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Entries in designer interview (23)

Q & A with Dana Seng Jewelry

Dana Seng Jewelry | Gem Gossip

The Instagram likes are no lie--people love Dana Seng's jewelry designs. Whether it is the stackable appeal or the fashionable looks each piece has, Dana is doing it right. It is hard to win over millennials in this fast-paced society we live in, however this new company has been working hard at creating jewelry that is fun, has a good value and can be worn by all ages. And just like that, people are catching on and wanting their own Dana Seng Jewelry pieces. The personalized birthstone initials are one of Dana's most popular designs (I have my own sapphire D necklace) and it is easy to understand why. The personalization of both the gemstone used, as well as the initial chosen, is unique because of the two-step process. Most items only have one element that can be personalized--this has two!

I caught up with the designer herself to see what she has been up to:

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I am currently working on designing new styles to add to my Eternity Collection for this Spring/Summer season. I am very anxious to share these new designs because I am putting in my all in each and every one of them. I am also sharing my signature Birthstone & Initial collection with many of our fans out there.

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I started working at my husband’s wholesale company as an engagement ring designer. I was and still am very skillful at jewelry designing. So, I began my own Dana Seng Jewelry line. I use my passion and knowledge to create exceptionally unique styles that are rarely to be found.

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I would say that by showing my Birthstone & Initial Collection out there to our fans and the fact that they absolutely loved it was a proudest moment of my jewelry career. 

Also opening up my own showroom and launching the website were huge highlights so far. My showroom is located in downtown Los Angeles and I just love how beautiful it is!  Everything came together.

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To be honest, I create every piece of my design out of passion. I use a pen and a paper to scratch out all the ideas that I have and put them together. So my future goal is to continue to design unique and comfortable jewelry pieces with high quality materials and sell them at an affordable price point to our consumers.

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I would have to say an initial necklace that my grandmother gifted me when I was a teenager. ​I am very thankful and so grateful for this particular gift because it inspires me to figure out many unique designs.

Dana Seng Jewelry | Gem Gossip Dana Seng Jewelry | Gem Gossip

This sponsored post was brought to you in collaboration with Dana Seng Jewelry.

 

Dana Seng

 

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Q & A with Lisa Kim Fine Jewelry

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With each collection released and each encounter I have with Lisa Kim Fine Jewelry, I am more and more intrigued...spellbound, you could say. From the first concept of the lookbook (which I still have laid out like a coffee table best seller) to her enchanting video launch depicting her vision and a glimpse into her world, Lisa Kim strikes again, this time debuting a new collection called The Seabeast. The concept and inspiration will leave you curious to see what is next and the new pieces are gorgeous. Highly wearable ear climbers, earrings, necklaces and a unique ring make up The Seabeast collection. If you're like me, you want to know more about the pieces and some insights into the designer, so here you go! Hope you enjoy:

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My boyfriend and I love to cook. We were in the kitchen making dinner one day several months ago when he told me about the cockentrice, which originated from the Middle Ages in Europe. A suckling pig and a capon were sewn together to create a whole new beast that was roasted and served on a platter. This was culinary drama designed to amaze and delight guests while feeding them. The idea of a creature made of different parts stuck in my head and it shaped the story behind The Seabeast. Mythological beasts are mash-ups anyway; the unicorn is a horse with a horn, the manticore is a lion with a human head, rows of shark-like teeth, bat wings, and a scorpion tail.

I offer different iterations of the same animal in The Seabeast. The initial release features pendants and earrings that are fusions of scales, fins, waves, and shark teeth. I always like to leave some interpretation up to the viewer so I tend to steer away from literal design; but with this collection I felt compelled to design The Eye of The Beast, which is a departure for me. There are other pieces in the collection with ferocious teeth and spines like the ones you find on crab shells and conch shells.

Did Leviathan really exist? Was there a Kraken that smashed ships to their doom? Did the Midgard Serpent truly wrap itself around the world? Is it still there? Could it be that these myths and tall tales were about one and the same creature that has ruled the deepest and the most secret parts of the Earth all this time? Science would tell us otherwise, but we can't really say for certain that this creature is pure fiction. I like to think that this beast once lived and that its parts were scattered. Once re-assembled, it will live again. I aim to suspend your disbelief. I want you to possess a piece of this creature and take on its power and believe that it is real.

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From an early age I would draw and write stories while listening to music. This led me to my first career as a storyboard artist in animation. It was a fun occupation for sure but I never stopped dreaming stories of heroes in my fantasy world.

I was still working in animation when I signed up for a wax carving course at a small jewelry school here in L.A. One month into the course I committed to becoming a jewelry designer and business owner. I quit my job in 2011.

I took a bench jeweler course at the school. In the following year I interned for fashion designer Michael Schmidt where I got to work on some amazing metal projects for pop artists. After that I went to work for Tony Swatton, a blacksmith, bladesmith, leatherworker, costumer - a truly remarkable maker of all things. If you’ve watched film and tv in the past thirty years, chances are you’ve seen his work. (Remember the Vikings from the Capital One commercials? Tony made all of their gear.) Michael and Tony are two very different guys but they had one thing in common: They made incredible accessories that punched up a performer’s onstage presence. I came away from these places feeling really empowered by the things we worked on. I really wanted to create that feeling with statement fine jewelry.

I had the fortune of studying chasing and repoussé under European masters Valentin Yotkov and Davide Bigazzi. Chasing and repoussé are ancient metalworking techniques that allowed me to create my signature cuff bracelets that remind everyone of Wonder Woman. My bracelets are made by hand using tools and thousands of hammer blows. It’s a more efficient use of metal compared to casting - this means I can go pretty large with my designs and they remain surprisingly light in weight.

I am a member of AGTA and I serve as Communications Chair at WJA Los Angeles. In 2013 I received the Carelle-WJA Grant in Honor of Brooke Tivol McGrath. This was a cash grant of $5,000 that allowed me to produce a look book with my first collection that helped me establish the look of my brand. I feel incredibly blessed to have received this aid from WJA.

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Selling my first piece – a custom rubelite ring in 18k gold. My passion lies in bespoke pieces for fierce and independent women. You know who they are –they’re the ones who speak up and turn heads whenever they enter a room.

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I aim to grow this collection over the coming months. You can expect to see more parts of the beast. There will be one-of-a-kinds with colored stones, pearls, and diamonds.

I would like to partner with more retailers. Consumer values have been changing a lot these past few years and retailers have had to evolve with this. I strongly believe brick-and-mortar stores are still incredibly important despite the rise of e-commerce. Women know what they want more than ever before. They will always want a place where they can experience jewelry in person and connect with it.

From the very beginning my goal has been to create magic in metal. This is my raison d’être. Running a business involves wearing all kinds of hats which I love, but at the end of the day all I want is bad-ass jewelry for our bad-ass selves.

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My cavansite ring. It’s the one piece I made for myself so far. It looks magical and everyone always asks about it. It has heft like all my other designs. My pieces aren’t just pleasing to look at - they have to feel substantial and luxurious, too. My jewelry has presence just like the women who wear it.

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This post was brought to you in collaboration with Lisa Kim Fine Jewelry.

 

Lisa Kim Fine Jewelry

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Check out Diamonds in the Library, who also is featuring the new collection today as well!

Q & A with Camille of Nouvel Heritage

Nouvel Heritage | Gem Gossip

What were you doing at the tender age of 21?! Sipping your "first" glass of alcohol, studying for college exams, bar hopping with friends...? How about launching your own jewelry line?! Camille has opted for the latter, at such a young age, she has accomplished what most would in a lifetime. Her jewelry line Nouvel Heritage is handmade in Paris, with each piece highly customized, built specifically for each order, with engraving always an option. I was so grateful to receive a piece by Nouvel Heritage for my personal collection, a trio of coral branch rings NH1500, one set with spinel, one set with an opal bead, and one set with Paraiba tourmaline, made just for me. I had each engraved on the inside--one with my name, and the other two my sister's names, as we are a trio as well! I've been enjoying stacking them with other rings from my collection--sometimes wearing all three together, while other times just wearing one. I love the look of one on each finger! 

Camille's collections are so wearable, with every piece having a special touch which makes each design that much more personal and covetable. Like little tassles you can wear in multiple ways, a necklace which you can have engraved with YOUR OWN LIP PRINT (yes, all you need is dark lipstick, a piece of paper and a smartphone), bracelets which you can stack and link together, and much more! Be sure to check out her website to see everything!!

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We are currently developing a new collection that will come out beginning of March. We are also working on adding new pieces to our existing collections for the Spring/Summer season. I am very excited about it, there are going to be a lot of very colorful pieces! And as always, they can all be personalized and they offer a wide range of styling possibilities.

Nouvel Heritage | Gem Gossip

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Jewelry design has always been a part of my life; my mother really shared her passion with me very early on and for as long as I can remember we would imagine and draw jewelry pieces inspired from our travels or from the various art books she would collect. Everyday we would imagine: “oh, wouldn’t that be a great idea for a jewelry?”

I started with high-school field-discovery internships at Chaumet, the jewelry brand on Place Vendome, and it did create a vocation in me, I remember feeling very strongly that this was the industry I would want to evolve in.

Soon after that my mother, former chairwoman of Cartier, bought a workshop on Rue de la Paix, I would spend all my free-time, including vacations, helping out and learning about the business. I went through every department there, from designing to stone sorting and manufacturing, I even manufactured a piece of jewelry of my own. I always thought it was important to understand how a piece is manufactured. Everything for Nouvel Heritage is hand-made so when we conceptualize and draw the jewelry we must think of how it can be translated into an actual piece.

Nouvel Heritage | Gem Gossip

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Definitely the day we launched Nouvel Heritage! I hope it will be the day I remember as the day that started my career. I am 21 and a senior in college so I still have so much more to experience in my career.

Nouvel Heritage | Gem Gossip

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Graduating from college is definitely at the top of my goals list. I am an Entrepreneurship major so working on Nouvel Heritage is already a dream come true; I am both working in the jewelry industry and on my own venture.

2016 will also be the first full year of Nouvel Heritage’s existence. We are expecting and hoping for more brand visibility this year. We have several projects coming up this year that we are very excited about!

My dream is that Nouvel Heritage become the to-go place for bespoke and personalized jewelry. I also strongly believe in the online market. Our online platform is what enables us to be so flexible to clients’ demand and make personalized jewelry.

Nouvel Heritage | Gem Gossip

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My signet ring- personalized with my initials! I just received it as a surprise-gift from my mother for Christmas. It was a surprise because I designed it but I wasn’t aware that she had it made for me. It is actually one of the signature pieces for our upcoming collection. I can’t wait for you to see it! It is very unique and I believe is the kind of piece that last a lifetime.

Nouvel Heritage | Gem Gossip

This post was brought to you in collaboration with Nouvel Heritage; all original photography by GemGossip.

Nouvel Heritage

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Q & A with Stacy Nolan Jewelry

Stacy Nolan Jewelry

Stacy Nolan has the imagination of a boundless wonderer paired with a perfectionist's detail-oriented brain. If you've held a piece of her jewelry, you would immediately notice the back of the jewel is just as gorgeous as the front! It has been a delight to discover her designs and see the craftsmanship--hence why I thought it would be neat to create some GIF images showing the front and back of the pieces. Her signature flower back displays that attention to detail which so many designers can't seem to get quite right. For Stacy, something as simple as a solitaire gem-set pendant isn't complete without a flower open-metalworked back! Are you a jewelry store owner looking for someone like Stacy to complete your jewelry inventory lineup?! You should get in touch!! 

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So right now, I am finally getting to create a series of one-of-a-kind pieces I’ve been dreaming about literally for years: a collection of pendants loosely inspired by tarot cards. I make all this jewelry that is easy and wearable because I think about making jewelry for someone like me -- I’m active, I’m moving, my style evolves and changes, and so, as a designer, I get to dream up new things that fit with that lifestyle, but they have to be practical. I like to be smart about my purchases, I like to be smart about what I wear, because I want it to go with all the different things that I wear -- it needs to be timeless and classic. But the tarot collection is an opportunity for me to express a larger range of aesthetics. The first one in the series is the Tarot Star. I’ve made all sorts of stars and crescents and other celestial shapes for years, but now I have the chance, literally, to put the entire cosmos together in one piece. And moving onto the next piece is also literally like drawing a card from the deck: you have no idea what it is until you turn it over and take a look.

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I was a business major in college because it was the PRACTICAL thing to do, when the reality was that I just loved making things. I always had, and fortunately it didn’t take TOO long before I set my career path straight. I was already making my own handmade designs with gemstone beads and findings, and taking metalworking classes on the side, until a friend pushed me to learn about the gems I was working with. The six months I spent down in Carlsbad at GIA were the start of my real education. When I came back to Los Angeles, I was swept up into a job as the in-house gemologist and buyer for a private jeweler who worked with musicians and athletes and all sorts of big LA personalities (and this was at the time that hip-hop bling was really popular!), but then, only a month after I started, the production manager suddenly quit and I found myself covering both jobs while they searched for a replacement. They never did -- I ran the show. That was eleven years ago. And thus began my love affair with manufacturing diamond jewelry.

StacyNolan | Gem Gossip

 

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My proudest moment in my career so far, ironically, wasn’t even about what I did. When my now-husband and I traveled to India and he proposed, he gave me a ring that he had managed to design and produce using all of my people downtown -- without me having any clue that he was doing it and in spite of the fact that I told him not to get me a ring! I wanted to fall in love with a stone just like I fell in love with him -- when the right one came along -- and so his ring was a compromise: it was a simple twist in a white gold band, for, as he explained, a twist is the beginning of any good knot. It was so sweet, and the idea of that theme -- the twist of fate -- really stuck with me. I wound up developing an entire collection inspired by the twist, including some men’s pieces (his wedding band was one of them). The best part of the whole story: I realized that the love for what I do really resonates with others, that my excitement about this work is apparent -- even when I thought he wasn’t listening.

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This past year went beyond every expectation I had, mostly because of a few partnerships that blossomed in a truly beautiful way. Even though I run my own business, it is such a pleasure to work with other people -- and to work hard for our shared goals. I love the collaboration, I love the structure, I love that going to work with the people behind these partnerships enables me to get out and see all sorts of new places. (One venture will even take me back to India next month, where I’ll source stones, smooth out operations, and seek out inspiration in one of the most amazing places on Earth.) So my biggest goals for 2016 are to connect with some new, extraordinary people while continuing to build on the collaborations already in place.

 

 

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That’s tough...one of the perks of being a jewelry designer is that I get to change up my jewelry so often! I go through all kinds of different phases, and most everything I sell is something that I wear. But the one I always love wearing and will continue to wear is my diamond eternity pinky ring. In 18 years it has rarely come off. I bought the first version at a little jewelry store in the French Quarter in New Orleans, when I was in high school visiting Tulane’s campus. When I came home from the visit, my grandmother saw me wearing it and exclaimed, “You can’t wear that! It looks too much like a wedding ring!” Which, honestly, made me love it even more. But, I thought, she might be right, people might get confused, so I took it to a shop and got it sized down to fit my pinky. The next version I made in the early days of my company, when I knew more about the diamond quality and setting. That style has been a mainstay in my collection. It is simple, elegant and goes with all my other rings!

Stacy Nolan Jewelry | Gem Gossip Stacy Nolan | Gem Gossip

This post was brought to you in collaboration with Stacy Nolan Jewelry.

Stacy Nolan Jewelry

Q & A with Wendy of The Sacred Order

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The Sacred Order pays homage to the mystery and allure of bygone jewels. Still new to the "selling" game, although hardly new to collecting and curating old items, Wendy launched The Sacred Order so she could connect others with the histories of antique and vintage pieces. Each piece holds a story and is quite powerful to Wendy; for her, there's nothing like an antique locket or a Memento Mori ring. With her online shop gaining attention of collectors and followers on Instagram, she is excited to grow and continue to bring customers enchanting finds from her travels! We can't wait to see what she has in store.

We caught up with Wendy to see how The Sacred Order came to be and get some stories along the way...

 

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From the time I was a little girl I have had a deep affinity for jewelry. My mom would catch me digging through her jewelry box in her closet, examining all the colors and sparkle. Occasionally she would let me wear some of her costumes pieces. As a I got older I inherited some pieces from my Great Grandmother and Grandmother and upon their passing realized how much these objects meant to me. They became symbols of my loved ones I could wear for comfort and company as I missed them. It was clear to me that jewelry was not just about it’s inherent beauty but also how it connects us to others.

I own (and covet!) many modern pieces of jewelry, but there is a special place in my heart for antiques. I love their connection to history and our inherent desire as human beings to adorn and decorate ourselves throughout time.

I love the idea that I can help other people connect with old pieces and give them new history and new sentiment. With this idea in mind, The Sacred Order was born.

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I don’t want to give away too many of my secrets :) but I have various contacts I purchase from all over the US, attend several antique fairs in the US and travel to London and Paris twice a year.

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This last time I was in London I meet a sweet older couple at the Portobello Market and purchased a mourning ring from them for myself. There were several other pieces I liked and when I woke up the next day I regretted not having bought them. Thankfully I had grabbed their card and called them up. They graciously invited me to their home that evening, a storybook cottage in an old London neighborhood. It was a magical place filled with antiques, the history of their lives there (they had lived there over 40 years) and cases and cases of jewelry! It was a dream come true!

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While I’ve been purchasing for myself for many MANY years, I just started selling to others though The Sacred Order for about a year now. It’s terrible to say that I’ve loved every piece I’ve sold so far, but it’s true! Each sale assures me that I’m not alone in loving the pieces I find and that I’m creating a greater community around myself. It’s my greatest pleasure to receive photos back from my customers or hear their stories of how the jewelry is becoming part of their daily lives.

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My answer to this would have to be 3 pieces I own. I have my Father’s, my Grandmother’s and Great Grandmother’s class rings.

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This post was brought to you in collaboration with The Sacred Order.

The Sacred Order