Did you ever wonder where Hollywood stylists find all of the wonderful pieces highlighted on television every week? Just the other day, I stumbled upon one of their secret suppliers – Jivita Harris-Casey Jewelry! Her gorgeous pieces run the gamut including exquisite necklaces, bracelets, rings and earrings, plus nature-inspired collections like the Water & Stars, Twig, Pebble, and Leaf. She also designs with a lighter, more ethereal side which is beautifully showcased in her Gypsy and Mythology collections. Add in some truly spectacular one-of a-kind pieces and I hardly knew where to start!
Recently, Jivita was gracious enough to take a few moments and answer some questions for me about her inspiration and what the future might hold. The interview follows. To see more of her work, visit Jivita Jewelry or simply watch your favorite television shows – I bet you’ll be able to pick out more than a few of her beautiful designs!
I read that as a child you regularly visited the desert and mountains and have always been inspired by the beauty of nature. Are you originally from California?
I was born in The Netherlands, but my father is American and we moved back to his native southern California when I was six. We grew up in Huntington Beach, at that time a lazy little surf town. California is such an amazing place that the oceans, mountains, deserts are all so easily accessible.
You say that you had a metals class in college. Was college the first time you actually designed jewelry? Or were you making pieces before that, which led to your choice of college/major?
I was an art major in college and a friend actually suggested I try out a metals class. I had done plenty of bead stringing as a kid, but never really thought of it as something to do “professionally.” After one metals class, I was hooked and changed my major from general art to 3-D media with metal emphasis. Weird title for a major, but it was basically a degree in metal work. We weren’t allowed to use beads, so it took some time after school to translate art jewelry into more of the wearable work that I am making now.
Who would you say are your biggest design influences? And, has that changed over time?
When I was in school I really loved Albert Paley, William Harper and Mary Lee Hu. They are jewelry artists from the late sixties thru mid seventies who really changed where jewelry was going. They focused on sculptural and ancient techniques to create narrative pieces. Really free form, large and very expressive, indicative of the expressionist and pop art movements of the time but also referencing tribal jewelry from around the world. As a student, this freedom and ability to capture a certain sensitivity was very important to me. I was always trying to capture an over all “feeling.” I still use these elements to create my jewelry, however now I try to reduce things so they are more accessible and easy to wear.
What inspires or moves you?
Again, it’s about trying to create the overall feeling that being in or observing nature gives you. When I go into the desert or watch the waves, or stand in an ancient forest, there is a moment, sometimes very brief but sometimes it lasts a while, of complete awe and peace, of feeling one with the universe and it’s very rejuvenating. Many writers and philosophers have worded it much better than me. I often search out their words to describe a collection and then use the symbols of those words as jumping off points. The Water & Stars Collection is a good example.
What types of materials do you favor? Do you have a favorite material/gemstone?
Everything I make is sterling silver with an antique finish. I do work with gold, but prefer to use it to enhance the dark silver. I love unusual stones, especially those with a scenic quality like Australian boulder opals or jaspers. I can’t seem to get enough of blue and green gemstones too, like turquoise, lapis, chrysoprase, and chrysocolla
Your designs are in fine boutiques and stores nationwide. How long have you been in business?
Mostly I promote my own work with cold calls to boutiques that I discover by word of mouth or cute places I have stumbled into and of course trade shows and art fairs. I have been doing this for 10 years, part time, while raising a family. I love the flexibility and being able to control my own growth.
I learned that you recently sold pieces which will be featured on some popular television shows like the Mentalist, Bones, House, Lie to Me and more. How did that come about? Do you have celebrity fans?
I am working with a woman who sells jewelry to the costumers of these shows. Jewelry is a great way to help describe a character. It’s always exciting when she calls to tell me that another show has picked up a few pieces, unfortunately she doesn’t always know which character the pieces are purchased for!
What advice would you have for a budding designer?
Getting an art degree was great, but working in a jewelry store and apprenticing for different designers was invaluable. There is no better way to learn the business and work on your skills!
I would like to get bigger, accounts with mass retailers would be great for a separate line. Right now I personally make all my designs so that is part of what makes the pieces attractive to my clientele. It is hand crafted and unusual. On the other hand it could be pretty fun to translate some ideas into large production. I am always open to new ideas!
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