Foundrae Designer Beth Bugdaycay’s Journey As Told Through Her Jewels
Beth Bugdaycay, the creative director and co-owner of Foundrae designs jewelry, that when collected and worn together is similar to a revealing memoir of a woman’s life as told through multiple medallions and stacks of rings and bracelets. Her pieces not only speak to different ancient, spiritual and sentimental meanings and/or iconic motifs but also hold unique significance to each woman who wears them. Beth has reworked these symbols into modern jewels, which can be added to and built upon. She has described them as “highly personalized pieces that allow a woman to express something of herself to the world. Wearing Foundrae reflects the journey a woman has taken so far and perhaps what she still want to achieve in her life, representing the next chapter.”
After speaking to Beth a number of times about Foundrae and watching her grow and evolve the collection to include new symbols and styles, I thought it was time to raid her jewelry box and relate her personal journey and the pieces most relevant to her and her life story so far…
When did you first become aware of your affinity/love for jewelry?
“When did I not love jewelry? Even in high school I wore rings on every finger and ascribed meaning to my jewelry. Even the most inexpensive silver piece because quite meaningful for me. As a result, I still own most of the jewelry I wore in high school.”
What was the first piece of jewelry that you purchased for yourself? Do you still have that piece today?
“The first ‘real’ piece of jewelry I purchased for myself was in 7th grade and it was from an antique store, within walking distance from my house. It was a Victorian acrostic ring. The woman who owned the shop explained to me that the particular one I choose was unusual for those type of rings, which usually was created as a larger half hoop band. This one had four thin bands with the first letter of each gemstone on all of the bands, spelling out the word ‘dear’ (diamond, emerald, amethyst and ruby). In an era of ‘Broken Heart/Best Friend’ charms, the idea of jewelry that you could split with your friends resonated with me, so I gave one band each to my closest girlfriends and kept just one for myself. Sadly, I no longer own this piece, which is actually quite surprising for me.”
“What was your first piece that is connected to a major or significant moment in your life?”
“As I mentioned, I ascribed meaning to my jewelry early in life. I have so many examples, most of which I still own actually. Here are two that are particularly symbolic or sentimental:
-I wore a silver snake ring around my index throughout high school (and even in my senior year pictures) and the day of graduation it broke in half. I saw it as a harbinger of change.
-I made several pieces in a high school jewelry class, including a silver band for my sister with the Greek letters of her sorority in gold. I hand cut each letter with a wire band saw. She still has it and has always cherished it.”
What was your taste when you first started collecting/buying jewelry?
“Honestly it hasn’t changed so much although I can afford better quality pieces now. I always liked antiques, mostly Victorian, Georgian and Egyptian revival pieces. I don’t discriminate between fine and costume when it comes to collecting. I grew up on the border of Mexico in Southwestern Texas, which definitely gave me a soft spot for Southwestern silver and I also love Native American designs.”
When did you decide to make the change in your career to jewelry from your career in fashion and role as CEO of Rebecca Taylor?”
“I had the financial opportunity to take a risk and to follow my heart. I was 42 and I felt “if not now then when” –which later became a saying on one of my rings as it could apply to anyone at any time in their lives.”
What are the antique pieces you have as part of your personal collection?
I have a lot! Nothing too precious but all pieces I love. I own some Victorian lockets, bangles, and Georgian and Victorian rings. But the pieces that most impacted my design process and had the most influence on Foundrae are my antique chains and my enamel pieces!”
What is the common denominator in how you collect antique jewelry and design modern jewelry?
“The symbolism. Jewelry with meaning for me is jewelry that makes you pause.”
Can you talk about what jewelry means to you on a personal level?
“I like to always have real conversations with people. Symbolic jewelry and tattoos seem to open that kind of conversation up—both of these forms of adornment reveal something about the person and make you want to know more. I don’t have any tattoos so I wear a lot of jewelry to start a dialogue.”
How do you mix up your pieces? Is there something about a particular piece that you feel goes with everything? “I only own jewelry that I can wear all of the time. I mix everything up daily—that is the fun of it and it creates a different level to my story each day. When I advise clients, however—there is definitely a starting point—a medallion you completely relate to and love, that you will want to add to and combine with other pieces. Personally, I never keep my jewelry on reserve for special occasions and I would never advise investing in a piece you keep locked away.”
What does mixing old and new means to you aesthetically?
“For me, the idea of mixing old and new isn’t really deliberate. I wear pieces that I love and it seems to work together or so I hope.”
Is there a piece of jewelry that you are currently obsessing over? And why?
“There is a heavy diamond and gold link bracelet on 47th Street, The Jewelry District in New York City that I’ve tried on quite a few times. Ok, maybe too many times. But the owner is very kind and patient. I love the weight of it and how it feels when I put it in on with my other pieces. I am hoping that by the time I decide to take the plunge and purchase it, it will still be there.”
Is there a piece that you didn’t buy that still haunts you? And why didn’t you buy it?
“It haunts me that my parents didn’t buy more gold in Mexico in the 1970’s when the pieces were huge and heavy because gold was $35 an ounce. My p dad had already bought as much as he could on layaway back then. But mom has benefitted from whatever purchases he did make.”
If you could describe your jewelry style in one word – what would that word be?
Bold? Nope, that’s not it. Oh, that’s super hard—one word? I think I am ‘classic’, yet when I say that to friends, they just start laughing…