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{ECO GIFT GUIDE} for the Jewelry Hoarder

Merl Kinzie

I think Mother Nature knew how hard I was taking the winter season already, because while it's December 1st, she's been giving us Chicagoans some pretty balmy 45-50 degree weather the past few days [update: it's back to midwest frigid business today with a steamy 21 degrees outside]. It's been enough to fool me into thinking the holidays are NOT RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER. As a jewelry designer + eco stylist, my plate is fuller than Thanksgiving seconds around this time of year. I just finished my new jewelry line [!!]and am gearing up to start cranking out orders this afternoon, plus we have the December Pop Up Shop at the shudio in just two short weeks with a very special Canadian guest bringing loads of amazing vintage [IT'S JENTINA!! ..I can't keep secrets. more on that collab next week!] PLUS delicious and unique essential oil fragrances with magical aromatherapy benefits from The Collective P L U S my full jewelry collections + some extra sparkly OOAK creations sure to make even the ugliest Xmas sweater preen! December is gearing up to be a busy one folks.

On the topic of shopping for this holiday season, I'm compiling a series of Eco Concious Gift Guides for those special kittens in your life. I'll have one for the Minimalist Ladies, the Bold Babes, the Hostess with the Mostest and those Folks who be Nesting [aka staying inside out of the freezing cold as much as possible. I also call them smart kids.] First up though, we have a round up of some of my favorite Chicago jewelry designers! I've been here for 4 years now, and I have to say that so far, the jewelry community has been one of the most welcoming. Every lady I meet is not only stylish as shit, but insanely hard working and gracious to boot. We all love what we do, and the long hours, perpetually chipped nails and dry, sore hands are worth it when our customers love our products. I also wanted to start off the gift guides with them, because many pieces can take a few days to a week of production which means GET YOUR ORDERS IN NOW IF YOU WANT TO SEE THEM IN TIME. Just a friendly warning from me to you :)

To begin, we have Shades of Grey + Mineralogy Jewelry, by Attalie Dexter and Theresa Cowan respectively. My descriptions of each brand are going to get real repetitive real quick because there's only so many words that mean 'an alarming amount of adoration and love' to describe everyone's designs, but I'll try my best. Attalie uses unique, vintage components in her designs like those sassy black sequins, but her designs also remain chic and minimal, perfect for wearing every damn day. The gorgeous minerals and stones Theresa employs in her jewelry are the perfect organically shaped counterparts to her semi precious + precious metals. She handcrafts creative, statement pieces like that fabulous necklace, but also high quality delicate pieces that will become a part of your daily wardrobe in no time.

{Shades of Grey necklace + earrings // Mineralogy earrings + necklace}

I'm always a happy kitten when either Meghan or Lindsay are in the metalsmith studio not only because they are pretty rad and unfairly beautiful babes, but because I love seeing their pieces literally come to life under their skilled hands. The former, Ms Lorenz utilizes vintage and new brass as well as poppy accents like ruby red and midnight black onyx and mangesite beads in her art deco meets sharp geometric meets 100% modern designs. Lindsay also crafts with the metal closest to my heart [brass] juxtaposed with lots of natural beauties like those raw quarts spires and perfectly matched turquoise cabochons pictured. I especially love the how she pushes her jewelry into the 3D realm with her angular cone necklaces complete with mystic crystals nested inside.

{Cities in Dust necklace + cuff // Lindsay Lewis necklace + earrings}

Two hardworking, metal manipulating ladies who are also present + former members of the illustrious metalsmith club at Benches: Sarah Shikama + Nicole Jo Melton. Shikama's elegant and minimal designs somehow evoke both a strong warrior woman aesthetic while seeming right at home on the classiest, most refined woman you've met. Not to imply those women couldn't be the same person.. but really, I could picture She-ra rocking the same necklace from the battlefield to a ball for superheroes that night. I don't remember a cartoon episode of the latter, but it could happen. Nicole's jewelry has a definite antique emphasis while being designed for the thoroughly 21st century woman. I have the utmost respect for the strict standards for the origins of the materials she crafts with. Not only is every intricate piece meticulously made entirely by hand, but it has an additional story thanks to the detailed history Melton has garnered about every stone she sets. I equate her designs to wearing actual vintage, and the life the garments have already lived.. and will continue to tell in their new life with you.

{SSHIKAMA earrings + necklace // Knot & Splice unisex ring + turquoise ring}

Rounding out the list, we have the darling Michelle Starbuck and some clyde's // REBIRTH brand.. Don't know how that last one snuck on this illustrious list! Heh. I actually own a few pieces from Miss Starbuck, as she also sources those magical vintage brass components for her designs that we all know and froth at the mouth over. I love seeing both her wholesale hauls from the magical deadstock warehouses, but more so I love seeing how her creative mind comes up with the quirky yet so wearable you don't know why they aren't already around your neck/wrist/ears already designs. I'm pretty sure that moon lariat number should be mine immediately. Lastly, you know I had to add my new collection to the list. Shameless, but necessary because my cats have a wet food addiction. Or prescription in Clyde's sake. There's still the vintage deadstock pieces you've come to expect and appreciate, but I've also branched out into crafting with recycled, sourced in the US o A metals like brass [duh], sterling silver and gold fill. Quick note for the kittens unfamiliar with gold fill.. unlike gold plated, which will eventually rub off into the mystery of the atmosphere, the gold is actually bonded to the metal and thus will never tarnish nor dull. Magic right? While I go gaga over vintage components from the late 60's to early 80's, there's something to be said for being able to create my own shapes and lines. I know I say this about all my babies, but this line is really a piece of my heart and I hope you kittens love them as much as I do!

{Michelle Starbuck hexagon necklace + moon lariat + moon chandelier necklace // CR wave bangles + transforming rings}

And there we have it for the first Eco Concious Gift Guide! I could wax poetic about these gals and their designs for many more paragraphs, but let's keep it reasonable, eh? While the crap at F21 may be significantly cheaper, do yourself, your pocketbook and these women a favor and support quality handmade goods from hardworking folks for all your holiday gifting. Not only will the pieces last decades longer than the other ish in your wardrobes, but the impact you make on their lives by supporting their work is incalculable. Unless you're talking about jaw breaking smiles, because those will rank somewhere in the 1029470912864 range.

Be back tomorrow with the Minimalist Guide!