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Entries in handmade jewelry (8)

Q & A with Leeorah of Lulu & Shay Jewelry


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.

LuLu & Shay Jewelry | Gem Gossip LuLu & Shay Jewelry | Gem Gossip


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.

LuLu & Shay Jewelry | Gem Gossip “19351920968_fc7246ae21_b"

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. 

LuLu & Shay Jewelry | Gem Gossip LuLu & Shay Jewelry | Gem Gossip LuLu & Shay Jewelry | Gem Gossip 19539853465_d2ff1a6e7d_b

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.

LuLu & Shay Jewelry | Gem Gossip LuLu & Shay Jewelry | Gem Gossip


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.

LuLu & Shay Jewelry | Gem Gossip LuLu & Shay Jewelry | Gem Gossip

This post was brought to you in collaboration with Lulu & Shay.

Lulu & Shay

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Jewels at my Doorstep: BCE Jewelry

BCE Jewelry | Gem Gossip BCE Jewelry | Gem Gossip BCE Jewelry | Gem Gossip BCE Jewelry | Gem Gossip BCE Jewelry | Gem Gossip BCE Jewelry | Gem Gossip BCE Jewelry | Gem Gossip BCE Jewelry | Gem Gossip BCE Jewelry | Gem Gossip BCE Jewelry | Gem Gossip

Not every girl goes from making beaded bracelets when she was little to creating her own jewelry line years later. This is the story of BCE Jewelry and it is her pure talent and style that has gotten her far, along with her cult following (including myself) who anticipate every Instagram post she makes revealing new designs! I feel like I've been following Becca since "the beginning" but I guess truly the start was before Instagram...before the Internet...back in the 80s/90s when she begged her dad to walk down a few blocks from his office to check out a local bead shop. She reminisces, "I'd spending hours there, torturing the sales ladies with questions and finally leave with a few things. When I got back I would string the pieces together and sell them to all the ladies at the office (who I'm sure bought them out of charity)."

Interestingly enough, that's all she needed to spur a love for jewelry. That, and her grandmother gifting some rings her father once made back in the 70s. These memories stick with her and have shaped her budding jewelry career. BCE Jewelry stands for "before common era," an ode to all that inspires her--this includes ancient civilizations, Greek, Roman, Egyptian, and Byzantine jewelry. History fascinates Becca, which also has a heavy influence on the way she decorates her house--an obsession we both share. I love following along on Instagram and seeing snapshots of her antique paintings hung in a story-telling vignette, with brass accents mixed with California ranch-style living. She calls Carmel Valley home, just south of San Francisco where she moved for a year to study and learn the craft of jewelry making.

The BCE Jewelry design aesthetic has evolved, now making pieces mostly in 14k yellow gold and incredibly unique gemstones--like boulder opals, turquoise, variscite, diamonds, and tourmalines. One-of-a-kind pieces are her forte, as these gemstones are one-offs; each opal has a certain play-of-color, each turquoise has a unique pattern, each variscite has a special mottling. In the future, Becca has big plans for using more antique diamonds, both Old Mine cuts and Old European cuts. I personally love her designs all stacked together, worn across the board. Getting to play with her designs in real life was so much fun. I've become addicted and I can't wait to own my very own someday! My sister-in-law was so taken by the light blue turquoise ring in my photos above, that she made that one hers! 

For the photoshoot, I wanted to play off of the multi-hued blues and greens which BCE Jewelry constantly showcases. From deep lapis blue to Robin's egg blue--minty green and even forest green, all these colors needed to be there! I felt the theme needed to have an almost "out of this world" feel, where the theme song would definitely be Beastie Boy's Intergalatic, on repeat. Hope you enjoy and get inspired!

Jewelry Details: (as referenced from last photo)

Three-stone cabochon tourmaline ring set in 14k yellow gold, Price: $980

X-Large Variscite ring set with three diamonds in 14k yellow gold, Price: $1,200

Blue Kingman turquoise ring set with diamonds down the center in 14k yellow gold, $900

Small Chinese turquoise ring set in 14k yellow gold, $480

Light blue Arizona turquoise ring set with diamonds (North & South) in 14k yellow gold (Sold--can always make another similar piece)

Large green Damele turquoise ring set with white diamonds in 14k gold, Price: $1,350

All earrings pictured are BCE Jewelry as well, inquire for details!

------> as always, custom pieces can be created upon requst <--------




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Jewels at my Doorstep: Kassandra Nicholson Jewelry

Kassandra Nicholson | Gem Gossip Kassandra Nicholson | Gem Gossip Kassandra Nicholson | Gem Gossip Kassandra Nicholson | Gem Gossip Kassandra Nicholson | Gem Gossip Kassandra Nicholson | Gem Gossip Kassandra Nicholson | Gem Gossip Kassandra Nicholson | Gem Gossip Kassandra Nicholson | Gem Gossip Kassandra Nicholson | Gem Gossip Kassandra Nicholson | Gem Gossip

We as consumers of jewelry are getting pickier and pickier. We want hand-crafted, rare and unique metals, one-of-a-kind gemstones and we want all these, plus a cool, eco-friendly designer to be the one we can trust to provide all this. In walks Kassandra Nicholson who can give you all these and more.

You say you like hand-crafted? Well, Kassandra makes all her jewelry in a studio located in Brooklyn, NY where each piece is individually made. She has been designing jewelry for thirteen years, with custom creations being her specialty.

Are rare and unique metals something that strike your fancy? Kassandra designs with palladium, brown gold and green gold. An intentional heft is something that sets her jewels apart from the rest--like lightweight, manufactured pieces. After wearing some of her designs myself, the density of the jewelry becomes a part of you and it feels good to wear--when I take the jewelry off, it is like I'm missing a part of me. It is an interesting concept and one might not grasp it until they wear a piece like this.

Do you like one-of-a-kind gemstones? You're in luck because not only does Kassandra design with unique gems but she is also a Graduate Gemologist--a somewhat rare occurrence in the field of jewelry designers. Fully trained by GIA in both NY and Carlsbad, Kassandra is able to hone her gemstone knowledge and creativity as a designer into one. She says, "Stone cutting itself is a work of art, and in becoming a Gemologist I became fascinated with the history of diamond cutting.  I knew I wanted my designs to include antique old mine and rosecut diamonds, which sparkle in candlelight, and have a mystery to them in their imperfection. In Gemology, you also start to appreciate the way nature cuts its own stones, and I chose uncut diamonds in my designs, as well as raw diamonds that have so much character, they make each piece unique.  My designs contain mostly diamonds and rubies for their durability, since the jewelry is meant to be worn on all its wearer's adventures."

Kassandra Nicholson Jewelry has an edgy, nature-inspired theme to it--with her Wild Collection setting off some big love for your inner spirit animal. With animals like a snake, raven, elephant and wolf, it is evident that Kassandra feels a connection with animals. She says, "I wanted my jewelry to serve as a personal talisman, where people could choose an animal with qualities that they see or desire in themselves.  I like jewelry to have an open-ended symbolism, to leave room for the wearer to make it her own.  I started the collection with creatures that represent a different wild spirit, and I hand-carved the designs intending to show the core of the animal, such as the wolf mid-howl."

Other collections include the New York Collection and the California Collection, both named after Kassandra's two places within her life where she felt most at home. The juxtaposing east-coast, west-coast vibes are apparent in both collections. The restlessness and edginess of Brooklyn is seen in her New York Collection, featuring a Spike Ring done in palladium with rough diamond octahedron crystals set in the open ring design, a Skull Ring featuring an uncut diamond in palladium, and a dog tag-inspired pendant in oxidized brown gold--an ode to toughness and resolution. A peaceful and free-spirited feel is what her California Collection gives off, featuring long threader earrings in 14k yellow gold and tear-drop diamonds or rubies, a navette ring with clean, open lines set with one unique macle crystal rough diamond, and two stacking surf and sand bands done in 14k pink gold.

When worn together, all three collections by Kassandra Nicholson Jewelry really complement each other. I had an awesome time shooting the Jewels at my Doorstep feature, and hope to meet Kassandra in person one day!

You can shop all her designs right from her website:

Kassandra Nicholson Jewelry

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Gem Gossip Visits Mary Ray Jewelry in Austin, TX

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If you were given a few trays of a jewelry designer's work to "play" with and photograph, would you feel like you know the designer even if you never met him or her by the end of the day?  My answer is yes, if that designer is good, and if his or her aesthetic was a reflection of themselves.  While spending some quality time with Mary Ray's jewelry which she has been designing since 2009, I left feeling like I had also spent a day with her!  Although I didn't get a chance to meet her in person, her designs kept me entertained and fully happy!

Graceful, simplistic, versatile and contemporary all are perfect descriptions for Mary Ray's designs.  She mentions, "If it is something I just want to wear, I'll make it myself!" This is the kind of thinking that I like! It is also the foundation of what creates a very fashion-forward and wearable jewelry line--pieces you would wear everyday, which become a part of your life and your style.  What started with a circular motif eventually formed the basis of her jewelry line. Her versatile and modern pieces all flow very well together, something she strives to do when designing.  She says, "I want it all to look like it belongs together."  Lately she has become obsessed with pops of color.  Gemstones like malachite and turquoise are her latest muses, which she has set into a few ring creations so far.  I luckily got a chance to see those as well!  The opaque colors of the gems mixed with yellow gold remind her of the 1960s/70s, a time period that is a design inspiration for her.

Mary Ray Jewelry is currently sold at By George, Austin's favorite high fashion store, and Manika Jewelry in San Francisco, a highly-curated store that truly caters to both designers and customers.  She studied at the highly-acclaimed Revere Academy of Jewelry Arts in San Francisco and has been growing both personally and professionally ever since. Her favorite highlight so far in her career was having the opportunity to design eight very custom and special pairs of earrings for Sandra Bullock and her friends and family! Ms. Bullock became a fan of Mary's after purchasing a ring of hers at By George. With hopes of many more moments like that, Mary Ray is excited to launch her e-commerce site very soon, where purchasing her designs can be easy and done from anywhere!  Can't wait to see more from her!

>>  If any of the pieces seen here catch your attention, feel free to email for further details.


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Gem Gossip Visits Shaesby in Austin, TX

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Shaesby's design studio is a very special place.  Behind the large wooden door lies a jewelry design space unlike any other which Shaesby has created as his oasis, filled with inspiration at every turn.  The modern, two-story building is surrounded by a serene koi pond and succulents, and gives off an ultra-cool vibe.  From the outside, one would not realize the extent of jewelry creation that is taking place on the inside!  From concept to reality and everything in between--that's what goes down here!  Let's take it from there...

The top floor design studio Shaesby calls his own is very inspiring.  The sunlight floods the room, where trinkets from his extensive travels and mood boards abound.  Faceted gemstones and a sketchbook lie open where ideas have just been formed.  The common area on the top floor is a workspace where the open design concept encourages collaboration and working together.  A large table front-and-center acted as a beautiful display where Shaesby's pieces were laid out.  Rings that were fresh off the polishing wheel were set up side-by-side with ones that were 10 years old in design--a statement to the kind of jewelry Shaesby creates, timeless and forever fun.  I enjoyed my time at the table playing, stacking and mixing.  From bold cocktail rings to thin stackables, juicy, colorful gemstones to small, sparkly diamonds--it is all there!  The long-hanging earrings in Shaesby's collection have me convinced he is the master at designing the most flattering dangles of them all. They are also conveniently light on wear so they can be an everyday staple.  His studs are also cool--allowing for stacking multiple piercings.  The Cielo Marquise bracelet and the Cypress Oval bangle were incredibly comfortable and easily a favorite.  

If you head downstairs, this portion of the design studio is where everything is created, or some might like to say, "where the magic happens."  Several jeweler's benches all in a row, a laser welder sits at the helm, along with a shelf of potent solutions and chemicals.  A walk down the hallway leads you to a polishing room, where we got a rare demonstration of the lost wax method of jewelry design, which involved fire, blazing hot temperatures, crucibles, and quenching.  It was amazing to watch and also realize the incredible capability of having every step of the jewelry making process at your fingertips.  Each piece of jewelry is handcrafted in the Shaesby studio to ensure the highest level of quality--from casting and hand forging, to stone setting and welding, every production step occurs here.  When ordering a piece, it is designed for you, in a made-to-order fashion.  This is a rare thing in today's world.  

I had such a fun visit to the Shaesby studio and loved every minute.  If any of the pieces above catch your eye and you would like more information, check out their website or email for details!