Posts filed under ‘Designing Jewelry’

Designs on You

The  Style section of the Washington Post had an article called, “Designs on You: Local Fashion Pros Talk about Making It Big Right Here at Home.” Here are designers’ stories from that article I thought you might be interested in.

Mojee Shokri, 28, McLean:

What: Mojee Designs turns out fancy (but not fussy) necklaces, bracelets and earrings fashioned from bold 18-karat gold and semi-precious stones.

Inspiration: Each piece is one of a kind, and many of them are designed for a particular client, which means Shokri has a different muse for each. “I try to feel the style and fashion inside my client, and make something just for her.”

How She Did It: The native of Iran hit on jewelry design more than seven years ago through a designer friend. It combined her artistic streak with a desire to run her own business. She goes on buying trips to Iran every few months for stones and gold, and does most of the fabrication in her basement studio.

Advice: A designer just starting out has to knock on doors – literally, Shokri says. When she began, she honed in on a gallery in Georgetown, known for it’s collection of high-end but unstuffy jewelry, as a perfect venue for her pieces. “I loved the store, so one day I just showed up with my things,” she says. Now, the gallery regularly sells out of her work.

Signature Style: Shokri’s statement-y tassel necklace features moonstones, faceted citrines and mixed-metal accents. $1,980.

Look at her designs at:

Danielle Insetta, 31, Bethesda:

What: Sixties fashion icon Penelope Tree would look perfectly at home in the candy-colored necklace, bracelets and earrings Insetta crafts for her label, Circasixtythree.

Inspiration: The colors and shapes of vintage Lucite dictate her designs, says Insetta, who will become smitten with a particular specimen from her trove of nearly 1,000 pounds of beads, then tinker around with combinations to highlight it. “I like sticking to the aesthetic of the era,” she says of her 1960s materials. “And I really like crazy color combinations.”

How She Did It: When Insetta came across a box of vintage plastic beads at a Parisian flea market, she decided to trade a career in finance for one in design. She took a few jewelry design classes and launched her label. Now she’s turning out about 50 pieces a week and selling to local boutiques as well as French and Japanese department stores.

Advice: Insetta relies on networking through the Internet and through friends to team up with other creative types: She met the graphic artist who designed her sales materials on MySpace and recruited the barista at her neighborhood coffee shop to model her work. “Working with people who are just starting out, too, is great,” she says. “They’re often less expensive, and they’re really ambitious.”

Signature Style: A navel-grazing necklace of vintage Lucite hoops and brassy gold plate typifies Insetta’s aesthetic: vibrant hues, chunky lines and a mod sensibility. $98.



September 27, 2009 at 9:17 pm Leave a comment

Are you a “Monochromatic Mary?”

When I began beading, I was a little afraid of color.  I tended to choose beads that were monochromatic.   I still see this with my students, even though I’ve moved on to embrace color combinations that would have made me go running when I first began!

How was I able to branch out to combining coral with purple and smoky topaz with aqua?  The first thing is just experience – the more you work with beads and see the marvelous combinations, the more daring you will become.  The other thing was a concious effort on my part to look at how color combinations worked.  For instance, take a look at fabric.

You might see fabric that combines red, yellow and green.   It’s obvious that they “work” together – but why?  Here is a great resource that explains color theory in a concise way:

The main thing, in my opinion, is the “value” of the hues is compatible – that is, the colors are compatible either in the saturation or intensity of the hue (bright green with bright red, for instance, not bright red with olive green) or the colors are analogous, or in the same color range (pale yellow, yellow-green, green.)  The analogous colors can be monochromatic, but not necessarily so.

Observe your world.  Take a look at how colors combine around you – in nature, in a painting, on a piece of fabric.  You will be surprised to see how beautifully some combinations work – amethyst and citrine for example, turquoise and coral.  Have a little fun!

donnaThis necklace was designed by Donna Ryan-Kocun, who teaches color theory.  (And is a close personal friend of mine:))

June 4, 2009 at 5:41 pm Leave a comment

Jeanette’s Wedding Jewelry

When my niece Jeanette got engaged, she came to me for the wedding party jewelry. Jeanette had a little antique boutique, and she had set aside a few vintage faux-pearl necklaces which she originally intended to use as her bridesmaids’ jewelry. She decided instead to do something a little funkier and fun.

She brought the necklaces into my store.  I placed them on a tray and asked her to put everything on the tray that appealed to her.  In the end we had a nice palette of ivory, peach, grey and bronze.  Her picks included some smoky topaz cubes, peach freshwater pearls and coco-colored faux pearls.  I added some Swarovski crystal rondelles and some rhinestone “disco ball” beads.

Using the findings from the vintage pieces, and incorporating the vintage pearls, I made the bridesmaids 3 strand necklaces.  Each strand incorporated a color – peach, white or smoky/bronze, and the necklaces were able to be worn either with the strands laying upon the neck, or twisted.  Each one was completely different.

The maid-of-honor didn’t want a necklace, she wanted a bracelet, so I designed a “porcupine” bracelet of hundreds of drops of stacked beads which were then strung with pearls in between every 3 drops.

I was thrilled that all the bridesmaids (and my niece) liked their jewelry, and with the black dresses they wore, it looked great.  They each had a unique piece which could be worn thereafter without looking like “wedding jewelry!”


October 9, 2008 at 9:23 pm 1 comment

What Size Should I make it?

I live near many senior communities, and usually have older people in my classes.  Quite often, they want to make jewelry for their granddaughters.  But what size bracelet do you make for  9 year old? What should the necklace length be?   Here is a useful chart for determining your necklace and bracelet lengths, for adults as well as children.





3-1/4 inches

6-1/2 inches


3-1/2 inches

7 inches

3-6 months

4 inches

8 inches

6-12 months

4-1/2 inches

9 inches

12-24 months

5 inches

10 inches

2-5 years

5-1/2 inches

11 inches

6-8 years

6 inches

12 inches

9-13 years

6-1/2 inches

13 inches

Adult Small

7 inches

14 inches

Adult Medium

7-1/2 inches

15 inches

Adult Large

8 inches

16 inches

Adult X-Large

8-1/2 inches

17 inches

May 11, 2008 at 3:16 pm 2 comments

Kathy’s Take

One of my readers, Kathy, sent me a picture of a great necklace which she designed. I loved the story behind it, because this has happened to me! She offered to make a friend a necklace for her birthday, and the friend responded by presenting Kathy with a picture of a $200 necklace in a magazine. Now you know if you have ever tried to replicate a necklace from a magazine or catalog, it ain’t easy. The reason for this is simple: the jewelry made for catalog or other jewelry companies has components which have been designed and manufactured for that company only, and therefore are not available on the open market. That’s why you can search forever and not find a particular clasp, shape bead, etc. But a little inspiration, imagination and ingenuity will give you something just as nice, and also something you can call your own!

Kathy says, “It’s very heavy, and was a good lesson in sizing for the person you’re making it for and relative weight of stones and crystals vs. resin or wood….not sure either pic is worth putting up just because of the photo quality. I AM proud of the necklace however!

“I made my own version of (the necklace), having invested in some chunk turquoise and a string of turquoise nuggets, glass beads, other real semi-precious stones and some great silver. Wish I could find the picture of the original I derived it from!”

I think Kathy did a superb job!  You can click on the thumbnails to see details.



February 1, 2008 at 4:18 pm Leave a comment


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