We are very excited to introduce you to the Jewelry brand Lazuli Handmade which we are now carrying in our New York City showroom! We have asked Erika Young, the owner and designer of Lazuli, a couple of questions to get to know her and her work. Erika’s jewelry is nature inspired and handmade in Newport, Rhode Island.
Read along if you are interested in some beautiful, statement bridal earrings.
How did you get into Jewelry making and when?
I always enjoyed arts and crafts as a kid and I’m just the type of person who enjoys working with their hands. Growing up in the 90’s I made a ton of hippie hemp necklaces and friendship bracelets and even through college and into adulthood I continued to turn to jewelry as a creative outlet. In 2014 I had just gotten a degree in Geology and started my first job out of school working for an underwater research company that required me to travel and work in the field offshore a lot.
I started making jewelry again because sitting still and working on something small for hours turns out to be a soothing practice for me and I had just finished learning about all these rocks and minerals right when raw gemstone jewelry was becoming a huge trend. I wanted to show people how beautiful these stones and crystals are without being cut or faceted and I kept seeing these “gold dipped” crystals everywhere.
I liked the way the setting seemed to flow over the crystals without obscuring their natural edge like a traditional bezel setting will. However I wasn’t interested in buying a bunch of pre-made pendants from a factory, I wanted to figure out how to do it myself. I did some research I learned about the process of electroforming, which allows you to “grow” metal on nonmetallic objects using a conductive paint. Basically, wherever the paint goes, copper will slowly form, particle by particle until a coating of copper is thick and strong enough to hold the stone.
Essentially, I am growing my own bezel, it’s very cool! I started with a hobbyist’s kit and upgraded over the years. Our 2019 collection features ginkgo leaves plucked straight from the tree. I electroformed those and had a mold made to reproduce the leaves in solid brass. I started doing Lazuli full time in 2017 and I now have a part time helper, my friend Brooke.
Tell us a little bit about your design style. What makes it unique?
Between 2018-2019 I stopped thinking of myself as a geologist who makes jewelry and started entertaining the idea of myself as an artist.
My educational background informs my perspective and how I work with the materials, and my work will always be inspired by nature first and foremost, but I’m also inspired by the beautiful Colonial and Gilded Age architecture in Newport, RI where I live and I’m nurtured by the local creative community here Once I’m inspired and I’ve started obsessing over a certain motif or theme (last year was the ginkgo leaf, a living fossil and symbol of tenacity and resilience), I start thinking about how to make it wearable art. Electroforming is a pretty forgiving and not a super limiting method, and allows me to explore a few design options before I invest a ton.
I also source recycled, dead stock components from a RI-based supplier and I work with what is available to me. The collections usually flow from there!
What kind of person wears your jewelry?
My customer reaches for the classics, but isn’t shy about being bold or elegant.
As a designer where do you draw your inspiration from?
Nature, always! Living on this beautiful island means inspiration is never far.
What’s your favourite piece you have created?
I love my Asymmetrical Ginkgo Leaf Cluster statement earrings, I think they are works of art, the frame the face, and no one has ever seen them before. I actually entered them in the 2019 Etsy Design Competition and I placed as a finalist!
What are your favourite materials to use?
I love working with stones and I love finding the coolest recycled/vintage/deadstock specialty chains to incorporate into my collections. They are so luxe and are amazing quality for plated chains, I get an extra thick coating of 14k gold put on them and I wear them constantly.
Who would you most like to see wearing your jewelry?
Probably Solange Knowles. I revere her artistry, her eye, her activism, her expression, she is living art.
What advice would you give someone interested in getting into jewelry design/making?
I’m self-taught, so I would say play around and have fun doing it as a hobby for awhile until your skills are refined and you have a sense of what your style is! Do your research before you spend a bunch of money on tools and supplies and especially do your research to make sure what you’re about to create doesn’t exist already and figure out what your “signature” is and do your own takes on classics.
Keep your ethical role in mind, the jewelry industry exploits many humans and natural resources, do your part to contribute to that as little as possible!
Book your appointment now to try some of these beauties on at our New York Loft: http://www.themewsnewyork.com/contact/