Tura Sugden: Designer

Tura Sugden’s designs have been on my mind since I first saw her collection last fall at the WJA Designers by the Bay event. Since she’s a local designer here in San Francisco, I decided to invite myself to her studio in Noe Valley for a visit. She’s so kind, and she was more than happy to show me around.


Starting the morning off right at Tura's studio!
Starting the morning off right at Tura’s studio!

There’s nothing like seeing an artist’s bench and trays of gems just waiting to be tried on!

tura sugden's studio
tura sugden earrings
I asked Tura how she got started in the jewelry business, and here’s her reply:

“I studied fine art and graduated with a BFA in sculpture. During school I was always very fabrication-focused; I loved the process of making an object. I was most comfortable working on a small scale and my work had a very natural progression towards jewelry. I started a traditional jewelry apprenticeship in my last year of college, and I continued working for jewelers for seven years. I developed my line while apprenticing and just last year I went full time with it.”

I am SO not surprised how this new line has been steadily growing in popularity. (This girl is going places!) I find it truly unique, and I love the cage-like settings around diamond slices.

tura sugden champagne diamond slice cluster earrings
She has mentioned that she uses a German blow torch, and I asked her to explain what this is:

“This type of torch changed my life! It feels so intuitive and natural to me. It incorporates the power of breath to supply oxygen and a gas (I use propane), which is controlled by a hand-adjusted valve. You’re using your breath and your hands together to control heat, which makes it easier to solder pieces that might otherwise become easily overheated. It’s a deeply traditional way of soldering that is no longer widely used – many jewelers I talk to have never heard of it!”

tura sugden using her german blow torch
I can only imagine all the hard work that goes into designing and making a jewelry line. I asked her what her favorite part of it all is, and she told me, “I am in love with executing a project. Most of my work is one-of-a-kind, so each piece I produce presents new challenges. It never gets boring and it allows me a freedom with my work that I’m really grateful for.”

I wanted to know what her current favorite piece is:

“A few weeks ago I produced a new cuff that is my ultimate favorite every day piece. The Needle Eye Cuff incorporates a design motif I’ve been using in my work and is the most luxe weight. It’s a really streamlined piece and I’m proud of the engineering of it— it features an invisible clasp and a fantastic fit, and I love how it stacks with other bracelets and bangles. I’m about to produce it in multiple sizes!”

I must admit, I love it too!

tura sugden bracelet
Since she’s a local, I decided to ask some flash questions as well, as I’m always looking for hot tips!

Favorite SF restaurant
La Ciccia or Locanda, I can’t pick!

Favorite SF store
ZGO – I’m a scent junkie

Favorite thing to do when you’re not working
Cooking is my favorite way to unwind after work. Second favorite is eating!

Clothing item you can’t live without
A cashmere sweater!! I have one on me at all times.

Dream travel destination
I can’t wait to get to Bali…

I have to say, I truly enjoyed getting an inside look at Tura’s work and life. Thanks so much for having me! If you’re interested in seeing her line, click here for a list of stockists.


white gold oval ring
white gold oval ring


Field Trip to The East Bay: Part 1

One thing I truly love to do is explore new shops and neighborhoods. I’m always amazed how many great places there are, practically in my own back yard. My friend Laura (you may remember her from my great piercing escapade), is like a walking tour book of amazing stores. It’s not just because she loves shopping as much as I do (and she does!), but she is a rep for many home, jewelry, and gift/accessory lines with Aesthetic Movement, so it’s her duty to know all the happening places.

We set our itinerary for various places in Berkeley, Piedmont, and Oakland. I picked her up in SF and headed over the Bay Bridge. First up was Zaver & Mor in Berkeley. I’d met the lovely owner, Rada Sahney, at a couple Women’s Jewelry Association events, so I was very eager to check out her establishment, and it definitely did not disappoint.

Amy Roseveare and Rada Sahney
She carries some of my favorite lines, such as Tura Sugden, Julez Bryant, and Elyria Jewels. But there were also some lines that I was seeing for the first time. One of my favorite pieces I saw the whole day is this gold and diamond bracelet by Mia Chicco. (One more item for my jewelry lust list!)

mia chicco bracelet
I was also excited to see a display of Sharon Zimmerman’s work, who is a local jeweler from San Francisco.

sharon zimmerman jewelry
By the time we had (just about) tried on everything we wanted to, it was time to grab a bite for lunch. Since our second stop was going to be Red Bird, right by the Claremont in Berkeley, we popped into Rick & Ann’s for a really tasty meal at their community table.

laura forst and amy roseveare
Sufficiently refueled, we went to Red Bird and began perusing all the lovely clothing and jewelry. This, in fact, is a place where I have purchased many of my favorite items over the years.

red bird in berkeley, ca
I couldn’t resist trying on this unique pearl necklace by Melissa Joy Manning I spotted in the sale case. The organic shapes of the pearls are captivating.

melissa joy manning necklace
I thought it looked pretty cool layered with the two necklaces I was wearing. And who am I to turn down 60% off?!

melissa joy manning, the woods, and flying lizard necklace
Ok…time to hit the road again, and next up was Atomic Garden in Oakland. (Next time I want to explore this area more, as there seemed to be many cute shops on College Avenue!)

atomic garden in oakland, ca
While jewelry isn’t the main focus of the store, that isn’t to say that they don’t have a nice selection, including Zoe Chicco, Emily Amey and Ilsa Loves Rick, to name a few.

emily amey rings
ilsa loves rick jewelry
atomic garden jewlery
I was definitely psyched to visit Esqueleto, which is a jewel box of a store in the Temescal neighborhood of Oakland, curated by jeweler Lauren Wolf. Not only does the store carry her line (the two rings I have on in the photo below), but they have selections from many designers, including a beautiful vintage selection.

lauren wolf rings

vintage beauties
vintage beauties

I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Mania Mania is branching into the fine jewlery business, and I love this ring by them!

mania mania ring
The natural beauty of these pieces by Lou Zeldis also caught my eye.

lou zeldis jewelry
As fate would have it, jeweler Marisa Haskell, whose line is now named Marisa Mason, was in the shop, so we had to end our field trip by running around the corner in to her boutique as well.

marisa mason oakland
She has a workshop right in the store, and her jewelry is artfully displayed on the walls, making it very easy to try things on.

marisa mason workshop
marisa mason jewelry
marisa mason necklace
By this time, the rain was starting to come down hard, and it was time to head back across the Bay Bridge to San Francisco. Our itinerary was clearly ambitious, as we still have many stores left on our list. Hence…part 2, (hopefully) coming in January. If you have any recommendations for additions to our list, please let me know in the comment section below!

WJA Designers by the Bay

This is the second year I’ve attended the Women’s Jewelry Association’s big event, Designers by the Bay. This event is truly a visual feast, held in the Shreve’s building near Union Square; it’s where Bay Area fine jewelry designers showcase their latest work. There was unfortunately no way to have an intimate look at every case during the time I was there, but there were four designers that really got my attention, and I was able to take a closer look at their lines.

Tura Sugden was a new kid on the block (It was her first show!), but she is going places..quickly. She is based in Noe Valley in San Francisco, where she designs and makes each piece herself. I was taken by the unique settings and stone shapes — look at this spectacular pair of diamond earrings!

tura sugden jewelry
The same amazing detail, created with a German blow-torch, is shown in her studs as well. (I’m especially paying attention to these now that I have my new piercings!)

tura sugden earrings
And what’s not to love about this diamond cuff?

tura sugden diamond cuff
In contrast to the complexity of Tura’s designs, I was also very drawn to the sleek lines of Coleoptere (which means beetle in French). I tried on this shiny gold disc ring (called the wabi sabi ring), with diamonds around the edges. So interesting how the light reflects off the surface of it, making it almost look like a stone of some sort.

coleoptere wabi sabi ring
Here’s a clear photo of it from their website.

coleoptere ring
This Oakland-based company has all female goldsmiths — very unique! They use 18K royal yellow gold, which I learned is a rare buttery color with a touch of green. I thought the design of these asterisk earrings was awesome.

coleoptere earrings
The woman I was standing next to wanted to go home with these stunning gold hair pins…and they’d look fab on her with her long hair!

coleoptere hair pins
Jennifer Dawes is an artist that I’ve wanted to meet for years, and I finally had the pleasure at this event. Based in Santa Rosa, Jennifer’s collection was bursting with color. There were stacks of rings in all hues.

jennifer dawes rings
jennifer dawes rings
With a strong focus on responsible, sustainable jewelry, all of Jennifer’s jewelry is hand fabricated and finished at her studio. I was in love with this necklace, comprised of a very pale emerald above an emerald crystal. The combination of color and texture is sublime.

jennifer dawes necklace
Taking a stroll through her website, this Etruscan double diamond ring spoke to me.

jennifer dawes etruscan double diamond ring
My final showcase for the evening (before the Giant’s won the World Series and I had to get the heck out of SF before the mayhem) was that of Thalia Jewelry. Designer Rachel Clinnick just glowed with delight when showing me her amazing work. I could instantly feel her passion for design. This stack of diamond and opal rings was amazing–especially the one with the diamond teardrop pendant. Yum!

thalia jewelry rings
Most of the pieces are one-of-a-kind. I couldn’t believe how this large Ethiopian opal ring was on fire on my finger!

thalia jewelry opal ring
And this one she dubbed “The King’s ring.” Wowza–very heavy and worthy of royalty indeed!

thalia jewelry ring
Finally, this necklace with it’s diamond pave double snake clasp was beautiful! The clasp is completely interchangeable, allowing you to create different necklace or bracelet looks. Brilliant design!

thalia jewelry double snake clasp
I wish I had been able to stay longer at the event, as there were many more cases beckoning me. So many jewels, so little time…