Beauty in Boulders

New York City designer Anna Rabinowicz studied Industrial Design as an undergrad, went on to earn an MFA in Design and an MS in Engineering from the Product Design Program of Stanford University, and has a background in technology and medical device design. Of course, with this high-tech, industrial background, it only made sense that Anna’s next step was to start working with multimillion-year-old stones.

Anna works with agate, an exceptionally strong mineral formed from cooled lava as it changes over millions of years. The volcanic rocks look average from the outside, but crack them open, and you’ll see something extraordinary–beautiful patterns of color created by water rising and falling within the bubbles in the rock over time.

The stunning stone has been incorporated into jewelry for centuries, worn and treasured to symbolize truth and inner beauty. Now, in this age of technology, Anna uses her knowledge of modern design and production to bring the age-old talisman to a new generation. Her Agate Drop Necklace is a way to own millions of years of natural history for only $120.

Before venturing into jewelry design, Anna began working with agate to develop products for the home, such as trivets, coasters, and photo frames. “In many ways the transition was very natural,” she explains. “I have always been interested in biological inspiration; creating prosthetic knees and devices for heart surgery relates to that as it involves replicating natural parts of the human body with human-created solutions. My [home and jewelry design] is also deeply rooted in bio-inspiration, just as the medical device work is. It involves creating objects inspired by nature which fuse ancient, precious materials with modern design.”

She says creating jewelry was a natural extension of creating products for the home. Her designs, “aim to bridge the gap between fashion and function.” The finished result is not only stylish, but also meaningful and comfortable.

“My brain kind of lives in two spaces – the artistic and the technical – and sometimes to work successfully in one area, I need to turn the other off for the moment,” Anna explains. “In the case of the jewelry pieces, I drove the design with the artistic part of my training, but then took over with the technical when it came to design the production method that we used to put them together.”

Agate Necklace

The production process starts in Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil, where the agate is sourced. “I just returned from the south Brazil, working with our artisans down there, and I was struck anew by the individual identity of each stone,” Anna says. “Each has its own character, its own pattern and shape. My aim is to enhance that natural beauty and individuality with the way the stone is cut, polished, and then incorporated into a design with other materials, including the sterling silver of these pieces.”

After finding the perfect stones and working with artisans to cut and smooth the slices, Anna creates her necklaces in her studio in the United States. “I love the tactile nature of it,” Anna tells us about her latest batch of necklaces. “Often, I find myself spending the day working mainly on the computer. So, actually making each of these necklaces by hand in my NYC studio was an amazing experience. We carefully crafted each one, taking into account the shape and the thickness and the translucency of each stone. I came to be personally invested in each necklace; it was difficult to send them away when they were done!”

It may have been hard for Anna to part with her beautiful, one-of-a-kind pieces, but we’re glad she was willing to send the Agate Drop Necklace our way!

Written by Cassie

Cassie spends most of her time at work writing things. She loves books (including comics), sketch comedy, and sci-fi. She's inspired by art and science. As a former Minnesotan, she longs for an afternoon on a lake, Grain Belt in hand. The New Yorker in her is happy spending that afternoon at the American Museum of Natural History instead.

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