Loren Celedonia shares her past, present inspirations and future aspirations
I first met Loren Celedonia years ago when she was director of product development at Me & Ro. She was sharp and authoritative about how the pieces should be made from the first models to the hand finishing and setting. She understood Robin Renzi’s aesthetic and knew how to facilitate and get things done. The next time I saw her name was on Me & Ro’s website when in 2014, Robin put a small group Loren Celedonia designs on her website to help spread the word about Loren’s launch of her collection.
Like ME&RO, Loren’s pieces are personal, symbolic and can have more than one meaning, depending on the woman purchasing the piece. Her designs are feminine and delicate in their scale yet with a cultured, world traveled, bohemian edge in the styling of the collection.
Bejeweled met up with Loren to chat about her background, her inspirations, her earlier work as a bench jeweler and her new launched collection.
When did you know you had a passion for jewelry?
“Growing up in New York, I would go on outings with my dad who was a graphic designer and a painter. He fueled my own creativity as a kid and would take me down to Canal Street where hardware stores and plastics stores sold wares that not only served their functions but also served as art supplies. We’d lie all of our findings out on the kitchen table and go to work. I made jewelry out of a mixed media of brass hardware, magazine cut outs and plastic—very craft driven and Dada-esqe.
“When I was in college I studied jewelry abroad in Florence for a year and that was when it became my true passion. I was working with precious metals and gems for the first time and it felt amazing. I also loved how, in Italy, the handwork was passed down from one generation to the next. I became enchanted with the tradition of the craft and after that there was no turning back.”
What were the first pieces of jewelry you personally wore?
“I grew up in NY in the 80’s so hoops, extremely big hoops were my go-to earrings. In the 90’s, I became more in touch with my personal style and realized that I loved delicate pieces that spoke to me, whether it be a beautiful shape or color. I loved lapis and turquoise in those days (and still do). My first real piece of jewelry were these great 14K gold shield like drop earrings with 3 tiny square turquoise set in a crown that I bought in an antique store in Saratoga Springs. I still wear those earrings every now and then.”
Can you take us through your career before you launched your own collection?
“I first worked as a bench jeweler and polisher. The jewelry industry was so different 20 years ago—to be a jeweler you had to know how to work at the bench and you had to understand all of the different techniques of jewelry making—I feel very lucky I had that experience before so much of design went digital. I then worked as a production manager for a large designer and then as the director of product development at Me&Ro where you and I met.
“I then took a year off to care for my growing family. During that time, I realized that I wanted to be designing, sketching and back at the bench making jewelry again the way I learned how to do it. I launched my company in 2011. In the beginning I worked solely creating custom designs and eventually I began to work out ideas that I had been drawing over the years.”
What was the first piece you ever designed for your collection?
“A full scarab bracelet that was designed by request for a client. We both loved scarabs and he requested that I design a five stone scarab link bracelet. I engraved it with an Art Deco papyrus motif on the back. The bracelet then grew into my first group for my full-scale collection. I designed the scarab stone carving and had the scarabs cut in turquoise, amethyst, tiger’s eye, carnelian, lapis, malachite, rose quartz and onyx. They are set in solid gold settings. The gold side is as beautiful as the stone side. Most of my pieces are made so they can be worn both ways.”
How would you describe your sensibility and aesthetic of the collection?
“I always start with sketching out shapes or silhouettes and then I cut them out and mock them up with fine wire or chains to see how earrings or a necklace will hang and flow on the female form. Then, after the initial concepts are developed, I add color and fluidity, which brings the designs to life and which will allow the pieces to take on the personality and movement of each wearer.”
Please describe your collection
“I have different groups within the collection
-Egyptian Revival: Scarabs are a sign of renewal and strength worn for protection and luck. This, as we discussed was my first collection and important because, there were a lot of ideas that I had been drawing for years finally coming together. I then created my Abacus pendant, which was the meditative piece of the collection. Part of the distinctiveness of my line is creating symbolic pieces that function and have a real use.”
“Blossom and Fans are another part of the collection. This is my more ethereal, feminine grouping. Blossoms represent rejuvenation and new beginnings and fans evoke tranquility and serenity and when worked together the shapes are pretty, more delicate and open in feeling and silhouette.”
“Sea and Sky: the sea is represented by the wave of the curve pendants which are pave’ set with a fine line of diamonds The Sky recalls kites blowing in the wind. This group offers the calming effect of the summer, when you can reflect upon different aspects of yourself and what you want to do next.”
“Piedra: This was my collection in which I had to take my old training and new technology and merge them together. Working with CAD definitely offers a quicker turn around but I do think that it works best when you have spent time learning everything there is to know about the bench and created models with your hands. It was important to me to use CAD as a new tool. I had 13 stones I wanted to put in a band, each was so beautiful, CAD made it simpler to create specific size settings to highlight each different stone and if needed to adjust sizes quickly for new variations. I had inherited a large parcel of colored stones. It was both challenging and fun to see what I could do with gems I didn’t traditionally use. I was able to offer a lot of one of kind pieces within this collection.”
What are the materials you use?
“I work in 18K, 14K, Platinum and sterling silver. All of my metals are recycled and I use reclaimed diamonds, in white, grey and black. I also incorporate a lot of colored stones, especially tourmalines.
How would you describe the woman who buys your collection?
“The women who buy my jewelry are most likely In more creative fields. She likes to buy her own jewelry because she has very specific tastes and is attracted to personalized jewelry that can be worn everyday and/or layered.”
How do you see yourself evolving?
“I will continue to concentrate on the symbolic aspect of my collections and I plan on adding more color. I also plan on creating more alternate wedding rings for my next collection. I think that this is a niche in the market in which you can be creative and women will appreciate rings that are different than what other designers are showing.”
Have you had a piece of jewelry handed down to you that you wear often or never take off?
“My wedding band. It was my grandmothers’. I had the French saying, ‘Mon Coeur est a vous” which translates to ‘my heart is yours.’ engraved onto the piece. I wear it everyday. When my retailers and clients saw it –they loved it so much that I replicated a thin band with the saying for the collection. It’s great as a wedding band or a sentimental band given for a special occasion that you can add to any stack of rings.”
How would you recommend to women to wear your jewelry and jewelry in general?
Always have that one piece that grounds you and that says something about you. Then, after that you can get more creative. Go with your moods and figure out what will make you even happier, smile brighter if you are wearing it. Jewelry is to be enjoyed, loved and make you happy to own and wear.”