Meet the Designer: Stephanie Owen of Elizabeth Cole Jewelry

It’s always delightful to give our readers the opportunity to get to know our designers better! Designer of Elizabeth Cole Jewelry, Stephanie Owen, has a magnetic personality, major talent, and is a dear friend. I sat down with Stephanie and asked her some questions that hopefully will give you a glimpse of the brains behind one of our favorite brands on Charm & Chain.

Let’s start with a basic but important question. How did you become a jewelry designer?

I had dabbled in jewelry making from the age of 14 and continued to do so as a hobby throughout college. My first job out of school was at a Fashion, Beauty and Lifestyle Public Relations firm in Los Angeles. My responsibilities included promoting our clients’ products to magazine editors and stylists and my boss encouraged me to take my jewelry to these meetings. Stylists began to pull my jewelry and celebrities such as Drew Barrymore, Joss Stone, Mary J Blige and Alica Keys began wearing my designs and a number of editors pulled pieces for photo shoots. As this continued to happen, it became apparent that my career lay in jewelry design and not PR.

You’ve done some major collaborations with designers, most recently
with designer Zac Posen. How has that influenced your design
aesthetic?

Working with Zac Posen and his team was the first time I’d really needed to consider how the jewelry I was designing would work within the context of a specific clothing line. We met with Zac and his team on several occasions to discuss his inspirations for the collections, color palettes and overall feel of the collection and how the jewelry I designed might reflect those different elements. Working with Zac has really opened up my eyes to different color palettes and I have started to use color in my jewelry in a way I never had before. Zac’s silhouettes are also tailored and feminine and I definitely sought to include that femininity into my pieces.

What is your all-time favorite piece in your line?

Although it’s a classic in the collection that we’ve had for several seasons, the Mohawk Earrings, in almost any color, are hands down one of my favorite pieces – what can I say, they simply transform any outfit I might pull out of my closet.

Describe the process through which your jewelry gets executed, from idea to product.

Oddly enough, I glean a lot of inspiration from interior design (my not-so secret other passion). Truly, I’ll be watching an old movie or a television program with beautiful set design and the color combinations and shapes inspire me. I always go to Versailles when I am in Paris, and the texture and shapes in the architectural details never cease to amaze me. That said, I find that the majority of my inspiration comes from the materials I’m able to find. Be they beautiful new colors issued by Swarovski, interesting new shapes, vintage stones I find at antique fairs or interesting brass “findings” that I can incorporate into a piece is what gets me the most excited about making jewelry. Once I’ve found the materials that inspire me, I sit at my workbench, tweaking the different materials until a beautiful shape emerges that I’m able to work into an earring, necklace or bracelet. On some days, I can tweak one piece for hours before I get something that sings to me, on other days the pieces emerge within minutes!

How has your hometown of Santa Barbara Inspired you?

I must admit, Santa Barbara is a rather idyllic spot. It is sandwiched between the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Ynez Mountains and located in Southern California, the weather is extremely temperate so beautiful gardens in brilliant colors and vegetation abound year round. The consistent floral themed jewels that are scattered throughout my collection have certainly been influenced by the beauty that surrounded me growing up in Santa Barbara, and I still get inspiration from my mother’s garden when I go home to visit. That said, I grew up in a mountain loving family, so all of our vacations were spent in the Rocky Mountains or Sierra Nevadas and a lot of the “rusticness” and “American West” that you see in my collection, most evident in pieces like our animal inspired pieces (the Ram bracelet and rings, Horse Head bracelets etc) are much more heavily influenced by my time in the mountains and my father’s “cowboy” ways.

What do you love about being a jewelry designer?

It is a joy to make beautiful things every day that adorn women around the world. It is a wonderful feeling to do this and it never gets old.

Can you describe exactly how the process works when you collaborate with a Ready-to-Wear designer?

In collaborating with Zac Posen, we needed to strike a balance between his vision for the collection and being true to the Elizabeth Cole aesthetic. In the months preceding the runway shows, we met with Zac and his team on several occasions to discuss his color palettes, inspiration for his collection and discuss how that might be translated into the jewelry and how the jewelry could enhance the clothing. We also worked with a consultant who had a good grasp both of Zac’s vision and the Elizabeth Cole aesthetic and was able to interpret and marry his vision with ours and helped to shape the general direction of the collection. We were fortunate that Zac and his team trusted both our consultant and me to design jewelry which would work seamlessly with the collection and allowed us a fairly free reign in design.

What’s most exciting to you about your Fall/Winter 2012 collection?

The new floral collection is slaying me. As ever, inspired by nature and beautiful blooms, our collection is heavy with brightly colored floral pieces. However, these are differentiated from our classic florals as I’ve incorporated Vintage Fabric Flowers into bracelets and necklaces in a unique way which, I think, adds interesting texture and depth to the pieces. First seen on the runway at New York Fashion Week this past February, we’ve received a wonderful reaction from press and retailers alike on this new collection.

Shop Elizabeth Cole Jewelry here.

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