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Oct 20, 2020

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Designer Spotlight: Loren Nicole

We sat down (virtually) with Loren to learn how she combines past and present to create stunning pieces (hint: working in museums may have helped), what it’s like to work without electricity and what surprising art energizes her.

If you encounter jeweler Loren Nicole Teetelli at work in her California studio, you may be hard-pressed to find her at first: instead, you might be distracted by the colorful paintings, taxidermy, and objects from her many travels and expeditions that adorn the space. 

Then you may feel an ineffable pull toward a worn wooden table in the corner, cluttered with tools, where you’ll see Loren’s head bent in concentration over a pile of metal and stone. Look closely and you’ll be rewarded with a visual feast: glittering golden hills of hand-formed chains, each link painstakingly hammered. A constellation of carved gems waiting to be plucked and put in just the right setting. If that doesn’t distract you, well, reader, you’re in the wrong place. 

22k yellow gold handmade chains referencing ancient cultures from around the world.

Loren formally launched her eponymous jewelry line in 2016, but her passion for history and her insatiable curiosity began with a career as an archaeologist. While going on epic field expeditions, she also worked as a conservator at both the American Museum of Natural History and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where Loren studied and cared for objects of historic significance. After years working in institutions where she was surrounded by precious jewels from eras past, she became intimately familiar with the curves and crevices of gold and stone worn by the people of ancient civilizations, and became interested in their origin stories.

So she sought out master jewelers and learned how to bead, wrap and curve gold to her will. Eventually Loren left the echoing museum halls to create jewelry full-time. Inspired by the timelessness of these incredible ancient designs — from Egyptian stone animal stone totems perched on golden rings to woven chains made by Greek goldsmiths — Loren uses the historic techniques she studied to create spiritual extensions of the past, with her own modern twist. Everything is made by her hand alone, without using electricity, just like master goldsmiths of eras past. (Though she did concede to an air-conditioner in the studio, something those ancient goldsmiths surely wouldn’t have turned down.)

Untitled  1959, Agnes Martin © Estate of Agnes Martin/DACS, London, 1915

When she’s not eyeballing antiquities, Loren finds joy in the spare abstract art of Agnes Martin, the complicated elegance of the taxidermy pieces created by Dutch artists Darwin, Sinke, and van Tongeren, and the classic oeuvre of Julia Roberts. And though it’s easy to see the historic influence on her work, there’s also a simplicity, sophistication, and element of fun to Loren’s jewelry that can absolutely be chalked up to repeated viewings of the film Mystic Pizza.

There’s a special beauty to the bend of high karat gold, and in the right artist’s hands, it can be shaped to something approaching divinity. Loren’s studio is a portal to other eras, and she travels back in time to bring us beauty in the present.

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