I remember the first time I saw abalone shell from New Zealand. I was studying at the Rhode Island School of Design and a fellow classmate had just come back from a trip to New Zealand. She brought back all these iridescent shell pieces and I couldn’t believe that she had just found them on the beach!
She gave me a few to keep and I stashed them away, not really sure what I could do with them, but knowing that I loved their shimmering beauty. I forgot all about them as I continued my studies, focusing on forging and fabrication with metal.
Fast forward to a few years ago, I found a small box of beautiful shimmery buttons at M&J Trimming in Manhattan. As before, I was drawn to their beauty. I couldn’t believe that something designed only to protect a sea creature could be so beautiful! I purchased the entire collection and hoped I could figure out some way to use them in my jewelry, despite their fragility.
Back in the studio, I began to play with the buttons and shell pieces, looking for a way to bring some strength to their delicate nature. My biggest concern in using them for pendants was the risk of chipping the edges. If I could protect the edges, they would be suitable for everyday wear.
My experience working with metals allowed me some insight into the possible ways to strengthen the mother-of-pearl pieces, and I ultimately decided to channel-set them in bright or oxidized sterling silver. With the edges covered, they were protected from the risks of snagging on clothing or banging into buttons or zippers on clothing.
Today, my Aurora Collection has grown to include pieces made from abalone buttons, mother-of-pearl cabochons and simple shell pieces hanging from silver loops. Each pendant is inspired by and created to enhance the beauty of the individual piece of shell being used, and no two are the same.
This collection plays up the iridescent shine of mother-of-pearl by contrasting it with either the rich velvety darkness of oxidized silver, or the muted brilliance of sterling silver. Despite their heavenly beauty, these pieces are wearable and approachable, bringing a bit of the aurora borealis to your everyday life.