Alex Sepkus Jewelry: Each Design is a Chapter

“When I design a piece of jewelry, it is as if I am writing a book.”

Featured jewelry designer Alex Sepkus draws his inspiration from unexpected places. He cited his greatest sources of inspiration not as other jewelry, but as music and great literary works. “When I design a piece of jewelry, it is as if I am writing a book,” he said in an interview,  “Each design is a chapter, not in words, but in shapes and textures.”

Alex Sepkus little windows earrings, available at the Squash Blossom.
Alex Sepkus little windows earrings, available at the Squash Blossom.

Born in Lithuania, Sepkus studied industrial design with the intention of following in his father’s footsteps as an architect.  In his spare time he would carve miniature sculptures.  Under communism, he did not have access to precious materials.  Instead, he created his pieces with engraved stones, carved ivory and enamel painting.  This was the foundation of his unique artistic style, which would develop more and more as he started to create pieces of jewelry.

Sepkus immigrated to the United States in 1988. By the early 1990’s, he had opened Alex Sepkus Jewelry Studios in Manhattan with gemologist Jeff Feero.  Together they found, and continue to find, unusual and exceptional stone specimens to accompany the intricate designs that have become the signature of Alex Sepkus Jewelry.

Alex Sepkus Boulder Opal earrings, available at the Squash Blossom.
Alex Sepkus Boulder Opal earrings, available at the Squash Blossom.

This signature, however, comes at a cost; Sepkus’s jewelry is a product of great effort.  “I have no technical secrets,” he said.  “The main trick is the very intricate manual work that goes into the process.  I can explain the process to everybody.  But at the same time, I don’t think that I have ever seen a copy of my work somewhere.  It is just so labor intensive.”

An owner of a Sepkus piece can see and feel the intense hand-crafted process by which the piece was made.  Each piece has unique magnificence that highlights creativity and ingenuity–a piece that is a product of hard work and, not to mention, is fashionable.  What’s more surprising is that his designs are not premeditated, giving them a raw edge.

Alex Sepkus diamond eternity band, available at the Squash Blossom.
Alex Sepkus diamond eternity band, available at the Squash Blossom.

“I stopped making sketches years ago,” Sepkus said.  “I imagine the piece I want to make in my head, and the hands work by themselves.  Sometimes I get surprised at what comes out.”

Interested in owning a unique piece of Alex Sepkus jewelry yourself?  Stop into the Squash Blossom in Vail or check out our website to see a diverse collection of Sepkus’s work.

ILA: Embracing Heritage through Jewelry

There’s something unique about the character of ILA jewelry that draws in those who wear it.  It is simple, yet it appears ornate.  It is delicate, yet it makes a statement.  Part of the magic of ILA, lies in the story behind its creators, and the passion with which they design their jewelry.

Ila Draksharam and her brother, Vikas Sodhani, started the popular jewelry line out of their shared desire to return to their family’s roots. Draksharam had worked closely with her mother, who had graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology (F.I.T), from a young age.

Ila and Vikas
Ila Draksharam and Vikas Sodhani, founders of the jewelry line ILA.

Throughout her childhood she was exposed to textiles and jewelry, and in her adulthood she spent eight years designing high-end diamond jewelry with her mother and father.  Sodhani followed a much different path.  After graduating from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T), he pursued a career in engineering.  However, he always had a fascination with design and shortly after graduating he left engineering and went to India, home of his family’s ancestors.  Here, he spent a year training in Indian design houses and hand fabrication shops.  Draksharam later met up with him in hopes of developing a shared vision to embrace their family’s heritage.

This heritage traces to Rajasthan, geographically the largest state in India, which houses the vast Thar desert.  Rajasthan has a long history from ancient civilizations to medieval tribes to modern empires.  The area comprises of astonishing architecture, known as Maru-Gurjara architecture, that is highlighted in large temples and palaces.  Umaid Bhawan Palace, in the city of Jodhpur, is one of the largest palaces in the world.  Its structure and design exemplifies the intricate and handcrafted nature of the Maru-Gurhara architecture that inspires ILA.

Umaid Bhawan Palace in Jodhpur, Rasjasthan, India
Umaid Bhawan Palace in Jodhpur, Rasjasthan.

“Growing up, our family would travel back to Rajasthan to visit our ancestral residence, known as a ‘Haveli,'” the design team explains,  “It has stood for over 200 hundred years and seen the birthing of our father, his father and the rest of our paternal ancestors.  The Haveli has stood through a number of different rulers and eras, and captures the rich history and cultural traditions of India.  It is a place enchanted by history, mysticism and beauty.”

ILA Devin earrings in 14 kt gold, turquoise and labradorite
ILA Devin earrings in 14 karat gold, turquoise and labradorite, available at the Squash Blossom.

In addition to the structural designs of Rajasthan, designers would paint ornate frescoes onto walls of buildings.  Often, they would depict scenes from mythology in bright colors and stones.

Draksharam and Sodhani described the paintings found in their own ancestral Haveli: “Most stunning were the frescoes that lined the open-air courtyard in the center of the grand house.  As children, our grandfather would recount tales of ancient Indian mythology that were painted in the frescoes dotting the meticulously detailed archways that connected one edifice to another.

A fresco painted for a Haveli in Rajasthan. The shapes, colors, and inlaid stones gave the ILA designers inspiration for their jewelry.
A fresco in a Haveli in Rajasthan. The shapes, colors, and inlaid stones inspired ILA’s designers.

Each edifice was carved with the most skilled hand to tell stories of long ago.  The carvings were adorned with inlaid stones, and it seemed the jewelers truly did the detailing in the building.”

In creating ILA, Draksharam and Sodhani aimed to put as much careful thought and meaning into their jewelry as the jewelers did in the Havelis in Rajasthan.  However, in order to enable modern people from all over the world to wear their jewelry daily, they simplify their designs.  While retaining the impact of Indian artistry, their jewelry expounds on the simple beauty of one design detail.

Noemi sapphire necklace by ILA, available at the Squash Blossom
ILA Noemi sapphire necklace in 14 karat gold and sapphire, available at the Squash Blossom.

“Those trips to India created a foundation of appreciation for minute details, beautiful stones, handwork and curved lines. We learned that together those elements told a story in themselves,” they remarked.  “Some 15 years later, after a long trip through India, we came together from opposite ends of the country to create ILA in hopes of capturing a part of our family’s heritage that we saw and imagined together.”

 

 

ILA jewelry is available at the Squash Blossom.  Visit our collection here.

Sarah Graham Metalsmithing: Back to Nature

Last winter, jewelry designer Sarah Graham made a move as bold as her jewelry line.  Growing restless in her current studio location, San Francisco, she headed to Colorado in search of inspiration.  What she intended to be a temporary retreat in the mountains turned into a significant life-change.

“I decided to take some time to indulge in wanderlust with my family this [past] winter. I allowed myself to ‘get lost’ in nature, and in no time at all, inspiration found me!”  Graham said.  Shortly after her time in the mountains, Graham decided to move to Colorado permanently.  She now resides just outside of Aspen.  “Spending time with my family, and time in the outdoors, has given me a chance to develop a new and innovative collection.”

Sarah Graham Aspen earrings, available by special order at the Squash  Blossom.
Sarah Graham Aspen earrings, available by special order at the Squash Blossom.

The stark contrast of the spots on the bark of aspen trees inspired her new collection, the appropriately titled “Aspen” line. Working in 18 karat yellow, white, and rose gold, as well as her signature blackened cobalt chrome, “Aspen” seeks to reflect the same color variations as the trees that are so plentiful in Colorado.

“The quiet, yet magnificent, glory of the Aspen tree overwhelmed me,” Graham reflected, “The beauty of the Aspen tree gets more intense with time. It can only be obtained by years of growth and exposure to the elements. As with my own journey, the beauty of my jewelry increases with time and exposure to life.”

Sarah Graham Aspen ring, available by special order at the Squash Blossom.

Graham’s life-inspired designs and textures highlight how beauty, in its many forms, can be found all around us.  Her innovative use of metals blends nature with creativity, giving her fans and collectors from all over the country, and especially from Colorado, much to look forward to as she continues to stretch herself as an artist.

See her current collection at the Squash Blossom or visit her website, www.sarahgraham.com.

Getting to Know SARAH GRAHAM

Sarah Graham Headshot

 

Squash Blossom got this exclusive interview with now Colorado-based jewelry designer Sarah Graham.

 

Sarah Graham has created a unique look combining her love of science and her fascination with nature.  Having just moved from San Francisco to Colorado, her natural inspiration varies from the sea to the mountains.  The blackened cobalt chrome in her designs pairs well with 18 karat white, yellow, and rose gold to create an industrial color contrast while celebrating natural textures and shapes.
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Jewelry by Sarah Graham, available at the Squash Blossom Vail

SB:  Was there a turning point in your life that led you to jewelry design?
SG: It was just after my college graduation, and I just taken an entry level job at a brokerage house. I wandered into a jewelry store/pawn shop to inquire about having a piece of jewelry made for a sister’s Christmas gift. The process brought me back to the store a half a dozen times, and by the end I had quit my job to wash the jewelers windows in exchange for jewelry making lessons. Fortunately he moved me to manager within a couple months, and Saturdays were spent learning the basics at the bench.

Sarah Graham’s Munsteiner Rutilated Quartz Pendant and Cuff

SB:  Is there a piece that you sold that you wish you had kept for yourself?

SG:  I used to exhibit alongside Altelier Munstiener, the famous German stone cutter. One year I went a little crazy and bought some truly amazing stones without a clue of what I would do with them. I showed them to one of my best clients and he commissioned me to make a gorgeous cuff for himself and a pendant for his daughter. The stones were both remarkable rutilated quartz, and almost impossible to repeat – the cross in particular – I have been searching for another for years to no avail…but they are in a good home where they are appreciated, so that makes me happy!

SB:  What do you consider to be your greatest achievement to date?

SG:   Creating a job for myself that I truly love and still feel passionate about.

  Designs by Atelier Zobel, available at the Squash Blossom Vail
SB:  Who is a fellow jewelry designer that you admire?  Why?
SG:   Atelier Zobel, for their fearless and unique approach to design.
SB:  Name 5 things you cannot live without.
SG:
  • Good quality loose leaf green tea
  • A pair of earrings to brighten my face and my mood
  • My Temperpedic mattress
  • A Pilates class at least once a week
  • My son’s smile
Honestly I could live without everything except that last one!
            
SB:  What other career would you pursue if you did not design jewelry?
SG:  I would love to be a writer. I have always been a voracious reader, I appreciate good writing, and enjoy the little bit of writing that my current job requires.  I and am counting on this being my next career when I am too old to make jewelry.  Ideally I will do this from a villa in Italy!

SB:  Finish this statement: When I’m not making/designing jewelry, I am…

SG:  Being a mom to my son, Strummer. This involves lots of time at the park and library. On Thursdays we used to go to a place called Spazio Italiano where we learned Italian together…not surprising, his Italian is much better than mine. Kids learn languages so much more easily than adults!

You can learn more about Sarah Graham at her website. Shop our current collection of her jewelry here.

Jamie Wolf: Dance and Design

Jamie Wolf green amethyst Aladdin earrings, available at the Squash Blossom.
Jamie Wolf green amethyst Aladdin earrings, available at the Squash Blossom.

Jamie Wolf’s life has been anything but stagnant.  She landed her first role with the New York City ballet when she was only eight years old, launching her career as a dancer. As she got older, she worked to become a ballerina, and then prima ballerina, for the New York City Ballet.  She danced for ten years and even made appearances in films such as Black Swan (2010) and Center Stage (2000).  All the while, she was moving toward following her second passion:  jewelry.

Wolf got her start selling jewelry out of her dressing room to her fellow dancers.  And as it has progressed, Wolf’s jewelry has become a massive success. This puts Wolf at having two highly successful careers before middle-age.  In an interview with the Squash Blossom, Wolf said, “I feel very fortunate to have had two careers, dance and jewelry design, that were born of a genuine desire to be creative and follow my passion.”

She has been deemed a “renaissance woman,” and rightly so.  Not many can say their craft has reached so many people in their lifetime, whether through a dance performance, a Hollywood blockbuster, a line of popular jewelry, or otherwise.  However, Wolf does not allow her past successes stunt her growth.  Her collections continue to evolve, maintaining Wolf’s commitment to beautiful, simple, and feminine pieces.

Jamie Wolf Bisou aquamarine and pave diamond ring, available at the Squash Blossom.
Jamie Wolf Bisou aquamarine and pave diamond ring, available at the Squash Blossom.

“In ballet, you’re trained to pay attention to every detail, all while making it look effortless and beautiful,” Wolf stated in an interview with Fashionista, “I believe that femininity is timeless, and that beauty is often found in the finest details. My aim as a designer is to translate this femininity and detail into pieces that are chic and relevant.”

Wolf’s pieces are all handmade in New York City.  You can see our current collection of Jamie Wolf Jewelry here.

Getting to Know JAMIE WOLF

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Jamie Wolf is a woman of many talents, and her fascinating story is communicated clearly in each feminine piece of her expansive jewelry line.  We got this exclusive interview with her.

Shop her most recent collection here.

 

SB:  Describe the first piece of jewelry you made that you were proud of.
JW:  The Engraved Marquis Leaf Earring, which is one of our top selling styles, was one of the first pieces that felt like a branded classic immediately. I had a strong feeling about it — fortunately clients feel the same and often begin their collection with this piece.

SB: Is there a piece that you sold that you wish you had kept for yourself?
JW:  As long as my pieces are in loving hands I’m happy!

SB:  Describe a dream design that you haven’t made yet.
JW:  I am constantly designing and producing new pieces, if there is something that I want to create, it usually happens fairly quickly.

jamie_wolf_jewelry

SB:  What other career would you pursue if you did not design jewelry?
JW:  I feel very fortunate to have had 2 careers, dance and jewelry design, that were born of a genuine desire to be creative and follow my passion. I really have no idea what else I’d pursue!

SB:  Was there a turning point in your life that led you to jewelry design?
JW:  I began designing jewelry while I was still dancing with the New York City Ballet. It was something I always wanted try. It began as a hobby, but organically turned into much more – I got my retail start selling pieces to other dancers in my dressing room!

jamie_wolf_dancing

SB:  Finish this statement: When I’m not making/designing jewelry, I am…
JW:  Relaxing or out enjoying delicious meal with my husband!

SB:  What is your motto?
JW:  You can’t take potential with you.

jamie_wolf_jewelry_stacking_rings

Getting to Know PETER SCHMID

Peter Schmid took over Atelier Zobel, a renowned German design house, and has made the collection all his own.  Squash Blossom got this exclusive interview with him.  

Shop his most recent collection here.

 

SB:  Describe the first piece of jewelry you made that you were proud of?
PS:  My work is engaged with contrast. I really enjoyed this piece because it juxtaposes an ancient Egyptian glass bracelet with a piece of contemporary glass created by Andreas Hochstrasser – I played up the differences between the histories by creating a pattern of 24k gold inlays against looser sketch also in 24k gold. When I rolled the pattern into the piece, the edges of brooch shifted to create a raw uneven edge. I really enjoyed the unintended consequences of the process. For me, there was a lot going on… the discovery of this ancient piece of glass and the conversation between the ancient and the new… and also how my design created a canvas for this conversation in both intended and unintended ways…

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SB:  Who is a fellow designer that you admire? Why?
PS:  Elena Votsi. I like the clearness of her vision. Whether she working large bold forms, or delicate ones, there is a purity to her approach – I appreciate that. And she’s wonderful!

SB:  Name five things you could not live without.

  • The Munsteiners… their talent, their stones, their friendship…
  • Music… Live… but when I’m on my own… I’m playing: Mando Diao, Zero 7 (the simple things), Selah Sue, Sam Smith… Prince…
  • Whisky… it’s about conversation… in my glass is a blended Malt Whisky from Japan – Taketsuru 17 years old.
  • Fab Men’s Shoes… there just aren’t enough… on my feet are United Nude, Niel Barrett and John Fluevog
  • We love to cook and we love people! My wife Sue and I cook all the time, whether we’re sitting with our team on a Wednesday afternoon or drinking a cocktail in our kitchen with friends… great food brings people together – I believe the same applies to jewelry. Both the act of creating the piece as well as the act of gifting the piece creates special memories.

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SB:  Is there a piece that you sold that you wish you had kept for yourself?
PS: We held an exhibition called ‘Mach Neu aus Alt’, loosely translated, ‘Make New from Old’ – (luxury Upcycling) – the idea was that clients should bring ‘dormant’ jewelry to the gallery be ‘awakened’ with a contemporary design. I had a collection of antique brooches that I used to create the piece for the invitation. We created a modern theater for the early 19th century crane … well… you can see the result here… the original brooch can be unscrewed and worn separately in its original form. I would have kept this piece but a someone I admire purchased it for her personal collection – which of course made me even more happy.

SB:  What do you consider to be your greatest achievement to date?
PS:  I aim to create enticing work, because jewelry should always stir our emotions. This distinguishes jewelry from other products, manufactured based on price-points. My work cannot be measured by sales figures, but rather the beauty of a piece is measured by emotional intensity and pleasure. These small works of art, made with the blood of our hearts, often become our clients most beloved objects. When this happens, we know that we have done our work well, both individually, and together as a team.

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SB: What’s your motto?
PS:  I like the word extraordinary. It’s not one of those arty words like banal, or existential that you use to sound smart. It’s quietly states that something, beyond what’s usual expected happened here… We (my team and I) often say that we create extraordinary jewelry for extraordinary people.

Getting to Know BEVERLEY K

The Squash Blossom Interviews Morie Knopp, Founder Of Beverly K. Collection

Featured in June 2016’s edition of the Catalogues

“Since 1999, Beverley K. has been dedicated to crafting exquisite jewelry. Each design celebrates a perfect harmony of gems and precious metals. From lacy, vintage filigree to elegant, modern expression, we offer a variety of rich textures and finishes in bridal rings, wedding bands and fashion jewelry.

SB: Was there a turning point in your life that led you to jewelry design?
MK: I had always dreamed about designing jewelry – from when I can first remember. In 1992, I was working for a large jewelry company at the time, and I had a 160 foot fall down the mountain. I then realized I was mortal, and my time on earth was finite. As soon as I recovered from my fall, I felt the urge to follow my passion with more urgency, and my approach to life was more targeted and insightful.

SB: Name 5 things that you could not live without.
My kids
My pets
My colleagues
My imagination
Giving to others

SB: What do you consider to be your greatest achievement to date?
MK: Running ultra-marathons and raising money for many worthy charitable causes in the process. It taught me so much about guts and inner strength – not just about myself, but more importantly, for the recipients of the money raised. There is so much that people can and should be doing for the less fortunate, and we should be a lot more introspective, and do our utmost to help those less fortunate than ourselves.

SB: Finish this statement: When I’m not making/designing jewelry, I am…
MK: Pushing life to the limits. I am an adrenaline junkie, and I have already jumped from planes, swam with sharks, ziplined from a mountain top – so really anything that makes me feel alive. I also love watching my youngest daughter ply her sport of mounted horse riding – where she rides on horseback, shooting balloons, where accuracy, dexterity and speed are combined with the love of nature.

SB: What do you consider to be your greatest achievement to date?
MK: Running ultra-marathons and raising money for many worthy charitable causes in the process. It taught me so much about guts and inner strength – not just about myself, but more importantly, for the recipients of the money raised. There is so much than people can and should be doing for the less fortunate, and we should be a lot more introspective, and do our utmost to help those less fortunate than ourselves.

SB: Who is a fellow jewelry designer that you admire? Why?
MK: Suvaree Kulkeaw – she is a very under-the-radar designer, but is well known by the connoisseur. She has a great feel for proportion and comfort.

SB: Is there a piece that you sold that you wish you had kept for yourself?
MK: A beautiful sapphire and diamond bracelet that I designed with the intention of giving to my daughter on her 18th birthday. One of our very good clients saw the bracelet, and simply had to have it. He eventually twisted my arm and I sold it to him. Needless to say, I made a more exquisite and elaborate bracelet for my daughters’ birthday.

SB: Name your most treasured possession.
MK: Having my oldest daughter work with me in my business, and see how her very strong design talents are transformed into beautiful jewelry creations.

SB: What is your motto?
MK: As I know that life is short, I have learned to forgive quickly , smile easily , never regret anything , give others more than they expect, and treat others in a manner better than I would like to be treated.

Shop The Squash Blossom in Vail, Colorado for the Beverley K Collection.”

The Squash Blossom

Carla Amorim: Brazil on the Brain

With last summer’s 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio and with several pieces by Brazilian Jewelry designer Carla Amorim new to our store, Squash Blossom continues to have Brazil on the brain.

Carla Amorim at work.
Carla Amorim at work in her studio.
Oscar Niemeyer, famed architect, circa 1968.
Oscar Niemeyer, famed architect, circa 1968.

Carla Amorim began creating jewelry in 1993.  Connectivity truly matters to her in her designs.  “All of my creations belong to the same family and are engraved with my own DNA,” she said in an interview with JewelryEditor.  This gives her pieces a signature “Carla Amorim” look that, once you are familiar with it, you can immediately recognize.

As Amorim continues to grow as a designer, inspiration is key. Her designs draw inspiration from the nature and architecture of her homeland Brazil, where her environment has influenced the lines and three-dimensionality of her work.  At the forefront of this inspiration is Oscar Niemeyer, the late Brazilian architect.  His textures and designs frequently present themselves in her work, as well as the other nature and art of Brazil.

Carla Amorim Peninsula Ring, available at the Squash Blossom.
Carla Amorim Peninsula Ring in 18kt rose gold and milky quartz, available at the Squash Blossom.
Museum of the Eye, designed by Oscar Niemeyer.
Museum of the Eye, designed by Oscar Niemeyer.

Beyond structure, Amorim’s pieces overflow with feeling.  As she puts passion into designing, that passion is reflected in her work.  It is evident not only in her jewelry, but also in her philosophy.  When JewelryEditor asked, “What’s next?”, Amorim replied, “I never plan – things just happen day by day for me. I am thankful and feel blessed by this talent, so I just do my part – I love, I pray, and I work.”

Amorim’s attitude towards life not only is reflected in her pieces, but it is reflected in those who wear her jewelry.  “Every new design I make is a dream come true,” Amorim told the Squash Blossom, “[My philosophy is] work hard and God will bless you.” She shows pride in how far she has come.  Having started her jewelry career in a particularly dark time in her life, she shines brightly now in the light of living out her passion.

Carla Amorim Sagradas Necklace in 18kt gold and diamond, available at the Squash Blossom.
Carla Amorim Sagradas Necklace in 18kt gold and diamond, available at the Squash Blossom.
Renowned Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Renowned Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

 

This summer as you yourself draw inspiration from the warm sun and lovely weather, engulf yourself in the culture of Brazil with the innovative lifestyle jewelry of Carla Amorim, available at the Squash Blossom.

Getting to Know CARLA AMORIM

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Inspired by the music, architecture, and nature of Brazil, Carla Amorim jewelry is bold & feminine in all of the right ways.  Her impeccably crafted collection transports us to a world beyond ourselves, and explores texture in unique and challenging ways.  Your first piece of Carla Amorim jewelry will transform your whole wardrobe.

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SB:  Describe the first piece of jewelry you made that you were proud of.
CA:  My first piece of jewelry designed by me was a Ring, which I named Brasilia, for it reminded me my home town seen from a plane

brasilia ring

SB:  Was there a turning point in your life that led you to jewelry design?
CA:  Yes. I had a severe depression and I decided then that a shift was necessary. That was the beginning of a new life to me.

SB:  Who is a fellow jewelry designer that you admire?  Why?
CA:  I like Sevan! His aesthetic is very different from mine, it´s very east oriented, and I love to admire another point of view.

SB:  Name 5 things that you could not live without.

  • Faith
  • Family
  • Food
  • Beach
  • Work

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SB:  What other career would you pursue if you did not design jewelry?
CA:  I´d be in retail, selling beautiful things. Homeware probably.

SB:  Is there a piece that you sold that you wish you had kept for yourself?
CA:  I guess not…Part of the fun of designing jewelry is being part of somebody else´s life.

SB:  Describe a dream design that you haven’t made yet.
CA:  Easy question!! Every new design I make is a dream come true.

SB:  Finish this statement: When I’m not making/designing jewelry, I am…
CA:  Either eating or sleeping!! lol

carla and kids

SB:  What do you consider to be your greatest achievement to date?
CA:  Raising my kids

SB:  Name your most treasured possession.
CA:  My family!

SB:  What is your motto?
CA:  Work hard and God will bless you