Getting to know IRENE NEUWIRTH

Irene Neuwirth, the famed jewelry designer who has captured the hearts of everyday people and celebrities alike, is known for her creative use of colorful gemstones and fanciful settings.  On any red carpet, you are sure to see some of her pieces.  To get to know her on a personal level a little better, we got this exclusive interview with her in 2014.

SB: Describe the first piece of jewelry you made that you were proud of.
IN:  My 9 drops. Still a classic.
Blue tourmaline ring with 18kt rose gold, available at the Squash Blossom.
SB:  Was there a turning point in your life that led you to jewelry design?
IN:  Yes. When my family sat me down to explain to me that reaching horseback riding was not going to be my future.
SB:  Is there a piece that you sold that you wish you had kept for yourself?
IN:   Yes. My favorite opal necklace.

Green tourmaline bracelet in 18kt yellow gold, available at the Squash Blossom.

SB:  Describe a dream design that you haven’t made yet.

IN:Carved horse necklace. I mean… Why not? It is the year of the horse!

SB:  What other career would you pursue if you did not design jewelry?
IN:  Wow. I don’t know. I really love what I do and feel so incredibly lucky and happy!

SB:  What do you consider to be your greatest achievement to date?
IN:   Ooh. That’s a tough one. Being nominated for a CFDA [Council of Fashion Designers of America] award.

SB:  Name your most treasured possession.
IN:   My Labradoodle. He feels like more of my family though than a possession.
Blue and green tourmaline earrings with white diamonds in 18kt yellow gold, available at the Squash Blossom.

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

  1. My Labradoodle teddy
  2. My facials with Cristina Radu
  3. My dear friends
  4. My career
  5. My wonderful home
SB:  Finish this statement: When I’m not making/designing jewelry, I am…
IN:   Cooking, spending time with friends, walking dog, reading…
SB:  What is your motto?
IN:    Work hard… Nothing comes easy!
See our collection of Irene Neuwirth on our website.

Getting to Know TODD REED

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Todd Reed is a Colorado designer who has championed a movement he calls “Raw Elegance.”

Setting one of a kind naturally colored diamonds in recycled metals, he has been a master of innovation in his Boulder studio for over 20 years.  He gave us this exclusive interview.


SQUASH BLOSSOM:  Was there a turning point in your life that led you to jewelry design?

TODD REED:  I got deep into jewelry design while making leather clothing in Durango, Colorado. I loved making something that someone was going to buy and wear and love and talk about. It was and still is a great feeling.

SB: Describe the first piece of jewelry you made that you were proud of.

TR:  I remember loving this bracelet so much that I made for Krista Messina. This was 1994, maybe. Silver, turquoise, Navajo-style with bezel set cabochons on the piece. Wide tapered cuff.  I really loved that piece.

18 karat rose gold ring with naturally colored diamonds by Todd Reed, available at the Squash Blossom.
18 karat rose gold ring with naturally colored diamonds by Todd Reed, available at the Squash Blossom.

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

TR:  I do not get upset when I sell a piece. I am happy to get the piece into the hands of the true and rightful owner.

SB:  What other career would you pursue if you did not design jewelry?

TR:  If I did not make jewelry I would simply design small objects, make art, design architecture, spend more time with family, and play more golf.

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

TR:   My greatest achievement to date has been the creation of my fabulous daughter. But in the realm of my jewelry business, I’m most excited about building such a unique and innovative company.

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Todd Reed’s studio in Boulder, CO.

SB:  Name your most treasured possession.

TR:   My most treasured possession is my home.

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

TR:   When I am not designing jewelry, I am running the company, spending time with my family or getting outside.

SB:  Who is a historical figure that you identify with?

TR:  I like Henry Ford.  I like when he said, “If I asked people what they wanted, they would have asked for a faster horse.”  I think being an innovator is a great honor and the field of innovation is so fertile, I connect in this way to these other innovators.

SB:  What is your motto?

TR:   If I used a motto it would be something like “Go with passion.”

See more of Todd Reed’s jewelry on our website.

 

 

Rebecca Overmann: Thoughtful Design and Craftsmanship

The Squash Blossom in Vail Village now features San Francisco jewelry designer Rebecca Overmann.

Rebecca Overmann’s jewelry is both simple and unique, showcasing high-quality metals and hand-selected gemstones.  A team of highly-skilled artisans carefully crafts each piece of jewelry in her San Francisco studio. She says, “While I’ve had the honor of working with many fine casters and stone setters through the years, the care and control that we have when it’s done in-house by our own people is irreplaceable.”

The supreme quality of the materials measures up to the supreme quality of the design.  Each detail is meticulously thought through, and each thought shows. But rather than creating jewelry overwrought with busy details, Rebecca Overman fashions refreshingly subtle jewelry, letting the beauty of the materials shine through. Because of its natural feel and its simplicity, it is the kind of jewelry you can wear everyday:  “The goal of Rebecca Overmann jewelry is to create incredibly special pieces for our customers who value thoughtful design and fine craftsmanship.”

Whether for daily wear or special occasion, a gift for someone else or a gift for yourself, you cannot go wrong with a piece of Rebecca Overmann jewelry.

See our current collection on our website.

 

Rebecca Overmann 14kt yellow gold ring with natural diamonds.
Rebecca Overmann 14kt yellow gold ring with naturally colored diamonds.
Rebecca Overmann Stripe Studs
Rebecca Overmann 14kt yellow gold studs with white diamonds.
Rebecca Overmann Crescent Moon Necklace
Rebecca Overmann 14kt yellow gold necklace with naturally colored diamonds.

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.

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.

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 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

Getting to know ANNIE FENSTERSTOCK

New York City based artist, Annie Fensterstock, blends ancient goldsmithing practice with contemporary design to create pieces that are truly unique works of art.  Her pieces range from exquisite hammered wedding bands and diamond engagement rings to intricately hand-woven necklaces with jewel pendants.

SB:  Describe the first piece of jewelry you made that you were proud of.
AF:  I made a necklace in college out of a bunch of fine silver granulated squares, each with a different design, and one gold square.  I ate ramen noodles for a month to pay for the gold square!
Cuffs and pendant by Annie Fensterstock, available at The Squash Blossom in Vail.
SB:  Was there a turning point in your life that led you to jewelry design?
AF:  I took my first jewelry class during my sophomore year at the University of Michigan and immediately declared Metalwork and Jewelry Design as my major!
 
SB:  Who is a fellow jewelry designer that you admire?  Why?
AF:  My cousin Lauren Fensterstock is amongst the most talented artists I know.  She does some jewelry, as well as larger scale installation and work, using materials such as paper, charcoal and plexiglass.  Her work is powerful and beautiful, and pulls the viewer into her world of shadowy gardens and dark secrets.
 
SB:  Name 5 things that you could not live without.
AF:  Chocolate, coffee, a pen, a sketchbook, my family. . . not necessarily in that order!

 

Some of Annie’s life essentials.
SB:  Is there a piece that you sold that you wish you had kept for yourself?
AF:  No, my jewelry becomes much more meaningful to me when someone else is wearing and enjoying it.

SB:  What other career would you pursue if you did not design jewelry?
AF:  Children’s book illustration.

SB:  Describe a dream design that you haven’t made yet.
AF:  I’ve been wanting to make a locket with a wrought iron gate that opens up into a dense, lush Alice-in-Wonderland type garden

Locket and illustration by Annie Fensterstock.

SB:  Finish this statement: When I’m not making/designing jewelry, I am…
AF:  Spending time with my family.

SB:  What do you consider to be your greatest achievement to date?
AF:  Doing what I love to do every day

SB:  Name your most treasured possession.
AF:  My grandmother’s paintings.

“Boy With Guitar” and “Storm” by Margit Beck, Annie’s Grandmother.

See more of Annie Fensterstock’s jewelry on our website.

Getting to Know KJ DESIGNS

Katey Jenkins and Jill Koelhoffer of KJ Designs got their start right here at the Squash Blossom in Vail!  Since then, they’ve developed a fun line of high quality and affordable gemstone jewelry that is effortlessly luxurious.
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SB:  Was there a turning point in your life that led you to jewelry design?
KJ:  When we started designing gemstone jewelry for The Squash Blossom.       

SB:  What do you consider to be your greatest achievement to date?
KJ:  Actually it just happened!!! Vail local, Mikaela Shiffrin wore our earrings on the podium as she received her first Olympic gold medal!