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Introducing JCK Design Challenge Winning Designs

September 23, 2016

Back in February we partnered with JCK Events for their 2016 jewelry showcase in Tucson, Arizona. We sponsored a design challenge that pitted the most talented jewelers against one another (in a friendly competition, of course). Our mission was to highlight and honor those designers who think outside the box, use unique materials, and demonstrate amazing craftsmanship.

Rough Pink Tourmaline Stone Ring | UncommonGoods

Rough Pink Tourmaline Stone Ring by John Bekarian – Also available in Rough Emerald

After careful deliberation by the judges, John Bekarian’s Rough Stone Rings were the chosen winners.

Our Jewelry Buyer Sharon Hitchcock commented. “John’s ring design is gorgeous in its simplicity. It features a lovely stone, surrounded by precious metal. It is symbolic of keeping the one you love close to your heart. We are excited to carry this piece in the UncommonGoods jewelry assortment.”

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Maker Stories

Uncommon Impact: Tulianna and Alejandra Garces Design with Sustainability in Mind

September 20, 2016

As a B Corp certified company, UncommonGoods is excited about sustainability. That means more to us than just being “green” – we strive to offer products that reflect the environmental and social best-interests of everyone. So, when our makers are as concerned with sustainability as we are, we’re always excited to learn more about their process and the positive impact they’re having on the world.

Resin has long been a popular material that jewelry makers and other artists use to attach items together, coat or cover objects, or to cast. But many of the most commonly used petroleum-based resins are associated with high greenhouse gas emissions due to an unsustainable extraction process. To avoid these harmful effects, mother-daughter jewelry designing duo Tulianna and Alejandra Garces choose to make many of their pieces using plant-based, non-toxic resins. The Heart of Gold Necklace and earrings, the Full Moon Necklace and earrings, and the Gold Bar Necklace are all examples of stunning accessories made from such sustainable materials. We spoke to Tulianna and Alejandra to get a better sense of the uncommon impact they’re making with their eco-friendly designs.

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Maker Stories

Christine Schmidt’s Mismatched Earrings & Peculiar Pet Pendants

August 22, 2016

Christine Schmidt in her San Francisco Studio | UncommonGoods

Christine Schmidt is a jewelry artist, printmaker, designer, illustrator, author, and fraternal twin. She says that maybe that last one influenced her decision to veer from convention and create her clever, quirky mismatched earrings: “I am myself different but a part of a unit. I’ll spare you the therapy–but I like to change it up.”

Here at UncommonGoods, we like to change it up too, and that’s why when we saw some of Christine’s mismatched designs, we couldn’t wait to work with her to create more canny combos.

We thought about a few of the interests our customers (and even many of the folks that work here) share, and worked with the artist on a new line celebrating books, space, and pets. Christine captured each of these concepts through her charming illustrations, turned them into brand new mismatched earrings, and even designed adorable cat and dog necklaces exclusively for UncommonGoods.

She took some time out from being a multi-talented super artist to tell us about her road to a creative career, her process, and working with our team.

Christine Schmidt's Mismatched Earrings | Exclusively at UncommonGoods

Books and Eyeglasses, Sun and Moon, and Cat and Dog Mismatched Earrings | Exclusively at UncommonGoods

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Maker Stories

Nancy Nelson’s Bee Love Jewelry: Honeycomb, Heart, and Hive Help

August 19, 2016

Many jewelry makers would describe their collections as “playful yet sophisticated and timeless.” Nancy Nelson happens to be one of them, but she isn’t referring to a new line of fall fashion must-haves; in her world, it’s the inspiration for her work: the honeycomb. Each of her bee-based designs is a sweet but serious tribute to the awe-inspiring insects that build their own hexagonal homes, produce healthy honey, and pollinate the crops we depend on every day. Her Bee Love Necklace and Earrings were shaped by the geometry of a heart-shaped piece of honeycomb given to her by her beekeeping friend Katie, but also by the vital environmental role played by bees and the alarming threat of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).


There are many theories about what causes CCD, including fungicides, viruses, mites, and the commercial beekeeping process itself, in which colonies are stressed by being trucked all over the country to seasonally pollinate crops. But entomologists, apiary advocates, and artists alike are working hard to diagnose and respond to the crisis. “After learning about the epidemic of the bees vanishing from their hives and knowing that they pollinate a third of our diets, I realized I needed to do my part to help save the bees,” said Nancy. In response, she donates a portion of sales from her honeycomb jewelry collection to Bee Informed Partnership, a nonprofit organization addressing the decline of the honeybee population in the United States.


Recently, we asked Nancy to reflect on the connections between bees’ industrious design work, their role in a healthy ecosystem, and her own tribute to their creations. Continue Reading…

Maker Stories

Thinking Outside the Jewelry Box: Marion Cage McCollam’s Walnut and Steel Magnetic Jewelry Holder

July 21, 2016

Marion Cage McCollam considers herself a designer first, an artist second. “By that, I mean that I am more of a problem solver,” the Columbia University-trained architect says. “My background defines my work in that there is always a technical as well as a creative component to everything I do.” In other words, whether the New Orleans resident is making hardware for a home, a dog tag for a beloved pet, or a ring for a human, she pushes herself to achieve elegance in form and function.

Marion Cage McCollam | UncommonGoods

Marion Cage McCollam reflected in a row of mirrors while working in her New Orleans studio

Marion developed her fluid yet strong sensibilities when she was in her 20s working under world-renowned architect Zaha Hadid, who created the Aquatics Centre for the 2012 London Olympics among myriad other celebrated structures. “She was a mentor to me,” says Marion. After Hadid’s untimely death in March 2016, Marion found herself creating a special series: “My latest jewelry collection was inspired by the forms I was introduced to when working for her.” It’s the elegance of these shapes, as well as Marion’s thoughtfulness, that sets her work apart. The designer and Big Easy shop owner tells us about her ultimate influence and the creative process behind her latest work.

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Maker Stories

Inside the Artist’s Studio
with Alex Monroe

July 14, 2016
Alex Monroe

Alex Monroe in his London shop, photos by Emily Hodges

It’s only natural to “ooh” and “aah” over Alex Monroe’s handmade jewelry, which is inspired by beautiful botanicals, woodland animals, and beloved everyday objects. He has the craftsmanship to shape precious metals into delicate designs through traditional jewelry-making techniques and the keen artist’s sixth sense to capture the smallest intricacy. Through Alex’s eyes, no detail goes unnoticed. What’s really magical, from the engagement rings showcasing whimsical twig bands to watering can necklaces with sapphire droplets dripping from their spouts, is that a different story can unfold from each of Alex’s designs depending on the individual wearing them.

How Does Your Garden Grow? Necklace by Alex Monroe | UncommonGoods

How Does Your Garden Grow? Necklace by Alex Monroe | UncommonGoods

Upon entering Alex’s London-based shop, I was pleasantly surprised to be standing in a room that mimicked The Jungle Book. Lush trees and green plant decor covered the walls and pineapples seemed to float against the windows — yet signs of old-school civilization like binoculars, globes, and magnifying glasses peeked out on top of the jewelry displays and handmade wooden cabinets. One glance around the shop and it’s obvious that the natural world and useful objects are ongoing themes in Alex’s designs.

After visiting his shop, I had the opportunity to stop by the charming Victorian cobbled yard in south London where he first started making his own jewelry in 1986. Today, he has a team of skilled jewelers recreating his designs in that very same studio.

See inside this whimsical world and learn more about Alex’s journey as a world-renowned jewelry designer who has worked to perfect his aesthetic over the past 30 years.

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Maker Stories

Andrea Panico: 3D Printing and Reinventing the I.D. Necklace

June 24, 2016

Puppy wheelchairs, prosthetics, and pizza in space. What do these things have in common? They’ve all been 3D printed. Once the stuff of science fiction (think the replicators of Star Trek’s Enterprise), 3D printing is rapidly becoming familiar technology for artists, inventors, and industrial designers. Although 3D printing is associated with creating a wide variety of things, it’s not necessarily associated with making beautiful things. One artist who’s working on changing that is Andrea Panico, maker of our Common Edge 3D Printed Initial Necklace.

Panico Common Edge 2

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Maker Stories

A Throne For Your Trinkets: Tracy Shea’s Pedestal Jewelry Holder

April 22, 2016

Tracy Shea | Pedestal Jewelry Stand | UncommonGoods

Tracy Shea remembers her first time. As a sophomore at Ohio’s Mentor High School she took a ceramics course and was instantly hooked. “From the minute I touched clay, it’s always been something I wanted to do,” she recalls.

She scored a partial scholarship to the Cleveland Institute of the Arts, but ended up accepting a full-ride to a different college. “My parents refused to pay for an art education,” she explains. “They were like, ‘You’ll never make it as an artist.’”

Fast forward three decades and the Garrettsville, Ohio mom of two spends her days making her popular Pedestal Jewelry Holder. The lace-imprinted ceramic stand — fitted with 50 holes to hang earrings — was born from a desire to display heirloom pieces passed down to her from her aunt. Eyeing her collection “drove me to think, people have stuff that they don’t necessarily want to throw in a drawer,” she says. “People collect stuff for a reason — there are emotional ties. So this is a special place to put things that are really special.” She puts her process — and her life as an artist — on display.

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