Tell us about yourself, including what inspired you to start Original Eve Designs?
I started Original Eve Designs three years ago after working at Tiffany & Co. in education and luxury sales training, in museum and auction house settings, as well as managing jewelry production for small designers and purchasing estate jewelry from the public. I have always known that I wanted to start my own business, but I didn’t know what it would be until I jumped in with two feet, saying yes to everything and anything that came my way.
I have been fortunate enough to be able to follow my passions and learn as much as I can in schools and on the job. I have always felt that if I am not learning, I should be moving onto the next topic and position. I think I got to a certain point where I just wanted more of a challenge and to have more control over the successes and failures I experienced in my work.
With a Graduate Gemology Degree from GIA, a Master’s in Fine Art in Jewelry from Tyler School of Art, and a Bachelor’s in Art History from Williams College, I started Original Eve making custom fine jewelry, creating collections, and writing about jewelry for myself and as a ghostwriter for various industry professionals. Original Eve has been a wonderful marriage of my skills and passions. And, I have to say, running my own business has been an incredible learning experience. I have yet to have a boring day (or even a quiet day) since I started!
Tell us about your design style and what makes it unique.
I love telling stories through the jewelry I create, whether it is the story of two individuals falling in love in a custom piece or a transformation of a landscape into a wearable piece of art, which you see in my solid gold pieces. I infuse my jewelry with meaning that goes beyond first glance.
I am also really excited by unique gemstones and want the stones I use to take center stage. In my Amazon Collection, I use individually selected gems that have unique coloration, forms, or inclusions that tell the story of where they are from and change your expectations for what makes a gemstone precious. I hope the way I set and use gemstones surprises people and gives them an opportunity to look more closely at each stone as a piece of natural art, just as you would look at a landscape.
As a creative and a designer, where do you draw inspiration from?
There is a bit of a backstory to my collection concept. I started thinking about “site-specific art” when I was in college. I wrote my senior Art History thesis at Williams College on a sculpture by George Segal that was made for Kent State to memorialize the Kent State Shootings. The sculpture was rejected by the school and later acquired by Princeton, where it has no social relevance as it captures the moment and feeling of an entirely different time and place.
Fast forward to my graduate work at Tyler where my Master’s thesis examined creating large, couture, 3D printed wearable sculptures that told the story of places I had traveled and attempted to encapsulate the entire experience of a place in a single work. I made a deteriorating bangle composed of headless guardians representing the palpable sadness of Cambodia. My Argentina piece was a colorful, mirrored, monolithic bracelet that showed the endless landscapes that reflected in glacial lakes, making the beginning and the end of tangible reality impossible to decipher. And the only precious piece I made in graduate school was the piece I made to represent my home, created from melting broken silver pieces that were the tableware we used as I was growing up.
My interactions with distilling place never really ended. When I started Original Eve, I decided to continue with this concept and try to summarize places in collections that would allow me to reflect on the most striking elements of each location. Peru focuses on the terraced land that creates ribbons of shadow and light around the mountains, represented in wave or flame forms in high polished gold. The Azores Collection captures the crater lakes at the peaks of lush, green volcanoes emerging from the sea in organic, textured forms that either remain open or hold gemstones that play with light like water. Amazon borrows the motifs of jungle leaves and the concept of secret layers in pieces that celebrate unique gemstones, lush, rich materials, and organic forms.
What do you feel is the most important aspect of designing and making jewelry?
Wearability. Anything can look beautiful, but jewelry is the art we wear. For that reason, designers need to think about how it feels to wear the jewelry. It must be comfortable, be able to survive the wear and tear of daily life, and bring joy when it is put on and taken off.
Beyond wearability, jewelry needs to last. I pride myself on creating quality jewelry that will last a lifetime.
What new things (designs, etc.) do you have planned for 2020?
I am very excited to be showing for the first time at the American Gem Trade Association’s Tucson Gemfair in February. It has been my favorite trade show to attend for years and where I buy a lot of my gemstones. I am thrilled to be displaying my work. Beyond that, you will just have to wait and see!
Who are your favorite designers?
I think this changes daily. I have always loved sculpture and the work of Ursula Von Rydingsvard, George Segal, and Richard Serra. I love impressionist paintings, as well as crude wood carvings and metalwork. I would say my taste is pretty eclectic.
What’s your favorite piece you’ve ever created?
This is a really hard question. I don’t know if I have a favorite piece, but there have been pieces I have made that inspired me to keep going or made me particularly proud. Some of them are kind of silly to think about now, like the trinkets I made for family members as a kid, but I guess what makes anything memorable to me is how much I learned from them. Harder pieces that push my skills are always more important to me.
What, if anything, would you want customers to know about you and your brand?
I love jewelry and gemstones. My favorite part of my job is educating my clients about jewelry and gemstones. If there is ever a question about a gemstone, the process of creating a piece, or the history of the field, I am more than happy to talk on end about it! (And won’t be offended when told to stop spewing!)
What is the favorite travel destination you have been too?
My first international trip was to France the week after I learned how to walk and I have been lucky to continue to travel ever since. I have been all over the world from Nepal to Israel, Petra in Jordan to Patagonia, The Galapagos, Iceland, Vietnam, and on and on. Despite all of that, my favorite place to go is the farming and fishing town in Massachusetts where I grew up. There is nowhere more beautiful.
Where is your next bucket-list travel destination?
I am itching to go to South Africa. I’d also like to spend some time out west in the National Parks. New Zealand would be nice. Maybe Bali?! Who’s coming with me?
What is your top travel tip?
Always pack a set of clothes and the things you will need during your first day in your carry-on. There is nothing worse than finding out the airline lost your bag and the only thing you have to wear are snow boots and jeans when you land in tropical weather.
What is your top tip for creating balance in your life?
Say, “No”. It’s easy to say yes, get involved, and quickly become overcommitted. Unless you create the space you need by maintaining boundaries, it’s impossible to find balance. (This is definitely something I need to work on!).