Jewelry Beyond the Bling
NEW YORK—Soho has a newcomer with Eva Shaw Designs, a jewelery boutique that opened less than two months ago on Sullivan Street.
It looks like a jewelry-candy shop. Clusters of minuscule, multi-colored, semi-precious gems are woven into bracelets and necklaces. It is clear as soon as you walk in that the emphasis is on gemstones in many forms—either facetted, un-facetted, smooth, or raw. Elizabeth Shaw is having a cup of coffee next to mother, designer, gemmologist Eva Shaw. This is their lair of creativity and display.
The mother and daughter duo are in love with gemstones and have set their sights on more than simply making great jewelry. Both women are full of enthusiasm and restless in their search for the next idea for a design but they are also passionate about giving back.
The founding principles of their five-year-old business are to source, ethically, make locally and contribute to the Global Fund for Widows.
They are a tight team—mother and daughter can finish each other’s sentences. I ask whether they’ve partnered up with any major designer labels, thinking that surely fashions designers who incorporate jewelry in their ranges would jump at the chance to work with the passionate duo.
Designers often resort to costume jewelery made out of plastic or rhinestones, whereas the Shaws’s work is original and uses high-grade gemstones. The idea of collaboration hasn’t occurred to them but in their unabashed enthusiasm they seem to be willing to embrace any possibility.
Both women feel that semi-precious stone jewelry should be affordable.
“That was part of our foundation from day one,” said Eva Shaw. “We’ve always felt that you can wear real gemstone, fashionable pieces, and not necessarily be spending thousands upon thousands for them.”
Their work has a raw quality to it and the designs show great originality. The most eye-catching piece in the shop is the one-off Gemstone Neckfringe ($895). It is a multi-cluster necklace that incorporates 18 types of gemstones including amethyst, freshwater pearl, lapis lazuli, jade, labradorite, coral, turquoise, chalcedony, garnet, carnelian, ruby and more. It’s the sheer volume of the clusters, the colors and the intricate detail that makes it so original. Yet the necklace possesses is a lightness to it that is surprising.
There is a great deal of experimentation and the abundance of ideas that both Eva and Elizabeth have means that they are unlikely to opt for mass production.
“We very rarely make the exact same thing again,” said Eva Shaw. “There are certain pieces that customers have come to look for. Generally speaking we both get a little bored so we’re always looking to do something new.”
Supporting a Great Cause
Eva Shaw Designs also donates 10 percent of sales from its uncut black diamond collection to the Global Fund for Widows, (http://globalfundforwidows.org) a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering widows in developing countries to overcome poverty through social contracting, skills based training, job creation, and micro-finance.
This collection consists of a necklace and bracelet in which raw black diamonds are paired with sterling silver and gold-filled components. They come with hand-hammered tags bearing both the Eva Shaw Designs and Global Fund for Widows logos. They are surprisingly affordable—$140 for the set.
Eva is not fond of following fashion or jewelry trends. She prefers to start a new creation with a blank slate, or if she had it her way, an opal or Padparadscha sapphire, her favorite gemstones. Even so, each collection has a distinctive style that immediately calls to mind a fashion look that it would complement.
Antique-Inspired Modern Looks
The Luxe’or Collection has an ancient Egyptian feel to it, but it would look totally in place on a Soho dwelling Nubian-princess-inspired fashionista who loves carnelian and turquoise.
Elizabeth, who did not study at Gemological Institute of America like her mother Eva, nevertheless gushes with gemological knowledge. She tells of one of her favorites, the Sleeping Beauty turquoise and its unique source.
The name of the turquoise comes form the mine by the same name in Arizona. No other turquoise has the same pure bright blue color, nor can it be called that. The almost-fluorescent natural turquoise slabs that dangle from the Sedona earrings highlight ornate 22-kt gold vermeil posts with faceted smoky quartz teardrops.
Judging by their passion and creativity, it is clear that Eva Shaw Designs is a serendipitous find in the world of accessories. It remains to be seen what the future holds. They plan to host monthly events—a Valentine’s Day soiree is in the works for February—and to start a blog.
Their upcoming trip to the gem fair in Tucson this year is sure to provide Eva and Elizabeth with fuel for creativity. No matter what their combined inspiration brings us, it is sure to highlight nature’s gems in all their multicolored glory.
Eva Shaw Design’s website is evashawdesigns.com