What inspired you to start making fine jewelry 20 years ago?
My passion for jewelry making goes back to when I was very young. I used to make earrings and necklaces when I was a child, and then as a teenager I made more intricate pieces with fine wire and beads. I studied film-making in college and my first year in NYC started editing film trailers. But, I was missing the hands on satisfaction I had from creating jewelry. I still worked with beads and wire but I wanted to expand my knowledge and scope. I started taking metalsmithing classes at different schools in the evenings and on weekends. After a few years I stumbled upon wax carving and never looked back. I really enjoy the entire process wax allows, I find my work flow with it to be very organic and natural. I actually feel a connection with both film-making and jewelry as the process of making jewelry to the finished product is just the start of the story; the wearer continues it as it can become an expression of their own inner values and feelings.
Describe your design process.
I love to look for inspiration in the environment around me. I have found so many ideas from things found in nature. It's amazing the textures that can be seen in plants, ocean life, sand, and all living things. I particularly enjoy the photos of Karl Blossfeldt who did such an incredible job photographing plants and living things. He believed that the plant should be valued as an artistic and architectural structure. I look to his photos for inspiration as well. Most often I start all my designs by first sketching ideas of what it is that I want to start creating. Then I start carving the pieces with wax, or start forming soft wax to achieve the look I want. From this wax I make a model and mold.
In the past 20 years of making jewelry what changes have you seen in the industry?
I have found that the awareness for environmentally friendly practices has grown immensely. From casters using recycled and reclaimed metals to more resources to find ethically sourced stones- the change has been immense. Also, as the price of gold has soared, people have been pulled more toward delicate pieces that they can combine with something they have already or acquire later. I have always been attracted to dainty and delicate jewelry so I have found that change to be really rewarding.
What do you enjoy most about being a jewelry designer?
I really enjoy working with my hands and coming up with a creation from scratch. It is so much fun to take the time to explore an idea and form it into something that can be kept for generations to come. I love to design engagement rings and wedding rings. I find it to be so rewarding to be part of a process in making something that is so meaningful for an individual and a couple. I love that they can have a one of a kind creation that holds significance for the love and admiration they have for one another. I am always honored when someone approaches me to work on a custom ring for their wedding or engagement. Jewelry can hold so much meaning for people, and to be able to make something that someone identifies with and cherishes is very special to me whether it is a wedding ring or an everyday piece that they love to wear.
What is next for Lulu and Shay?
I definitely would love to expand the reach of my brand and grow Lulu and Shay's retail presence both online and in stores. Also, in the past couple of years I have started to focus more on engagement and wedding rings. I find that I am being 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. My hope is that people who wear Lulu and Shay pieces feel more connected to their environment and world. I find that there isn't enough of that represented in Men's jewelry and I hope to make more everyday pieces for men as well.