April Ordoñez is a relative newcomer to the jewelry scene. She created her first line in 2005. Her pieces are whimsical and fun.
"My jewelry is positive, not pretentious," says Ordoñez. "It talks to you." One particular necklace carries a pendant with a quote by English novelist Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley: The Beginning is Always Today. The materials for her colorful, eclectic pieces include hand-blown Venetian glass, 14-karat gold and enamel charms, vintage glass beads, leather and sterling components. Ordoñez's designs can be viewed at www.fifty07.com.
"Jewelry is visual language," says designer and mixed-media artist Ginger Che. "A good piece can reflect exactly how you feel at that moment of your life."
Wearable art creates what Che calls yuan, a connection that can bring people together, not only with each other, but with the elements of the earth.
Che tends to mix opposites, in yin-and-yang fashion, using a soft material like denim, for example, against a hard natural element like coral or shell. "I consider my work and jewelry to be for the contemporary goddess, women who have a connection to the earth but are very urban at the same time," she says. Her designs can be found online at red-ginger.com and in her Bird Rock gallery, located at 5726 La Jolla Blvd.
Che, like most designers of handmade pieces, collects gems, beads, antique jewelry, baubles and trinkets "like a mad woman," she says.
Her search for usable materials ranges from trips abroad to find exotic wood beads and gemstones to treasure hunting through San Diego's antique and thrift stores.
Local designer Linda Winkler, creator of Linda Winkler Jewelry Designs, began her search for design ideas in Baja California. She says her primary source of inspiration is the sea: "I think Mother Nature is my biggest influence."
In the beginning, Winkler made shell earrings for her friends while barefoot on the beaches of Cabo San Lucas. Now, for her ever-growing clientele, she combines things like abalone, coral and pearls with suede and sterling silver to create what she calls "high-quality daily wear."
Her custom designs are creative, unique, versatile and made to be worn. "If they're not wearing it, it doesn't serve them," says Winkler. She has a line of wraps (necklaces that can be worn in a variety of ways) and her "Whim" necklaces feature a hook that allows the wearer to change pendants to match outfits and moods.
Winkler also makes custom pieces and a few designs for men, including what she describes as a "totally cool fossil on black suede with sterling hook-and-eye clasp." Her designs can be seen online at www.lindawinkler.com.
Vintage clothing aficionado and designer Elisa Gonsalves of Soul Source by Eli (www.soul sourcebyeli.com) employs "any type of material to create new designs.... I use anything from vintage pieces, leather, horn, bone, glass, pearls," she says.
Some of her designs reflect her cultural heritage-Day of the Dead calaveras (skulls) and crosses and a "medley of images" that remind her of her family. Her work is showing and selling in 20 stores around San Diego, including The Basement and North Park's Kate Ross.
Michelle Tamoush of Moush.art Jewelry and Design began her career by selling earrings to Cirque du Soleil musicians who liked her work. Tamoush now makes jewelry in a variety of styles by wire wrapping, a process that involves the use of tools-bent nose pliers, for example-to bind and twist metals like sterling silver and gold-filled wire around gemstones.
"I really like working with people one-on-one in terms of jewelry or an aesthetic," Tamoush says. "My friends are my greatest customers." And, like most handcrafted-jewelry designers, her business is growing steadily by word of mouth.
Tamoush's most recent pieces are made of wood, gold, white coral, carnelian and peridot, and can be viewed online at www.moushart.com. Her jewelry is currently available at Virgin Vintage in Hillcrest, Maeve Riley Boutique, Mabel's, Highway One Gifts (in Cayucos, Calif.) and Veronica M.
Award-winning local gemologist and designer Vickie Riggs made the transition from graphic design to jewelry, and her experiments led her to goldsmithing. She creates heirloom-quality jewelry with gemstones and precious metals. Riggs, a board member of the Women's Jewelry Association, edits the association's newsletter, and her pieces can be viewed at www.vickieriggsdesigns.com.