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 REBECCA OVERMANN

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The Squash Blossom recently began carrying Rebecca Overmann Jewelry.

Rebecca Overmann designs a line of daily-wear, thoughtfully handcrafted jewelry out of San Francisco.  In order for our followers to get to know her better, we got this exclusive interview.


SQUASH BLOSSOM:  Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions.  Can you describe the first piece of jewelry you made that you were truly proud of?

REBECCA OVERMANN:  This is my favorite bracelet!

 

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SB:  Who is a fellow jewelry designer that you admire?

RO:  Thomas Mann.

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

RO:   Coffee, wine, my dogs, jewelry, pizza.

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

RO:  Private investigator.

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

RO:  The second pair of earrings I ever made. I sold them to my teacher but I miss them.

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

RO:  It’s a secret . . . wait and see!

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

RO:  Drinking wine and eating pizza.

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

RO:  Growing a business–starting by myself sitting at a bench, and growing into a team of the finest people I know.

Learn more about Rebecca Overmann on our blog. Shop our current collection of her jewelry 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.

 

 

Gift Ideas for Everyone on Your List

Buying gifts on special occasions can be difficult, especially when you are unsure about what your loved ones will like.  We at the Squash Blossom recommend jewelry because it is a timeless gift for women and men, young and old.  If you are feeling a little stuck, we have compiled a list of ideas for every price range to take some of the work out of gift-buying.

Women

Under $300

Green amethyst circle cluster pendant by KJ Designs in 14kt gold fill.
Green amethyst circle cluster pendant by KJ Designs in 14kt gold fill for $275.
Twisted oval bracelet in sterling silver by Tezer for $70.
Twisted oval bracelet in sterling silver by Tezer for $70.

$300 – $1,000

Blue opal stud earrings in 14 kt yellow gold by Jamie Joseph for $575
Blue opal stud earrings in 14kt yellow gold by Jamie Joseph for $575.
Crescent necklace in 14kt yellow gold with rose cut colored diamonds for $620.
Crescent necklace in 14kt yellow gold with rose cut colored diamonds for $620.

$1,000 – $3,000

Vine ring in 18kt yellow gold with white diamonds by Jamie Wolf for $1,990.
Vine ring in 18kt yellow gold with white diamonds by Jamie Wolf for $1,990.
Trillion necklace in 18kt white gold with white diamonds by Penny Preville for $2,585.
Trillion necklace in 18kt white gold with white diamonds by Penny Preville for $2,585.

$3,000 – $5,000

Diamond cuff bracelet in 18kt yellow gold and oxidized sterling silver with rose cut and raw cube diamonds for $3,080.
Diamond cuff bracelet in 18kt yellow gold and oxidized sterling silver with rose cut and raw cube diamonds for $3,080.
Platinum band with cabochon sapphires and white diamonds by Alex Sepkus for $4,300.
Platinum band with cabochon sapphires and white diamonds by Alex Sepkus for $4,300.

Over $5,000

18kt rose gold earrings with pink tourmaline and white diamonds by Irene Neuwirth for $8,870.
18kt rose gold earrings with pink tourmaline and white diamonds by Irene Neuwirth for $8,870.
24kt gold necklace with organic shaped aquamarine and labradorite rose cut stones by Gurhan for $22,900.
24kt gold necklace with organic shaped aquamarine and labradorite rose cut stones by Gurhan for $22,900.

Men

Under $300

Alchemy cuff links in sterling silver with inlaid lapis by Stephen Webster on sale for $298.
Alchemy cuff links in sterling silver with inlaid lapis by Stephen Webster on sale for $298.

$300 – $1000

Santiam 5mm ring in sterling silver by Toby Pomeroy for $465.
Santiam 5mm ring in sterling silver by Toby Pomeroy for $465.

$1,000 – $3,000

Cobalt chrome and 18kt yellow gold 7mm band by Sarah Graham for $1,550.
Cobalt chrome and 18kt yellow gold 7mm band by Sarah Graham for $1,550.

$3,000 – $5,000

Green jade 10 mm band by Todd Reed for $3,245.
Green jade 10 mm band by Todd Reed for $3,245.

Over $5, 000

Platinum and 24kt gold 9mm band by Gurhan for $6,800.
Platinum and 24kt gold 9mm band by Gurhan for $6,800.

 

Curious about our other jewelry? The Squash Blossom carries over forty designers from all over the world. Check out our website for more great gift ideas.

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.

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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

Men’s Jewelry Makes a Comeback

 

Todd Reed Cuff
Todd Reed men’s cuff, available by special order at the Squash Blossom.

What with our Todd Reed trunk show this weekend, and an upsurge of requests for men’s bracelets, rings, and cuff links, we at the Squash Blossom have noticed a comeback in men’s jewelry.  While women’s jewelry is still considerably more popular, the men of 2016 seem to be branching into jewelry as a way of expressing their style and individuality.

Michael O’Connor — television spokesperson, celebrity stylist, and image consultant — did a recent interview with The Jewelry Book magazine about today’s men and jewelry. Here is an excerpt:

“One of the most important things men need to realize is that jewelry is an accessory – the most beautiful, important accessory, but still an accessory – socks, belt, tie, pocket square.  Like any of these items, the wearing of jewelry is an extension of who they are as a person and provides and opportunity to express their individuality.

Todd Reed Dog Tag
Todd Reed men’s dog tag, available by Special Order at the Squash Blossom

Throughout history men have always worn fine jewelry.  In the early 1900s, for example, well-dressed gentlemen always had cuff links.  If they were wealthy enough to own a tuxedo, they had a set of shirt studs. Clothing tended to be less varied; these small touches set them apart.

For centuries wearing jewelry has been historical important to men and a signifier of many things:  wealth, status in life, whether married or single, clan, affiliation, brotherhood.  In war, medals were jeweled, enameled, colorful.  They exemplified very masculine ideas of bravery, camaraderie, and patriotism,

After the war, in the 1950s and 60s, jewelry took a horrible hit.  Well-dressed gentlemen still wore cuff links, but in general jewelry fell by the wayside.  We came across a generation or two who felt the wearing of jewelry was not really masculine enough for them.  That

Todd Reed Silver Men's Ring
Todd Reed men’s ring, available at the Squash Blossom.

pendulum has swung back.  Men of today have realized that the wearing of jewelry is as masculine as wearing any other accessory.”

Contemporary jewelry designers like Todd Reed are at the forefront of the men’s jewelry trend.  Using fine metals and stones in stylish designs, these designers encourage men to express themselves with jewelry, as has been done for centuries.

See more at our website.