Leeorah Betan-Hartman is naturally talented in many ways, but we are so ever thankful she has chosen to hone her skills with jewelry design with Lulu & Shay. Her creations are enchanting. Her finishes are unfinished perfection. Her style is effortless cool. And I want so many of her pieces! I got the chance to meet her and her husband at Metal & Smith in September, happily trying on my favorites and seeing everything in person for the first time. Excited to catch up with her and see what she has going on in the new year!
I am always working on new pieces for not only my next collection, but I find that I often return to the collections that are the foundation of my jewelry line, adding a nuance or a different take on the theme. Right now I am working on some new pieces for my Luna Diaries Collection- an intimate look into Victorian inspired jewelry. Victorian jewelry is rich with meaning. The carved symbols and motifs are not just pretty embellishments; each have hidden symbolism and even the gemstones have multiple meanings. I am so intrigued and amazed by the romanticism of the jewelry of that era. I feel that the rich history of these pieces mix well with the natural and flowing feeling of my pieces that are influenced by nature and our surroundings – completing a full thought and story when layered and worn together.
Even as a young child I had a deep affinity for jewelry. I would sneak into my mom’s jewelry box and try on each of her pieces of jewelry, gazing at all the different stones and colors. I also made my own jewelry as a child- first with beads and with polymer clay and then evolving into more intricate bead and wire wrap pieces. In college I earned a B.F.A. in film and pursued a fulfilling career in editing film trailers, but I missed working with my hands. I started taking classes in metal-smithing and wax carving in NYC. Wax carving allows me the opportunity to create not only more finely detailed pieces but also freer flowing and organic ones. I just love the freedom and creativity I have while working with wax.
Once I had a cohesive collection, I launched Lulu & Shay. I wanted a name that had personal meaning like the jewelry I was creating. Lulu is a nickname I had as a child, and Shay is my husband's childhood nickname. My two passions -- jewelry and film -- are joined as I use the story telling nature of film to apply a narrative element in my jewelry line. Editing films requires distilling a big picture into its key elements, and I strive to mirror that in my jewelry making. Each piece can tell a story of its own while striking a personal connection with the wearer.
I would say my proudest moment is when I design a custom-made engagement or wedding ring. It is humbling to be part of such a significant and special moment in a couple's life and to capture their connection in the jewelry I create. I enjoy the process of collaborating with my clients, hearing their stories of love, and finding ways to create a ring that embodies how they envision their relationship. Throughout the process, as the designs evolve from sketches to hand carved wax to the final piece, I have a sense of solidifying, both literally and figuratively, their commitment and love. It is such an honor to know that they will have those rings for life, unique pieces to cherish and pass down. I’ve done rings that also match one another, whether it is the texture or motif. Being trusted with creating a symbol of love and longevity, knowing someone saw that potential in my work, makes this the moment I feel proud of what I create.
I am so excited to continue to expand my business. I look forward to partnering with more retailers, both jewelry stores as well as lifestyle stores. I am also working on expanding my online presence and client base, including my work on more bespoke and one-of-a-kind pieces. I am, of course, always continuing to push my creative process while still sculpting, inventing and carving my pieces by hand. It is so important to me that I make all of my jewelry with a dedication to ethical manufacturing. I am approached by more and more people who are looking for unique and one of a kind pieces that truly reflect their values and personal taste. I find that more people are conscious of the environmental impact they make and they want to make sure that the jewelry they wear represents their desires for a more eco-friendly world. I strive to create pieces that reflect this inner core value not only through the appearance of the piece, but through the entire process of making the jewelry itself.
As I continue to grow, I am exploring more options of how I can insure that all aspects of my business follows that standard.
My favorite piece of jewelry I own is my initial ring pendant necklace. My personal necklace has a ring for everyone in my family. Each ring has our 3 initials on it (first, middle, last). I like that the initials are subtle and you have to look closely to see them making it even more personal. I also have a ring on the necklace that has 7 diamonds in it, one for each member of my family as well as our rescue dog Lulu. She came with the name and owned it so well I just forfeited my nickname ;). I wear my Precious Leaf earrings in 18K Yellow Gold almost daily. They are so light and effortless and remind me of my favorite season Fall. I tend to change my rings that I wear almost daily, but of course I have favorites too! Lately, I like to wear several stacking rings topped with the Beatrix Ring with diamonds.
This post was brought to you in collaboration with Lulu & Shay.
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