even know what to do with it at first! So the key here is to give her a piece that incorporates itself so easily into the minimal pieces that she already wears, that it becomes one of her must-wear pieces. Given the popularity of initial jewelry, choosing a simple, clean initial necklace by Jennifer Meyer is the perfect choice. It can easily be layered with other necklaces, or simply be worn on its own.

Simply elegant
Simply elegant

The Romantic
The woman with the romantic personal style typically has quite a sentimental bent. So giving her something with special meaning, like a birthstone piece of jewelry, would definitely warm her heart. I recently discovered the shopNBC.com site. (Who knew!?) and fell in love with this opal ring. (Happy birthday, October!) And a cool side note, this site offers something called “value pay” on certain items, where you can split your payment into monthly installments.

I love the fire in opals
I love the fire in opals

The Trendy Gal
Only the latest and greatest will do for the fashionista grad. Since you of course want to be on time for her appointments, the perfect gift for her will be a brightly colored watch to keep her on track. This stylish aqua watch by Kate Spade fits the bill perfectly.

Colorful, yet classy
Colorful, yet classy

I hope that you all enjoy this graduation season, and I send my very best wishes to all you grads out there!

Jewelry Box Basics: The Bohemian

Welcome to the second installment of “Jewelry Box Basics.” In case you’re just joining us, this is a 6-part series about what basics I recommend that you have stocked in your jewelry box, based on your personal style. I’ve come up with six different personal styles: the lady who lunches (who was featured last week), bohemian, rock star, minimalist, trendy and romantic. Again, I know that virtually no one fits into just one style box, so read this with an open mind, seeing what appeals to you. Also, don’t let the price point bother you — just take each piece as an example of a look, and then shop at the price point where you’re comfortable.

I’m pretty psyched to write this article, as it’s definitely where my heart lives. From the Navajo necklace my father bought me when I was 6 years old (yes, I still have it!), to the orange tie-dye dress that I lived in (against my mother’s wishes…orange really wasn’t my color), I’ve always had some version of the boho tune singing in my head. The interesting thing about this personal style is that it has a real range! It varies all the way from Haight-Ashbury hippies to what I call “luxe boho.” The examples I’ll showcase in this post definitely veer more towards the later look.

The chic bohemian still loves her bling, yet is a bit more casual than the lady who lunches. This watch by Brera really hits that note. The leather strap and visible screws have a great juxtaposition with the diamond-encased watch face. And the strap is interchangeable with other colors, so the boho girl can really mix it up with her bracelets.

Casual, understated bling
Casual, understated bling

Speaking of bracelets, the bohemian woman is the queen of stacking bracelets and bangles. There’s no doubt that “basics” in this category range from beaded, elastic bracelets to jewel-encrusted bangles. This polki diamond bangle from Ross-Simons is a fabulous basic. The raw, organic feel of this type of diamond is the perfect representation for this style. And don’t worry if your metals don’t match. With the eclectic combinations created, it all comes together harmoniously.

Luxe and organic at the same time
Luxe and organic at the same time

Here’s a great example of the elastic-beaded bracelets that I referred to for stacking. This stunning bracelet is by Rona Pfieffer, one of my fave designers.

Natural neutral
Natural neutral

There is no room for a minimal ring for the Boho girl, unless it’s part of a big stack of slim rings. Rather, a large statement ring is her basic. I’m loving this teardrop quartz ring by Peppina. It’s the perfect neutral to blend with any outfit, and it really resonates with the natural feel of this personal style.

Absolutely lovely design!
Absolutely lovely design!

Once again, hoops are the basic go-to earring of choice. In comparison to the lady who lunches, the bohemian’s hoops are likely to be even larger in scale. A varied array of metals and embellishments are sure to be found in her jewelry box. These slim, yet large hoops by Jennifer Meyer (love the singular diamond station!) are fabulous.

These would blend easily with any outfit
These would blend easily with any outfit

This is where things get a little complicated, as the bohemian style really doesn’t lend itself to just one necklace. Layering necklaces is really intrinsic to this style, so her basics will likely include at least two necklaces. One should be a bolder, long piece, and the other a daintier necklace that can be worn harmoniously with the other one. This shark tooth necklace by Givenchy (yes, it’s on my jewelry lust list) would be a very versatile choice.

A chic statement
A chic statement

If you pair this with a shorter necklace, like this pyrite and natural diamond one by Jemma Sands, then you’ve really created quite a look. And of course, either necklace can certainly be worn separately.

Perfect layering necklace
Perfect layering necklace

But I have to go just one step further with what a boho woman would consider basic. One of this woman’s favorite things to do is travel, and she undoubtedly picks up singular pieces along her adventures. It could be a scarab ring from Egypt, a buddah charm on a bangle from Bali, or a piece of history from the southwest, as in this amazing Native American squash blossom necklace.

This CAN be a basic for the bohemian style!
This can be a basic for the bohemian style!

Whether this jewelry collection made you say, “Yes!!! That’s SO me!!” or, “There’s no way I’d ever even look twice at these pieces!” it’s all good. This is what makes the world go round. The key is to learn what speaks to you and develop that jewelry signature. When you have a solid sense of your style, things just fall into place and shopping gets a lot easier!

Calypso St. Barth @ Marin Country Mart

One part of my job I just love is exploring new shopping areas, especially when I can do it with my dear friend and colleague, Jen. Tuesday was one of those days, so we headed north over the Golden Gate Bridge to the Marin Country Mart. While I was expecting the hustle and bustle of the Brentwood Country Mart in southern California, which is stocked with fab stores and eateries, Marin was very quiet and there were many open shop fronts available. But I do think there’s a lot of potential there. It’s lovely, has a nice layout, and it has a truly prime location right near the Larkspur ferry. The BIG draw for me was Calypso St. Barth, one of my fave resort-inspired shops, including some drool-worthy jewelry.

Walking into the inviting store, I loved how everything is laid out by color, including the jewelry. The first tray that caught my eye was this grouping in emerald, teal and lime green.

The color is HOT for spring!
The color is HOT for spring!

The cut crystal pieces by DanniJo are a little bit vintage, yet a little bit rockin’. I also loved the delicate beaded quality of these earrings by another designer. Here’s a close-up of the earrings.

The teal transcends seasons -- great all year long.
The teal transcends seasons — great all year long.

I next headed to an area where neutrals were the story — cream, tan, beige, and white. This selection of baubles would be very versatile!

What diversity!
What diversity!

My favorite is the collar on the bottom left. It’s by London designer Fiona Paxton. I think it would dress up a basic, solid-colored sweater or tee, or enhance a cocktail dress!

This tray of boho-inspired necklaces drew my eye (I know you’re not surprised!), and I was a bit envious that Jen went home with the camel necklace with the leather tassel by Hipchik Couture. I wonder if she’d let me borrow it….


The visual delight continued as you went to the cash desk. There, you were greeted with a plethora of colorful bracelets, from designers ranging from Chan Luu to Julie Rofman.

Arm candy!!
Arm candy!!

After all the shopping, of course we had to eat lunch. We dined at the Rustic Bakery, and we were not disappointed. Though I think on our next visit, we should each get our own (giant) chocolate chip cookie, instead of splitting. 😉

Jewelry that gives back

While I certainly never need a reason to go jewelry shopping, I must admit that when I find out that part of the proceeds from my purchase will go to charity, then I’m doubly happy! I’m encountering more and more designers who do give back, and I’d like to tell you about three that I’ve found right here in the Bay Area.

First is Joan Hornig. I first saw a stunning necklace of hers at Philanthropist on Sacramento Street, but now even Neiman Marcus has picked up her line. And get ready for the shocker…100% of the profits from each purchase are donated to the charity of your choice–it’s almost too good to be true!

I would describe her line as modern chic, with pieces ranging from chunky to more streamlined. You’ll find both silver and gold, either on their own or combined with color and neutrals. Her larger scale necklaces are sure to be conversation starters!

Joan Hornig butterfly necklace

I think this pair of earrings would be just as beautiful with a cocktail dress as they would be with jeans and a sweater.

Joan Hornig earrings

While in Manika Jewelry recently, I was excited to see and learn about Jeanne Johngren’s line. She donates a portion of her proceeds to various charities, some of which focus on children, education, and health literacy. Jeanne combines her background in art and cinematography to create stunning pieces in silver, gold, and gemstones. Two circular pendant necklaces specifically jumped out at me while in the store.

Gold medallion with diamond starburst

Mandala inspired necklace by Jeanne Johngren

Finally, I have to tell you about a jewelry line that I’ve had a long-time love affair with…Love Heals. This family company (mom, son and daughter) is based right here in California and they have 10 trees planted for every piece they sell. How amazing is that?! This organic, bohemian-flavored line is just divine. I find their simpler, long necklaces are ideal layering pieces, and their more ornate pieces are stunning on their own. Here are a couple examples of their design:

Love Heals necklace

Double layer necklace

Love Heals sells at a wide range of stores and boutiques. I often find a nice selection at the various Margaret O’Leary boutiques in the Bay Area.

So with these designers in mind, go hit the stores with a happy heart, knowing that your new treasure will be helping others as well. 🙂

Rona Pfeiffer: Designer

I must confess…Rona Pfeiffer is one of my all-time favorite jewelry designers. Her exquisite creations just sing to my bohemian luxe heart. From the antique beads to polki diamonds and sapphires, her pieces reflect her unique creativity and esthetic.

Necklaces by Rona Pfeiffer

I first met Rona a few years ago at a trunk show and acquired my first bracelet. Since then, I’ve made it a point to attend all her local trunk shows. I was thrilled to see her in a new venue this past week at In Her Shoes in Palo Alto. I feel this boutique is the perfect fit for her, as all the profits from this store go to charity.

Rona Pfeiffer and Amy

Formerly of the film/tv industry, Rona uses her background in painting to “paint with stones,” as she says. She is one of the only designers I’ve met who actually makes each and every piece by hand herself–no outsourcing, no big company, just Rona. She finds her distinctive materials in her travels, be it from a dark, underground store in New York where she found some vintage ivory, to a shop in London where she discovered a pile of antique beads so amazing she couldn’t pass them up. And that’s one of the cool things about her jewelry…she doesn’t have an unlimited supply of different materials, so once they’re used up, they’re gone. This really ensures that you’ll have a one-of-a kind treasure.

More lust-worthy pieces by Rona Pfeiffer

If this line appeals to your personal style, I highly encourage you to check out her amazing jewelry in person. It will easily mix and match with your current collection, be great as layering pieces or on their own.