Our Blog

  1. Designer Spotlight: Jennie Kwon

    We first met Jennie over 8 years ago when we came across her work on a small blog. Jennie (JK as we like to call her!) was  new to the world of jewelry, having taken a leap of faith away from her law career  - a calling that came alongside new motherhood and metalsmithing classes that ignited her creativity.

    "I was looking for an exit strategy from the law. I had been practicing as a corporate attorney and attorney at a big studio in LA for around 5 years, and it really sapped my soul of life. After having my twins, I had to reset and reevaluate what was meaningful to me. During maternity leave, I stumbled upon a metalsmithing class and it really resonated with me- the design aspect felt very organic. I realized that I had a voice of my own and wanted to share that with people."

    Over the years, we have carried countless different styles of Jennie's - pieces that style and stack perfectly in the Catbird world.

    Read on for an interview with Jennie and a peek behind the scenes of her LA studio.

    What is your first jewelry memory?

    My first jewelry memory is of my mom buying me a necklace in LA's jewelry district when I was probably around 6 years old.  It was a tiny rabbit and I was very much in awe, as my parents were always working their tails off as first generation immigrants and I realized that this was probably a big purchase for them.  Little did they (or I) know that it was the Playboy logo that I was wearing around elementary school!

    How did you know it was time to take a leap of faith in your career into jewelry?

    I came into this blind and for that, I'm so grateful.  I didn't know a single jewelry store, designer, trend... coming from a career in law without any connections in the jewelry industry, there was a certain naivete in my designs that I envy now.  I designed a spider web because I loved their level of detail, an onyx ring because I loved the statement it made, and on.  Just one month in after I launched my very poorly done website, Rony found me through a blog and believed in my designs enough to bring them into Catbird.  So there was really no turning point.  JKD sort of took on a life of its own.

    What does jewelry mean to you?

    Jewelry now has a very different meaning than what it used to have to me.  It's now a symbol of something I am extremely proud of accomplishing in my life.  I never ever thought I'd end up where I am now, coming from a more traditional, academic background.  It's also much more meaningful than what it's meant for me in the past, as I was never a collector of fine jewelry.  I wore jewelry as a fashion statement.  Our clients show us daily, how much meaning is attached to something so preciously diminutive.  They've shared stories of our pieces symbolizing a big career move, a child that they've lost, celebration of self in light of a recent divorce, marriage, graduation from college, friendship, and the list goes on.  To know that we're making things of so much weight is truly an honor.

    Where do you look for inspiration?

    This is one of those questions that always stresses me out for some reason.  My designs really are just a reflection of what I find beautiful.  I don't look in any particular place for inspiration.  Oftentimes, I work with stones and want to honor them by capturing their beauty in the cleanest way possible.  I love balance and clean design.  I love texture and symmetry.  I love the miracle of all of the detail and intricate beauty you find in nature.

    What do you kids think about your jewelry?

    We have a piece named after each of my kids, so of course they love their own namesake the best!  They're so proud of their mama. 

    What are you most proud of in your brand?

    The authenticity we project, as we've never been shy about being clear about even our non jewelry viewpoints, and because of that, we have a very solid and large repeat customer base that we truly appreciate.

    Describe a perfect day in LA.

    I love my city so much.  It's where I grew up, and where I decided to grow roots after leaving for school.  It sounds cliche, but I love grabbing brunch with my family, then going on a hike.  After that, we'd roam a bookstore and grab coffee.  Lunch in Koreatown- the best food ever.  Then we'll hang out with friends at the beach and that's it!

    Advice for young designers or makers who are looking to take the same leap you did. 

    Make sure to have a clear point of view, as this industry is already so congested with so many pieces looking similar.  You want to make sure you come in with something new to offer.  Once you have found your voice, just dive in.  You don't have to invest a ton into starting a jewelry line- I started with a small handful of pieces and a very modest website.  Put it out into the universe and see how people respond.

    What future plans for Jennie Kwon most excite you? 

    Continuing to do what we do.  We've grown into a small but formidable team.  We now have our own jewelers and are looking to expand into hiring our own stone setters this coming year.  Slowly bringing everything in house has been something I'm very proud of.

    Shop Jennie Kwon

  2. Catbird Spotlight: Regina Yazdi

    Regina Yazdi is a fashion illustrator based in Los Angeles, though we first crossed paths with her in New York in 2014. We first met Regina ahead of our 10 year anniversary and launch of our first engagement ring line, The Swans. Naturally for the launch, we wanted to commission a swan illustration, and her fluid, swooping swan is still an illustration we treasure today - so much so that we wanted to reinvent it for our 2021 Holiday bandana.

    For this new design, Regina and our creative director Leigh talked about a closer look at our Catbird Swan, maybe crying some pearl tears or swimming through a pearl bubble, framed in black bows. The background Leigh felt should be a pale blue, and there would be an orange beak, she had been thinking a lot about bits of orange details!

    Read on to learn more about Regina, her art, and the Swans of Catbird.

    On becoming and being an artist..

    The Art life started young. The first images burned into our minds as children are book illustrations and animations so I naturally became curious and obsessed with drawing. I'd bolt home from school and plop my belly on the floor to practice drawing off the screen during my favorite shows. I'd even invent side characters and daydream them into the storylines. I was drunk off the power of creation at 6...stationed in the eye of my paper tornado. You just come out that way I suppose.

    As I grew, I dreamed about becoming a designer while poreing over the pages of Vogue, W, Mode Et Mode and streaming Tim Blanks interviews on Style.com nightly. I love the mechanics behind design- seeing what people can do with their hands and imagination is so moving. Fashion was a natural progression as I loved figure drawing so much.

    Working commercially as a fashion illustrator over the past decade has brought many beautiful experiences and people into my life. Creating in collaboration allows for experimentation and travel, simultaneously expanding and refining my taste. I have a stronger sense of my artistic vision now. 

    I look up to cultural polymaths like Dali and Cecil Beaton whose styles permeated seamlessly across mediums. I see myself being rooted in fine art, occasionally taking on brand deals and design projects that spark my interest like they did. I'd be perfectly content doing this for the rest of my life.

    On the Swans..

    I fell in love with Catbird at our first meeting. Swans are steeped in fairytales and represent eternal love, beauty and overcoming awkward childhoods. I'm on board with all that so the idea for the logo came easy.

    I saw it vividly in my mind as a fluid, swooping line and drafted it onto a piece of scrap tracing paper. I tried many versions after but never could recapture the spontaneity of the first draft so I went back and cleaned up the original. And that's how it was born...so happy and honored it's with you guys 

    On jewelry..

    I love jewelry for its beauty and ability to recall memories. Jewelry is small yet potent in all that it symbolizes... time, wealth, beauty and love - everything we hold precious.


    I keep all the jewelry I own in a ballet pink Aspinal box. I've really taken time during the pandemic to consolidate and edit  down my belongings. I'm really into investment pieces and started wearing larger stone rings and necklaces alone or mixed with minimal stacks. So I'd say my style is very curated and piece driven.

    On her culture and how it influences her creative process..

    I come from two ancient cultures and I've always felt like an old soul in my body.


    The Poets of Persia taught me how to grace my awareness onto the  fleeting moments and intimate details of life. Bending and expanding your perception is what art is all about.


    The Chinese calligraphers and painters gave me lessons on balance, restraint, and visual aesthetics. What you leave out of a piece is just as important as what you put in.


    I feel really lucky to be mixed raced. I inherited an openness to different possibilities of living early on. It's in that field of mental openness that creativity can thrive.

    Describe your work in three words.

    I'd like it to feel genuine, beautiful and eternal.

    Where do you look for inspiration in LA and NYC?

    It changes all the time since LA is massive but right now I'm on a floral kick with Little Tokyo, Flower District, Descanso Gardens, and the Huntington Library.


    In New York I love browsing through Neue Galerie, MOMA, the MET , Doverstreet Market, and of course Catbird!

    How will you be spending the holiday season?

    My favorite way to celebrate is low-key in loose clothing , cooking, eating and being completely unfiltered with my loved ones. 

    And the bandana! How will you be styling it?

    I am packing my lunches now since the studio is pretty secluded...I'm thinking a Furoshiki for my bentos - practical yet beautiful for everyday use. I hope everyone loves theirs! 

    Regina's Shopping Edit

  3. Meet Our Stylists

    SASKIA!

    PERSONAL STYLE

    Overall my style is very laid back, but I go all out with my jewelry! I am usually wearing a mix of vintage and new jewelry.

    YOUR JEWELRY UNIFORM

    Always earrings, a necklace I made with my mom's and my name written in Mongolian, and a ton of rings!

    FAVORITE PAIRING

    So many to choose from! My top two favorite ring pairings are my stacks with the Marrakech Ring, Pas De Deux, Beacen Ring Mother of Pearl, and Three Step Triangle Ring, and my stack with the Famous Letter Ring, Demi Circlet Band, Braided Ring and the Secret Garden Ring.

    TOP OF THE WISHLIST

    Snow Queen Ring in yellow gold

    STYLING TIP

    I love mixing metals! Most of my jewelry is made in yellow gold but I love mixing a little silver and rose gold in there for a little contrast.

    JASMINE!

    PERSONAL STYLE

    Colorful & out there - a mix of Catbird and vintage pieces.

    YOUR JEWELRY UNIFORM

    So. many. stacking rings. Top knuckle rings are a must!

    FAVORITE PAIRING

    Twisted Stacker ring with anything: Grand Mignon, Threadbare, and Classic Hammered rings.

    TOP OF THE WISHLIST

    Painter's Ring, Aquamarine Choker and Bracelet.

    STYLING TIP

    Fasten your necklaces a couple of inches in between when you layer them, like the 1976 Choker, then the Greco Lariat, then a longer one like the Adjustable Sweet Nothing Chain. This can help with tangling! 

    KATE!

    PERSONAL STYLE

    Vintage and colorful.

    YOUR JEWELRY UNIFORM

    8+ stacking rings and Grand Cygnet ring, earrings (bigger the better) and two chokers.

    FAVORITE PAIRING

    Chained to My Heart Earrings + Diamond Greco Earrings.

    TOP OF THE WISHLIST

    Baby Deco Emerald ring, Angel hair Necklace, Baby Grand Mineral Hoops.

    STYLING TIP

    Always add texture to your stacks to create a more unique look + add weight (charms/pendants) to your necklaces to avoid tangling.

    LINDSAY!

    PERSONAL STYLE

    My style is classic, colorful, fun and durable (I almost never take my jewelry off!)

    YOUR JEWELRY UNIFORM

    My Sparkler Earrings with a Scoop of Turquoise Stud, Tinsel Chain with The Met Souvenir and 18th Century Bow charms, and my three welded Forever Bracelets twinkling together.

    FAVORITE PAIRING

    I love my Little Disco Ring between two Classic Hammered Rings and my Twisted Stacker on top of my Tomboy is my newest ring combo.

    TOP OF THE WISHLIST

    The Leo Black Snake Hair Pin and the Cassi Namoda Red Moon Necklace.

    STYLING TIP

    We love mixing a white gold bracelet into our yellow gold welded bracelet stacks in Soho, it adds such a fun extra sparkle to your wrist!  

    SAMANTHA!

    PERSONAL STYLE

    Second hand everything.

    YOUR JEWELRY UNIFORM

    A flowy dress, my Sweet Nothing Adjustable Chain with my Letter Cutie Charm (engraved with a J for my beau), my Tomboy First Knuckle Ring (I always feel so naked without it), I like to wear dangly earrings in my second and third piercings because they stand out with a mask! I like my Hoop Dream with my Tiniest Key Charm and a Chime earring for fun.

    FAVORITE PAIRING

    Lately in my first piercing I’ve been wearing a Full Heart Charm on a Big Hoop Dream in each ear and it’s so so fun.

    TOP OF THE WISHLIST

    Diamond Fizz Ring, Sparkler!!! I just can’t decide where to wear it! Or a Snow Queen Hoop!

    STYLING TIP

    I like to mix some clasp bracelets with charms on the same wrist as forever bracelets! I’ve been wearing my met souvenir charm and a mermaid treasure on a clasped tinsel bracelet and I love how it looks layered with my forever sweet nothing & 1976 bracelet!

  4. Catbird Spotlight: Cece Jewellery

    We are so excited to announce the international debut of CECE JEWELLERY. A collection of 18k gold necklaces and rings featuring the finest enameling, as if painted by a single kitten whisker.

    We chatted a bit with Cecelia Hughes aka Cece, an art historian turned jeweler, to find out more about her process and inspiration behind her pieces - including a very special Catbird exclusive.

    What is your first jewelry memory?

    Travelling around India with my family and becoming obsessed with all the jewellery sold in the markets - packs and packs of gold and multicoloured sparkly bangles… a little girls heaven!

    What does jewelry mean to you?

    It's my form of expression. Being a jeweller who works from home, means 90% of the time I'm wearing comfy leggings and an oversized T-shirt, jewellery is my way of making me feel fabulous (even in PJs).

    What originally sparked your interest in pursuing jewelry design?

    I was diagnosed with an autoimmune illness after leaving university, which meant I couldn’t live life at the same pace as other 20-something year olds! This also put a lot of pressure on my mental health. After taking a year to slow down and soul search, I found jewellery making! Being able to create with my hands was so therapeutic that I fell in love instantly… I have now recovered fully from my illness, but wouldn’t have changed it for the world, as it led me to where I am today.

    What historical jewelry / art are you inspired by?

    Both Byzantine & traditional Indian jewellery!

    What has been your favorite design to make from this selection?

     I would say the Catbird exclusive The Swan & Reed. It was my first time creating an enamel design based on someone else’s idea and it was so exciting to be able to bring it to life!

    Can you describe the process of making these pieces?

    There are 5 crucial steps to the making of each piece, all meticulously thought through and carefully executed… 

    Design. All my pieces start at my kitchen table surrounded by books such as ‘V&A Jewels & Jewellery’ and the ‘Grimm Brothers’ fairy-tales, a colourful array of pencils & watercolours, my laptop of course, and a candle or two to get me in the zone.


    Make. All the signet rings and pendants are handmade from my jewellery bench at home, forged from the deep and rich recycled 18ct yellow gold.


    Enamel. I then send the pieces to my enameller who engraves and hand paints each design in miniature. As every different layer of enamel paint is applied, the piece must be fired in a kiln. This process is repeated until the finished painting comes to life!


    Diamonds. I then pass the jewellery on to my wonderful stone setters in Hatton Garden, the diamond district of London, where they star-set teeny tiny glittery diamonds to complete each miniature scene…


    Finish. Finally, the pieces are back with me, where I give the overall surface a matte finish. This results in a buttery, frosted surface - bringing out the beautiful deep colours of the enamel paintings. 


    TA DA! 

    Describe a perfect day in London.

    It would start off with a long Saturday morning sitting in bed with my boyfriend Dan and our sweet little fur baby, Lucky. A tray of croissants, jam, butter and coffee from our local bakery in the middle of it all…  

    An afternoon spent in Notting Hill visiting my all-time favourite haberdashery called The Cloth Shop, I could spend hours sifting through their various striped French linens, or Indian block print cottons. Always an inspiration.

    The evening would be spent with friends in a cosy, fairy-lit pub garden. Somewhere local, sharing bottles of wine until I decide it’s way past my bedtime and jump in an uber home. Ready for a sleepy Sunday! 

    How did you begin your journey with enamel?

    In some ways, my journey has just begun! While researching ancient jewellery in the treasure trove that is the Victoria & Albert Museum archives, I fell in love with an old Victorian wedding band, enamelled with pink flowers all the way around. I decided to begin experimenting with my own designs, and through lots of (expensive!) trial and error, I finally created a collection I am happy with! I can’t wait for the journey to continue…

    Can you tell us a bit about the enameller you work with?

    My London enameller is wonderful and works effortlessly on each design I send his way! He is a Master Enameller and a member of the Goldsmith Company, Freeman to the City of London – which is a prestigious title that has been given to those with excellent goldsmithing craftsmanship for over 700 years. 

    Did you face any challenges in getting the collection going? And, have you encountered any obstacles that you have learned from?

    Yes!! I came across quite a few hiccups along the way. Enamel is a very particular material to work with. In order to bring out the richness in colour you must choose 18ct gold as your metal (75% pure gold), which you can imagine becomes expensive when you get a design wrong… 

    The Shark & Anchor (my favourite design) was one of the hardest to create, as it was imperative to get the expression right. One tiny dot for an eye in the wrong place and we have to do it all over again!

    Have you been to New York? If so, what do you think of it?

    Yes – I LOVE New York. I think I love it so much because it feels very similar to London. (I’m a bit of a home bunny). The energy, the pace of life, the culture, the weather (!!)… I can’t wait for the world to open up again so I can come and visit once more.

    Shop Cece's Collection

  5. Three Looks - Morgan

    We have always admired the way Morgan stacks and styles her Catbird pieces to be so quintessentially her! She is a longtime customer and we have enjoyed connecting with her (via Instagram!) over the years. We asked her to show us how she styles her Catbird for three different looks in her day-to-day life down in Florida!

    LOOK ONE

    Getting ready for lunch after a long swim at the beach.

    SHOP THE LOOK

    LOOK TWO

    After lunch and a nap, walking with my little gal Amelia. She loves looking at flowers on the island.

    SHOP THE LOOK

    LOOK THREE

    Getting ready for date night, after walking and more swimming at the beach.

    SHOP THE LOOK

  6. The Catbird Giving Fund Spotlight: Kurandza

    The Catbird Giving Fund is so proud to support Kurandza in honor of our new collection with artist Cassi Namoda. Kurandza is a grassroots nonprofit based in Mozambique that provides holistic schooling for over 200 girls and counting!  When you give a girl an education,  she’s more likely to earn a higher income, provide healthcare and opportunities for her family, and send her own daughters to school someday, breaking the cycle of poverty. This is why empowering girls within their own community has always been one of Catbird Giving Fund's primary areas of focus. Below is the story of Kurandza through founder Elisabetta Colabianchi.

    What originally brought you to Mozambique?

    In 2014 I joined the Peace Corps and my first assignment brought me to a rural village in Mozambique where I volunteered in the maternal and infant health department at the hospital, Centro de Saúde of Guijá. My work there included counseling HIV+ women on the prevention and transmission to their babies. While I was there I fell in love with the people, the lifestyle and honestly everything about the country and from there I became very integrated into the community. In addition to learning the national language of Portuguese, I loved learning the local language (Changana) and building strong friendships with many of the women in the community, which then inspired me to continue working and living there. 

    Kurandza originally started as a sewing cooperative in Mozambique. Can you elaborate on how its focus has evolved over time?

    We started as a sewing cooperative, but because of our grassroots approach, we’re able to shift with the community needs. In 2016, the drought and hunger crisis hit Mozambique. This propelled us to bring our first campaign to life, raising enough funds to give food aid to a select group of HIV+ women and their families as well as all the women in the sewing cooperative. From this we started envisioning the real possibilities of bringing the community together. Over the years, we assessed the differences between short-term fixes and long-term impact, and we began to recognize that the earlier a girl receives support in her life, the more sustainable her growth, development, and community impact will likely be. And so, we shifted our focus to education. We began with the sponsorship of Lindsey Brianna, and in just three months, she was counting in English, reciting poetry in Portuguese, and had a newfound curiosity about the world around her. In the fall of 2017, we launched the first #IStandForGirls campaign with the goal of sending 100 girls to school. This was the start of Kurandza as we know it today. Since then, we have witnessed the transformative power of education and focused our efforts on providing scholarships, resources, and psychosocial support to all of our students.

    How many students does the program sponsor currently and across what education levels does the program span?

    Currently we have 200 girls and 5 boys enrolled in our program spanning from preschool through high school. Next month we will launch our partnerships with students at local universities who will come on as interns with Kurandza--serving as “mentor leaders” for the girls in our new mentorship program.

    Kurandza takes a holistic approach to each student’s education. Can you talk a bit about what that entails?

    Since the start of our girls education program, we’ve come to realize that education involves much more than just school attendance. It’s about access to all of the tools that allow and support someone to actually become educated. To be at the same level as the other students begins with a uniform, but it also includes reliable and safe transportation, proper school supplies like rulers and protractor sets, art materials, textbooks, notebooks, and pencils. Additionally, it involves holistic care, which means helping with the social aspects of their lives, too, since social and home situations are often strongly correlated with academic performance. We take special care with the most at risk girls who are HIV+, pregnant, or dealing with abuse or malnutrition, and offer counseling, mentorship, and social support for all 200 girls in our program, with the long-term goal of supporting the girls through high school, and going on to reach their full potential.

    How has the pandemic affected Kurandza’s efforts and the student’s education?

    The pandemic has widened the literacy gap globally, especially in the rural villages where we do most of our work. With the schools closed for over a year, we have seen a decline in the girls’ literacy, but now that the lockdown is over, we are finally able to implement our literacy workshops to get the girls back up to the national standard level pre-Covid. A year out of the classroom has also caused a significant increase in the dropout and teen pregnancy rates. In an effort to provide extra support and counseling to these girls, we’ve brought on additional team members who also serve as the impetus to start our waterfall-model mentorship program. Our newest Kurandza team members are part of the 1% of Mozambican women to graduate college, and will be working alongside local college students, acting as mentor leaders for the high school mentors, who will then be placed in groups of 10 younger girls (mentees)-- with each generation guiding the next.

    What are you envisioning for the future of Kurandza?

    I’m excited about the future of Kurandza! This year has been a year of renewal and transformation, growing our leadership team in Mozambique, and strengthening our programs. I’m looking forward to continuing to build out our mentorship program by involving more women leaders and together creating the next generation of female leaders in Mozambique. Heading towards 300 girls, this year we want to support even more girls in the community, and in the long-term we have dreams of developing a leadership academy and curriculum.
    On the US side, we’re looking forward to cultivating community and building relationships with aligned individuals and companies, so that we can work together towards this shared vision. Together is always better!

    What is one of your favorite success stories?

    The first story that came to mind is 10-year-old Ayanda. She was one of the first babies I met after arriving in Mozambique 10 years ago. When we started our girls education program in 2017, Ayanda was in the founding group of girls as a first grader. Her mother, Gelar, like many of the women in the village, never had access to education like Ayanda does, and knew her daughter deserved to have more opportunities in life. Ayanda was initially so apprehensive about going to school 4 years ago. She was afraid and wasn’t used to seeing other people in her family or her sphere of influence attending school. But once she received her very own uniform and backpack full of school supplies, she gained confidence and purpose in attending school. She is now one of the girls who is always excited and happy to attend school, and she has one of the best attendance records of all the girls in our program. Seeing her flourish has been one of the most rewarding experiences for me.

    Where do you look for motivation and inspiration?

    I get motivated to push through the difficulties when I see how much this work means to our team in Mozambique (and the US). Our team works day and night to help empower girls to have a say in their future, and they constantly encourage me to keep on working towards our shared vision. Talking with the girls and hearing about their progress also empowers me, because it shows me that we are making a tangible difference and that this work matters. I’m also constantly inspired by the creative community of women I’ve met on Instagram :)

    Learn more about Kurandza's 2020 impact

    Shop our collection with Cassi Namoda

  7. Photo Journal: Anthony + Austin

    My son and I were checking out at our favorite bookstore, Books Are Magic, when I noticed Anthony's perfect Catbird stacks and they noticed my Catbird email! Learning that they and their partner, Austin, get each other Catbird jewelry for meaningful occassions is the best possible thing I could ever hear. We invited Anthony & Austin to spend the afternoon with us and chat about all things jewelry and love! 

    -- Rony, Founder & Co-Creative Director

    Where are you both originally from?

    Austin: We moved around a lot growing up, my mom had a restless heart. But, for me Sebastopol, California always felt like my home with vivid memories of misty mornings and ancient redwoods.

    Anthony: I grew up on Long Island, we also moved around a lot, my parents are divorced and bouncing back and forth between them unfortunately nothing really felt like home. I do sometimes miss being able to just walk outside to lay in the grass and read.

    How did you meet?

    Anthony: We actually met on OkCupid. After talking for awhile we decided to set a date to get coffee in the East Village. The day of our date I rushed onto the subway platform and I thought I saw someone who looked familiar, so I turned to them and said “Austin?”. It turned out that we actually lived off the same subway stop in Bushwick, and our apartments were only 4 blocks away from each other. Our date started on the subway platform and fast forward 7 years, here we are. It does seem pretty unreal how much of a rom-com our first date was like, after coffee we started walking around and we happened to walk down a street where they were filming a movie and it was completely covered in fake snow in the middle of summer. We got ice cream at the end and when Austin forgot the word for bench (I guess because he was nervous, something he’ll never fully admit) he asked if we should sit down on the “long chair” which I’ve never let him forget.

    What are your jewelry uniforms?

    Austin: I always wear a stack of yellow and rose gold hammered rings with a Cosmic Witch Ring, mirrored on the other hand with a Twisted Stacker and an opal and diamond Sleeping Beauty Ring. I love a healthy flow of necklaces so I’ll wear a Sleeping Beauty, Unicorn Horseshoe, and a Tinsel Chain with a Fort Tilden Charm regularly. I love a good anklet so I always wear a Sweet Nothing with a Mermaid Treasure Charm even over my nursing compression socks, it gets a lot of attention on the unit. And as my grandma always said, "A lady always has a string of pearls!" So with that in mind I always wear a pearl bracelet, whether it’s a string of Catbird Sweet Sixteen pink pearls or a Serpentine Delilah Pearl Bracelet. Then there’s earrings I never leave home without at least four! 

    Anthony: The thing I wear every day, because I can’t actually take it off is my Forever Sweet Nothing Bracelet that matches Austin’s. It’s only ever come off once, after our cat Dorito clawed it off getting a little too rambunctious playing tag. My Gentle Spider Charm crawls to different spots everyday, sometimes I wear it on my 1976 Bracelet or on my Sweet Nothing Chain, or I’ll hook it onto the backing of an earring stud. I never actually take my rings off, I have a mix of different Catbird rings stacked with a Black Diamond Tiniest Ring, Naga Snake Ring, and Moon Guardian Ring from Sofia Zakia.

    So you both have quite the Catbird collection! 

    Austin: It was actually Anthony that first introduced me to Catbird. For our first anniversary Anthony surprised me with a dinner date at Beauty & Essex - and I’d been living as a pretty broke nursing student then so it was pretty impressive! Anyway, towards the end of our dinner, Anthony presented me with my very first piece of my Catbird collection, a Classic Hammered Ring. Now it’s almost been seven years since that day and it’s still my most treasured piece of my collection.

    Anthony: Later that year Austin completely surprised me with a Catbird Rose Thorn necklace for Yule. It’s been a tradition to get each other Catbird pieces ever since.

    What does jewelry mean to you both?

    Austin: For me jewelry is magic, from the inherent power lying in the natural stones to the dedication of the inspired artist that made them - pure magic! I also connect very deeply with jewelry and my grandmother - she had an impressive collection with some original Tiffany pieces to family heirlooms. I recall getting ready with her, trying on some of her necklaces and huge strings of pearls, and sorting through her collection with her to get her jewelry uniform on for the day.

    Anthony: I have a deep fascination with medieval alchemy. Gold was one of seven metals they used to represent the heavenly bodies. Gold fittingly represented the sun, and jewelry makes me feel like I’m wearing rays of sunlight.

    When did you know it was love?

    Anthony: As gushy as it sounds, the first time we told each other we loved each other, I had been reading Austin short stories as the sun was setting and we were just laying in my bed and staring into each other’s eyes, and in that moment I knew it was love. He was able to ground me and know me unlike anyone ever had. That’s when we first told each other “I love you” though he always says that he said it first.

    Describe your perfect New York day together!

    Austin: Quite recently we had a pretty perfect New York day together this April. First, we have found that every perfect day has to start with brunch with a few mimosas. Anthony then took me to the Brooklyn botanical gardens for the very first time - it was simply incredible surrounded by newly flowering cherry blossoms, a beautiful Japanese garden, and flower petals gently blowing through the air. We then traveled into the Lower East Side, visited a pencil store owned by one of Anthony’s friends, picked up a bouquet of peonies, and a jar of pickles from a newly opened book store. Towards the end of the day I think we had walked close to 12 miles, so we made our way back to our Bushwick home and treated ourselves to some pretty amazing Chinese takeout. 

    A + A 's Shopping Edit

  8. Catbird Spotlight: Chelsea Mak

    "Like if Norma Kamali skipped cotillion to go to a punk show and then met her godfather for dim sum the next morning before reporting for work in her 80s power suit," is how LA based designer Chelsea Mak describes her eponymous clothing line. How does she wear her own work? "The more unexpected the combination the better...with good jewelry, like all my Catbird pieces!"

    effortless dress is a balancing act inspired by Chelsea’s childhood

    I was born and raised in LA but spent a large part of my childhood in Hong Kong and Taiwan where my parents are from, living in Hong Kong from ages 2 to 6 and then visiting every summer thereafter.

    Being connected to both LA and Hong Kong definitely made such impressions on my style. From LA it was the laid-back casual way of dressing, I learned from early on that even if you spent hours putting an outfit together it should come across like it took you seconds.  From Hong Kong it was the opposite — flip flops and jeans might be considered sloppy so it was a balancing act to exist in both worlds which has translated through my designs — a balancing act between old and new world, high and low brow, east and west.

     

    dressing for this newest spring we’ve been waiting for

    I’m really into the idea of using the Vienna Blouse as a light jacket over everything and the more unexpected the combination the better. I have a floor length muslin slip dress I’d like to wear over it as well as a vintage Norma Kamali piece that’s a white cotton onesie; over jeans and nude bodysuit would be cool too. All with good jewelry, like all my Catbird pieces!

     

    what you can’t stop imagining is worth the pursuit.

     Striking out on my own felt a lot like jumping off a cliff unplanned for.  At the time I was working for a brand I believed in, a boss I looked up to and co-workers I loved also but I could not stop thinking about what the main label of the brand would look like if I started one.  There were so many huge unknowns but I knew that I wouldn’t have been happy if I stayed where I was so I took the plunge.  It was very scary for the first few months but also very exciting.

    The Vienna, Amalia and Gallery blouses are the core pieces in the line so designing a new collection will always feel a bit like building out a wardrobe around those three pieces.  Since they are all quite feminine and bold and in the classic silk white taffeta, I like the other pieces to be more masculine, unassuming and offbeat. 

     A large part of the collection is made from deadstock silks found at the fabric market in Shanghai so those qualities very much dictate how each collection will look.  I also find a lot of inspiration in old movies, books, and bands so each of my collections will usually reflect how I was feeling during that moment in time.

    How Our Team Wears Chelsea Mak & Catbird 

    "I want women wearing Chelsea Mak to command a type of attention that you wouldn’t get from other brands, it’s more about feeling smart and interesting than sexy and showy.Women who wear Chelsea Mak are creative, well-read and in the know and that’s a lot of us!"

    Airina wears the Gallery Blouse with a Dollhouse Locket slung on a Tinsel Chain paired with a Sweet Nothing Choker and a Snow Queen Ear Climber.

    Tatiana wears the Jaffe Top with a slew of Catbird Classics. 

    Earrings: Snow Queen Hoop, Heart Stud, Little Secret

    Necklaces: Gumball Pearl Charm, 18th Century Bow Charm, Anemone Charm on a Sweet Nothing Choker.

    Chelsea's Shopping Edit

  9. Designer Spotlight: Elisa Solomon

    We first met Elisa so many years ago that I have forgotten how many years ago it was. Her Ancienne Ring was one of the first really fancy pieces we carried; we've always loved how her work was tactile and really had the maker's hand in it. Me and Rony both wear Elisa signet rings on our pinkies, and I love that the new Puffy charms Elisa made for us also have the dimension, joy, and sheer beauty that we know and love from Elisa's jewelry! 

    xo Leigh

    What is your first jewelry memory?

    My first memory is with my mom. She loves jewelry and has always worn a unique mix of handmade, cool, fine designer jewelry.  I also remember that I loved wearing her rings as a child (the ones that were her's as a little girl).

    What does jewelry mean to you?

    Jewelry is like a precious time capsule.  Life is filled with moments that we hold dear.  It is special to be able to honor those moments with a jewel. The jewel will always bring you back to a magnificent time in life.

    What originally sparked your interest in jewelry design? And where did you learn the craft?

    I am an artist.  I loved drawing and painting and the idea of making something wearable when I was in elementary and high school.  When it came down to it, I wasn't interested in clothing because I wanted to work with something that had more longevity.  Fabric can wear out, bodies can change, trends can be fleeting.  I wanted to make something timeless.  When I started art school at the University of Michigan, by the first semester I knew my major would be Jewelry and Metalsmithing. I'm very proud of my formal training and also the things I taught myself after college like wax carving.

     What piece do you most enjoy making?

    I love all the Catbird exclusive pieces!  I would say I love making the Viola's Treasure Signet Ring.  I've made many and it's fun that we now offer a mini (the Henrietta) and a large (the Isabel) signet, too!  It kicked off a really sweet, meaningful, classic grouping.

    What are your favorite stones to work with?

    Since I started my collection, I've loved working with Brazilian paraiba tourmaline.  The electric blue hue is amazing.  It has a psychedelic quality.  I also love alexandrite because it changes hues based on light!  The variety of blue to green to grey is unique

    The Puffy Heart and Puffy Letter pieces are so special - can you tell us a little bit about the inspiration and process behind these designs?

    I feel that my charms are special because I hand carve every piece in the collection.  The letters have a roughness and a handmade quality that's special.  The charms are inspired by my kids.  People are looking for ways to carry loved ones close to their hearts and the charms are perfect for this purpose.

    Your pieces are often centered around initials and meaningful letters; do you think of your work as heirlooms?

    Yes, absolutely.  It's always been important to me to work in precious materials so there is longevity in my collection. I also try to incorporate shapes and symbols that are universal and would appeal to a variety of ages and personalities while still sticking to my vision.

    In my own life, my mom and I have already started a jewelry box for my daughter. It is such a beautiful thing passing a jewel down to a loved one.  It makes me tear up even thinking about it!  The thought that a matriarch can wear something, then her daughter, then her daughter, then her daughter, and on and on...it's absolutely amazing. What could be more magical?  The fact that I've made the pieces in Layla's jewel box just brings a whole other level of excitement for me.

    Shop Elisa Solomon

  10. Designer Q&A : WHITE/SPACE

    White/Space is a collection to be worn and loved! Created by Khadijah Fulton, a Los Angeles based designer and graduate of Parsons, who spent a decade as a fashion designer, before becoming a mother and moving into jewelry. White/Space pursues sophistication in the unexpected, with aesthetic influences hailing from mid-century architecture and ancient goldsmithing to minimalist art and sculpture. Khadijah sat down with us to tell us a bit about everything - from her design background to her grandmother's jewelry!

    Your education and early career is rooted in fashion design. Tell us about your transition to jewelry!

    When I was working in fashion, jewelry was always a personal passion of mine, whether I was shopping for vintage pieces on the weekends (or on inspiration trips for work) or actually creating jewelry with beads and findings in my spare time, which I started to do later on in my fashion career.  I really started learning bench techniques, goldsmithing and stone setting when I was about 1 year into stay-at-home motherhood.  It was the first time in my life that I wasn't devoting most of my time to a creative calling, and I began taking night classes and weekend workshops in jewelry fabrication to get back to that part of myself.

     

    Is your approach to fashion design reflected in your approach to jewelry design?

    Yes and no. When I was working in fashion I always designed for large companies, so there was a clear brand vision, aesthetic and pricepoint that I was designing for.  Having my own brand, I have had to define that myself over time, and functioning as a small brand doesn't work the same way as working as part of a corporate enterprise with in-built teams in place!

    But what has always been a constant is my desire to design pieces that are not only beautiful, but also very realistic for incorporating into every day looks. I love giving women the opportunity to feel special all the time, not just for "special" occasions, and in my fashion career I worked for brands that create real clothes for real life (and real bodies!) as well.

    Where do you look for inspiration when designing?

    So many places! I always love the philosphies and aesthetics in mid-century modernist architecture and design. I also am very drawn to the simplicity and directness of the shapes found in African sculpture and goldsmithing. But when I'm actually working in my sketchbook or at the bench (sometimes I just love how materials come together, and that can spark an idea) I'm also always thinking about how to bring joy and delight to a woman when she catches herself in a mirror, or happens to look at her hand during the day.  I go for the things that bring delight to me, and hope that will also happen for other women who wear my jewelry.

    What is your favorite piece to make?

    Oh gosh! Don't make me choose a favorite baby, haha! There are different aspects I love about making all of them, but the most fun thing is the end, when it all comes together.  Whether it's a simple stud earring or a more complex style, seeing my initial vision come to life is incredibly gratifying.

    The Double Baroque Pearl Necklace is such a special piece. Could you tell us a bit about the inspiration and process behind this design?

    This is one of those pieces that is really inspired by the materials. I love baroque pearls in general because they remind me of the beauty of imperfection.  The wabi-sabi way of looking at things is something that really resonates with me, in its embrace of natural imperfection and constant change, but personally I've always struggled with perfectionism.

    The Double Baroque Necklace is like a 'double down' on the beauty of imperfection! Each pearl is one of a kind, has taken its own path to forming, has grown into its own individual shape, and each one is beautiful and imperfect in its own right.  When you wear it, it has a wonderful weight and presence, it feels good in your hand and is a great converstion piece, on its own or layered.

    I read that your love for jewelry was partly inspired by your grandmother! Could you tell us about some of the pieces you remember her wearing?

    My grandmother was very charming, engaging and elegant, and she loved collecting eye-catching necklaces with large beads, fun chunky bangles and cocktail rings with juicy gemstones.  She had a few precious pieces, but most of it was really great constume jewelry.  The thing I remember most is her style, and how important it was for her to finish off her look with a beautiful piece of jewelry. 

    She had a jewelry armoire that was as tall as I was as a young girl, and each drawer held different treasures.  I remember her getting ready for work, church, or for a friend coming over to visit, and sometimes she would let me go into that jewelry box and pull out which pieces she wanted to wear that day. She never wore a lot of makeup, just red lipstick, a touch of rouge, and a spritz of her favorite fragrance (the legendary Samsara by Guerlain) but she always chose her jewelry with love and joy, and her polished style left an impression on everyone she met.

    What advice do you have for aspiring jewelers?

    Learn as much as you can about the fabrication and fundamentals of jewelry construction.  Whether you want to focus on design, or actually be at the bench constructing jewelry, the more you know firsthand about how to execute your ideas, the better - and that includes education in CAD rendering as well as IRL bench contruction because the two go hand in hand. 

    On the production side, the industry can be very opaque, and there is so much that goes into making a piece of jewelry, that the more you actually know about the work that's involved, the better you'll be able to protect yourself from vendors trying to give you the runaround or take advantage.  Be patient. Making and designing jewelry requires skills that are honed over time, whether you're doing it yourself or someone is doing it for you - it takes time to learn, grow in skill level and find partners you can trust.  And lastly, watch your money.  Whether it's a hobby or career aspiration, jewelry is one of those passions that can be expensive! 

    What do you hope customers feel when they look at and wear your pieces?

    When they look at them, I hope they feel a sense of serenity and optimism, inspired by the beauty of simplicity.  When they wear White/Space I hope they feel like their inner Elegant Badass is shining through, even if it's in a subtle way. 

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