When I stumbled upon Emily McCallon’s Etsy shop, Mavens Jewelry, I instantly knew I’d have to feature her work here. Emily lives in New Orleans but has studied in New York and Italy and “knows how to handle a $70K Asscher-cut diamond.” Her jewelry is expertly crafted, highly personal and something you’ll wear forever.
I’m a big believer in jewelry as less of a fashion statement, more of a personal declaration. Your work seems to embody this philosophy. Can you tell us a little about your design process?
In a sense, my process is all about challenge and personal expression: I’m focused on creating work that closely reflects my interests (for example, natural forms, and ideas I’ve experienced through travel, etc.); at the same time, I am never satisfied with work that is easy for me to accomplish, or which I think of as relatively simple to execute. I mean, I don’t want to create complicated design, but I don’t really see the point in creating new designs unless they’re pushing my skills and experience further in the process. So yes, I would say that design is very personal to me, but I think that’s the only way you get work that is truly unique and expressive.
You studied jewelry design in Italy and New York, which must have been quite an honor. Can you tell us a little about that experience?
Italy was amazing–just a hothouse of inspiration. Some of my biggest influences are from that place, and that period of my life, including the Etruscan and Roman goldsmithing techniques, and lost-wax casting. Most of the work I actually created while I was there was figurative, and grew out of my immersion in classical sculpture and figurative painting–while those pieces are not currently in my collection on the website, they are still near and dear to my heart, and a major inspiration to my other work.
New York was a very different, though still rich, experience. While there, I was working with both other novice jewelers and master goldsmiths. It’s really the place where I went “pro”–I learned to negotiate the commercial side of the industry in the diamond district of Manhattan, got comfortable choosing diamonds and gems, and had the awkward experience of carting a precious, heavy ingot of gold in my coat pocket during a nervous subway ride back to Brooklyn. It was hugely educational, and eye-opening, to see the kind of money and merchandise that flowed in and around 47th Street–it gave me a real understanding of how big, and global, this business is.
Small Teething Ring Triple Earrings
Your pieces have a very fluid feel to them and seem to be inspired by specific things based on the names of your pieces. What do you draw inspiration from?
Yes, naming the collections has been a lot of fun. I’ve used some of the names as jumping-off points for designs, like ‘Flamenco’, whereas other collections just grew into themselves from other (perhaps less accessible) ideas, like the “Teething Ring’. I had done all of these hand-carved meringues, which, when cast, were too heavy, so when I sawed off the base of the meringue, I had the form for the Teething Rings. It was at the same time that my daughter was chewing on those little water-filled jelly rings that you put in the freezer, and it just struck me as a better, more user-friendly design than the meringues ever had been. I hate to say it, because it’s the cliche, but you just have to draw inspiration from the things that surround you–after all, what else is there, really.
Tourmaline Wheel Necklace
What are your other hobbies when you aren’t designing jewelry?
Other hobbies? Oh god, where do I begin? Decorating. Baking. Trying out new cocktail recipes. Running. As far as jewelry goes, running is key: I ran my first marathon this past December, and I worked out many design kinks while doing the long training runs. Sort of Zen, think…pavement.. don’t think… breathe… jewelry.
Define southern style.
Southern style. Hmmm. In the South, people are forced to take on new habits and modes of expression, especially during the summer, with its fiendishly hot weather. Sometimes a big, chunky pair of earrings or a delicious cocktail ring are just about the only means of inserting a little high-class femininity when it’s too hot to think about anything more complicated than a halter and shorts. From my perspective, the “southern”-ness of my style is closely tied to the Florida coastline where I spent summers in my childhood. The shells and other shapes I collected from those sugar beaches deeply informed my approach. Hopefully someday, after this horrible mess is cleaned up, I can show my own daughter the same inspirational natural forms.
Mention you saw Maven’s Jewelry on Slow Southern Style and receive a 15% discount on any item in the shop! Just sent her a convo before placing the order to receive the discount.
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