“The jeweler allows me to wear the sapphire blue lake on my finger, the emerald green leaves around my neck, and take the citrine sunset with me wherever I go. Jewelry has become my daytime link to nature in an office with no windows. And if I have to work late, there’s nothing like diamond stars and a pearl full moon against an onyx night sky.” ~Astrid Alauda, “Office With No Windows”
For this month’s Dream Maker Series, I Dream of Pretty Things caught up with Yelena “Lena” Carlson, the talented artist behind Yelena’s Bijoux jewelry boutique. I’m pretty excited about this series and this first post is extra special because Lena happens to be my step mom. Specializing in semi-precious stones, Lena’s creations are hand-crafted, modern, elegant, and truly timeless. I count myself pretty lucky because I happen to own several original pieces and can truly say that they are absolutely beautiful and total “head turners.”
Lena’s formal education and training was in fashion and her eye for beauty and construction as well as appreciation for quality and detail has served her well in all of her artistic endeavors throughout her life. In 2007, Lena began to explore the fascinating world of minerals, and other organic materials used for jewelry making. As she began her informal education through research, trips to jewelry shows, and good old-fashioned experimentation, she found her passion in the rich, diverse textures and colors of different stones. Lena’s dream came together when she began making jewelry pieces for family and friends. It didn’t take long for her loved ones to spread the word about her business which eventually led to the opening of Yelena’s Bijoux Etsy shop. Today, Lena creates beautiful custom pieces for Houstonians in the know as well as customers all over the world through her online boutique and private jewelry shows. Now it’s time to get to Lena and see some fabulous jewelry!
GETTING TO KNOW YOU
IDOPT: Where do you find inspiration for your designs?
LC: My greatest inspiration comes from the gems themselves. I also keep in touch with changing fashion. I follow my favorite clothing designers like Valentino, Elie Saab and Antonio Berardi. And, of course, my customers inspire me!
IDOPT: What qualities should people consider when purchasing semi precious stone jewelry?
LC: Semi precious stone jewelry is a great value because it is a cost-effective way to get a beautiful look. I recommend jewelry made with sterling silver or gold filled alloy instead of gold plate because gold plate wears out quickly. High quality necklaces should be knotted because they rest and flow better on your neck or chest. High quality stones have high luster, and if transparent, they have fewer internal characteristics. Lastly, remember that it is always good idea to try jewelry on if you are not sure whether if it will look good on you. You may surprise yourself!
IDOPT: What is your favorite piece that you’ve designed?
LC: I have several favorites. I love the contrasts among colors and forms in my Coral and Black Onyx Necklace. I also like the variety of shapes of the stones in my Blue Chalcedony and Rose Gold Necklace; the gorgeous color combinations of the Chandelier Earrings; and the Mother Nature-created shapes, colors and texture in the Keshi Pearl Necklace!
IDOPT: How long does a custom project generally take you from start to finish?
LC: It depends on a several factors, most importantly the length of time in finding the right stones and metal materials, the size and elaborateness of the piece and the difficulty of putting it together. It can range from a few days to a few weeks.
For example, I received an international order for a necklace for a German client. She was described to me as a “tall blond woman with a large bust.” I recommended a necklace of about 23 inches that would complement her beautiful décolletage. As for the stones, I selected citrine and apatite stones to highlight her blond hair. These stones were so inspiring and my design concept came to me immediately. After I had all of the materials, it took me no more than two or three hours to put the necklace together.
On the other hand, some custom pieces can take a few weeks. This happens frequently when a client has a specific request or idea. One of my clients wanted a large pearl five strand collar necklace and seven strand pearl bracelet. I took the measurements and made a pattern of the collar necklace on paper (that is where my fashion designer skills came in handy). It took me about three weeks to finish that project. After knotting each strand of the necklace, I had a fitting session with her to make sure that it fit her neck just right.
IDOPT: What do you find most enjoyable about making jewelry?
LC: I enjoy working with treasures that nature has created, and I enjoy the process of design when simple strands of stones transform into a harmonious arrangement. I also like seeing the joy and excitement on women’s faces when they put them on!
IDOPT: Where do you find your stones and materials?
LC: I primarily shop on the internet and visit gem shows. In the future, I hope to travel afar in search of the perfect gems.
IDOPT: Fall is here! What will you be designing to complement fall colors and styles?
LC: Statement-making necklaces seem to be never ending! They are very popular and on trend and ideal when you want to amp up a plain white tee and jeans or any dark fall outfit. Putting one on can automatically upgrade an otherwise simple outfit.
Pieces I am thinking about are large one-stone earrings in green (green Onyx, Emerald, Chrysoprase), purple (Amethyst), blue (Lapis Lazuli, Chalcedony, Labradorite), and deep red (Garnet, Ruby, Coral). I also love very non-traditional pearl necklaces and hope to create one very soon!
I Dream of Pretty Things