This post is sponsored by Rebecca Mir Grady, a contemporary fine-jeweler that specializes in reclaimed metals and ethically sourced stones.
When I got engaged to be married a little over ten years ago, ethically-sourced anything was far from my young mind. If I knew then what 34-year-old Andrea knows now, I probably would have given myself some advice about the importance of considering the source of where my jewelry and the materials used to make it came from. I might have pointed myself in the direction of some place like Rebecca Mir Grady, a jeweler who takes the guesswork out of wondering how and where your jewelry was sourced. Rebecca creates fine jewelry in her Chicago-based studio with reclaimed metals and ethically sourced stones. No slave labor. No blood diamonds. No dirty gold mining.
Recently, Rebecca Mir Grady jewelry caught my eye because of her modern, minimalist designs. When I looked a little bit closer, I realized what makes her pieces unique is that they are simultaneously beautiful, delicate and strong. They are very congruent and feel anchored, just the type of jewelry I like to wear. Not fussy and make a statement.
It is my great pleasure today to introduce you to the jeweler herself, and share a little bit more about the stories behind her pieces. Be sure to check in at the end for a special discount for Seasons + Salt readers.
S+S: Did you always want to be a jewelry-maker?
RMG: Yes! My mom can back this up – she’s got a stash of my early creations: lots and lots of beaded clay jewelry from when I was a kid…. Also, there was a jewelry making class in my high school, which I was lucky enough to take. I loved it, and from there I got an apprenticeship with some jewelry designers. I learned a lot about metalsmithing early on and I’ve been making jewelry since then. I moved to Chicago for art school, and focused on larger scale sculptures and drawings. I also worked for several years doing production for a handmade jewelry company, which taught me so much about construction and running a business. When I started turning some of my larger drawings and sculptures into pieces of jewelry, I knew I had to start my own jewelry line, and launched in 2013.
What is your favorite part about your craft?
I really like working with my hands, so getting to make things most days is a lot of fun! One of the most rewarding parts has been getting to work with couples on engagement rings and wedding bands. I love meeting new people and creating something special for them. And best of all was getting to make an engagement ring for my girlfriend a few months ago. I proposed with a drawing of a ring, so she could be a part of the design process, and now she’s wearing the beautiful finished ring!
Tell us more about your latest collection, Waves, and where the name came from.
The new collection – Waves – is inspired by the rough Maine coastline and peaks of the Rocky Mountains. I’m excited about the new pieces – the shapes – mountains and hexagons, and some of the new diamond sapphire cluster rings. In all, there are twenty-five new pieces in recycled 14k gold and sterling silver, using ethically sourced diamonds and sapphires.
I try to get out of my own space and travel a few times every year, even if just for a short trip.
I find that leaving and being in a new or different landscape for a while is inspiring. When I get back to the studio, I find myself thinking about shapes that I was surrounded by, and try to design pieces that make me think about those places that I traveled to.
Last year, before I started working on this new collection, I went to Colorado and to Rocky Mountain National Park with my girlfriend. It was my first time there and, I find that, growing up near the water, and living in flat state, I’m always blown away by mountains. Many of the pieces in the new collection take their names from places and things we saw on our hikes – Ida, Odessa, Avens…. In the fall, we also traveled to visit my family in Maine, and went to all my favorite places there – the islands in Casco Bay and the Rachel Carson Preserve. The pieces in this new collection are intended to conjure up some of the shapes from these two very different landscapes, the mountains and the sea.
Some of your pieces have a more masculine or strong feel than traditional fine jewelry, which makes them stand out among their counterparts. Can you tell us how you developed this signature style?
I design most of my jewelry to be worn by both men and women. Some of the designs have a more feminine feel, and work better in smaller sizes, while others have a more masculine feel, and work better on a larger scale. My personal style is minimal and tomboy, so I gravitate toward jewelry designs that can pair well with those styles, with pieces that I can wear every day, and that layer well. My style has evolved a bit over the years, and I’ve been getting a bit fancier with each collection, adding more stones and gold options.
Which pieces do you feel echo the deepest stories from you as an artist?
One of the pieces that inspired the jewelry line in the beginning was a necklace based on a compass – the Tramontana necklace. It has a hammered gold circle with four loose forged silver points – like the points on a compass rose – I think of it as a compass that you can use to choose your own direction. A kind of talisman for adventure and direction. I still wear one almost every day.
Most of the pieces in the collection are created from moments of inspiration in travel or in my day-to-day life. Out on a hiking trail, a visit to the ocean, or an architectural shape seen in the city or in a book.
For instance, in the newest collection, the bracelet Avens is a rendering in gold of the many tiny wildflowers that I saw last summer lining the trails in the Rocky Mountains. This piece in particular is really fun to make and I love how the hammered gold pieces link together and catch the light – similar to how the tiny Avens flowers brighten up the mountain paths.
What do you come across in your day-to-day life that inspires your artistic eye?
I live near the lake in Chicago and try to make it there every day – whether for a run in the morning or an evening walk. Growing up in Maine, right near the water, the ocean has always had a really calming effect on me. Living in Chicago, I have to say that I miss the waves of the ocean, but being close to Lake Michigan is also pretty great! It’s fun to see how much the lake changes color depending on the sky.
I am also very often inspired by art exhibits and books. The most recent show at the Art Institute of Chicago – Hélio Oiticica was so wonderful! His sculptures are beautiful and most are interactive. It was the most fun I’ve seen anyone (myself included) having at the Art Institute in my many years of going there. There was something so amazing about seeing all kinds of people in the space, interacting with his pieces – especially his Tropicália piece – which was essentially a giant sand box with various listening and viewing structures that you could enter. Walking around barefoot in the sand is a pretty great and an unexpected museum experience.
Thank you Rebecca for sharing a glimpse into your artistic heart and mind with us! I love hearing what inspires others, it often leads to more inspiration in my own daily life.
Rebecca Mir Grady is currently offering a 20% discount for Seasons + Salt readers, with the code “SEASONS20”
If you haven’t peeked at her website yet, I highly recommend it. Some of my favorites are the Hexagon necklace, the Dash Diamond earrings and the Alpine Diamond necklace.
The discount is good through May 26th.
This post is sponsored by Rebecca Mir Grady. As always, all opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands who make Seasons + Salt possible, and who truly do make this world a better place! All photos courtesy of Rebecca Mir Grady.