Nan Fusco: Designer

I can’t quite remember the first time I saw a piece of Nan Fusco’s jewelry online, but I instantly fell in jewelry lust! Her pieces are edgy, feminine, and organic at the same time. I’ve been dying to see them in person! While on a recent trip to southern California, I was so excited to meet up with her in Laguna Beach and find out more!

nan fusco and amy roseveare

Our hour together just flew by, as she pulled out trays upon trays of treasures. We started with bracelets, and this stunner made from natural Kasumi pearls, wrapped with oxidized silver chain, made my jaw drop.

The range of color in the pearls is amazing!
The range of color in the pearls is amazing!

Next she showed me some bracelets with a staurolite as the center medallion. I had never heard of these before! She explained that they are also known as the “twin cross.” They are found naturally in the ground in just a few places, such as Georgia (it’s actually their official state mineral) and in the Swiss Alps. Legend says that they are formed when a fairy’s tears hit the ground.

Staurolite  with fossil coral and malayan garnet
Staurolite with fossil coral and malayan garnet

This is one of the unique aspects of Nan’s line. She “artfully composes” things that she finds on her wanderings. Often, it might be something that others would pass by (such as the staurolite). But not Nan — instead she comes up with singular designs, some of which wakes her up in the middle of the night, having dreamt about it.

Nan’s bracelets stack beautifully, as shown in this garnet stack, which includes everything from Keishi pearls to elk antler to cognac diamonds. Stack-tastic!


Another fabulous thing about many of her pieces, is that they can be worn many ways. Take her “quattro” necklace (which means 4 in Italian) It starts out looking like one long chain. BUT…you can wrap it multiple times to wear as a bracelet, or style it in three different necklace variations. Check it out!

The Quattro
The Quattro

Wrapped as a bracelet
Wrapped as a bracelet

Worn as a lariat necklace
Worn as a lariat necklace

Worn hooked to the side
Worn hooked to the side

Or simply tie it!
Or simply tie it!

With a background in graphic design, she started her jewelry business in 2003, along with her husband Michael. She clearly has a mind for design and balance, as so many of her necklaces have elements of asymmetry, yet they all hang perfectly. Case and point are her claspless “loop” necklaces, which have a small loop of chains that allow you to adjust the necklace to any place you’d like. Here’s an example of this inventive concept shown in oxidized chain, elk antler and a diamond loop.

Yes, please!!
Yes, please!!

And what’s not to love about this raw ruby tie necklace? And of course, it can be worn various ways as well.

nan fusco raw ruby tie neclace

Nan is a self-taught, one-woman show. She designs and makes each piece by hand in her southern California studio. And I don’t know how she finds time for it, but she and her husband also run an ad agency as well. How does she do it?!

I love how Nan really uses unique stones. She told me that she looks for high quality, yet not “perfect” stones. The uniqueness and natural variation in her materials really inspires her. Take a look at these exquisite baroque pearl earrings, with her signature chain wrap. (did I mention she oxidizes all the chains herself as well?)

They balance perfectly!
They balance perfectly!

I could definitely go on and on about this line, and I encourage you to check out her website. She said the most common thing she hears when people see her work is, “I’ve never seen anything like it!” I must agree.

Clara Williams: Designer

Items that have multiple functions are something I love. Whether it’s a leather motorcycle jacket that can be transformed into a killer vest with de-tachable sleeves, or my hiking pants which can become capris with ease (don’t laugh!), I think it really extends your cost-per-wear on an item.

Dartmouth and Harvard-educated Clara Williams has brought this vision to jewelry, which you know is pretty much one of my biggest passions. With her patent-pended magnetic clasp technology, and over 11 years in business, she has broached (no pun intended) a whole new territory in jewelry. Honored to meet this Chicago-based designer at the Couture show in Vegas, I was so intrigued by her line.

clara williams jewelry
Clara and I at the Couture Show

So the concept behind her necklaces is that you choose the main necklace element, be it one or her 14K or 18K chains, or something more exotic, such as pearls. From there, you choose your center piece, which magnetically clasps to the necklace. How brilliant is that?!

clara williams necklace
14K braided gold necklace with tourmaline centerpiece

With your imagination, the sky is the limit with the combinations you can come up with. Here are some beautiful examples.

clara williams jewelry
Love the blue hues of lapis and turquoise!

clare williams jewelry
The rough aquamarine has my name all over it!

Her earrings are also convertible. Different enhancers easily slide on and off the basic earring. I can imagine that this line is the traveler’s dream, with the amount of different looks you can achieve with her jewelry! In addition, once you start “collecting” her line, you can just keep adding different pieces, really creating a multitude of looks.

Though Clara loves spending her time fly-fishing and traveling to exotic locales such as the Galapagos Islands, you can also catch her here state-side. Her line is offered in a variety of retailers, and you can even see it live in Pebble Beach coming up on August 16-19 at Elan at the Lodge. If you ever needed a reason to visit one of the most picturesque places in the Unites States, here you have it!

Seattle’s Treasures!

I recently made my way to Seattle for a fun girl’s weekend. (In fact I think I’m still recovering…) I didn’t have time to do any shopping research before leaving (oh, the horrors!), so I just relied on tips from locals and hitting the pavement to see what I could find. I knew there were some gorgeous items just waiting to be discovered, and I was right!

I’m sure you’re not surprised to hear, but I think I was shopping within about and hour and a half of landing! The first boutique I visited turned out to be one of my favorites of the trip. Alhambra is conveniently located right near Pike’s Place Market, and I was delighted to meet one of the owners, a lovely Turkish woman named Serpil. When you walk into the shop, you feel transported to some exotic location. The merchandise is cleverly displayed in every nook and cranny. She carries some of my favorite jewelry designers, from Erica Molinari to Nava Zahavi. There’s a wide array of price points and styles, so I’m sure that most shoppers can find something they just “must” have.

Alhambra Seattle
Serpil and Amy

alhambra seattle
A glimpse of the exotic decor

(Side bar: If you’re into vintage jewelry, check out Isadora’s Antique jewelry just across First Street. I spotted some cool Native American pieces and some lovely 1890’s Persian turquoise.)

If you wander a few blocks further down First, you can’t miss Watson Kennedy, which is a virtual cabinet of curiosities come to life! It’s a huge store, and there is jewelry tucked in quite a few places, so you really have to spend some time looking. (like that’s a chore, right?!) I thought these earrings (made by a friend of the owner) were quite intriguing, as I do have sort of a “thing” for religious artifacts. They’re made from vintage French medallions.

watston kenney seattle jewelry
Charming earrings

Watson Kennedy doesn’t sell any fine jewelry, so you can be sure that they have lots of baubles at accessible price points. It’s a truly eclectic mix of goodies!

watson kennedy jewelry
Colorful delights at every turn!

In talking with locals (and the ever-so-helpful concierge), I next found myself heading about 20 minutes from downtown to the Ballard neighborhood. This is purported to be an “artsy” area of town, which in my mind translates to unique jewelry! I was about done exploring and hadn’t come across anything that turned my head…and then I discovered Curtis Steiner. This triangular, well-lit shop is just amazing! Everything in this delightful boutique is either antique or hand-made by (predominantly) Washington artists. The owner designs exquisitely feminine necklaces, many of which can transform into short or long lengths.

curtis steiner necklaces
A tri-level display of Curtis' designs

The displays of antique jewelry abound!

curtis steiner jewelry
A parade of bangles

curtis steiner jewelry
Gorgeous antique pieces

The walls of the store are covered in floor-to-ceiling displays of hand-made greeting cards, also a creation of Curtis.

curtis steiner seattle
Hangin' with Curtis

Of course, all this shopping makes a girl hungry. In Ballard, stop by La Carta de Oaxaca for some amazing Mexican food. Yum! Or if downtown, make your way to the Purple Cafe & Wine Bar for drinks and dinner. Gotta keep a shopping girl well-fueled!