Designer Spotlight: A.M. Thorne
Founded by Ashley Thorne and based in Washington D.C. and NYC, A.M. Thorne is a line of delicate, yet strong minimalist jewelry. Ashley's pieces are influenced by architecture, art, femininity, and light. We are so happy to carry A.M. Thorne, and really enjoyed learning more about her creative process and history with jewelry.
Read our interview with Ashley below, and prepare yourself for some moonstone & gray diamond delights! <3
Did you have a career before jewelry design, or was it the first thing you did?
Before designing jewelry, I worked in graphic design and did freelance design work. I didn’t push for a career in graphic design because it didn’t excite me and that stopped me in my tracks. I started managing an eco-friendly, mid-century home store in downtown Brooklyn and that was a great time! I developed an amazing relationship with the two female owners, and they gave me lots of encouragement to pursue my jewelry passion. It was great to get the insight on running a business even though it was very different from a jewelry one. As their business grew into refinishing mid-century furniture it was great because the store also had a workshop in the back. I got to work and also have a space to put my jewelry workbench. A lot of time was spent in that shop and it helped me perfect my craft and motivate me to dive into my business.
What originally sparked your interest in pursuing jewelry design? And where did you learn the craft?
I remember having a hard time finding simple everyday fine jewelry I wanted to wear. I had recently graduated college, so I couldn’t afford very much. As a creative outlet I began making jewelry and going into places like Metalliferous in NYC collecting materials to create pieces. One day I had a ring design and I couldn’t imagine how to make it. I was recommended by a jewelry friend to take a class at The Jewelry Arts Inc. in Midtown Manhattan. I took my first metalsmithing jewelry course there and fell madly in love. I also took wax carving at Liloveve in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. So much of what I learned was through trial and error and lots of late nights creating.
Where do you look for inspiration for your designs?
I always fall deep into a rabbit hole gazing at ancient Greek, Roman, and Egyptian jewelry. I particularly love looking at ancient gold jewelry for inspiration and modernizing it. When I can pair hints of detail, I love using granules, an ancient technique you will find in lots of jewelry. A big part of my inspiration also comes from the stone. I keep my jewelry very clean, classic, and minimal so that the stone can be the center of attention.
What are your favorite stones to work with and why?
I’m completely enamored by inclusions in diamonds and the adularescence of moonstone. When I started making jewelry, I wasn’t concerned with using gemstones. I wanted to be very careful about what types of stones I used. I didn’t know everything about the mining process, but I knew I wanted to use conflict-free diamonds. Once I found a source, I discovered salt + pepper diamonds which I have stuck with. No two diamonds are alike, each stone has its own characteristic that reminds us of the natural beauty found in nature. Moonstones come in a variety of hues and shades and I think many moonstones go unnoticed. I love catering to the people who love moonstones as much as I do and want something a little less common.
What does jewelry mean to you?
To me jewelry is an extension of our self-expression. Jewelry can be a symbol of love, family or simply personal style. Jewelry is here to embellish our look, make us happy or remind us of something dear to our hearts. I think of jewelry as a future artifact leaving its mark of a time for other humans to find someday.
What jewelry do you wear every day? What are your ‘uniform’ pieces?
My uniform piece right now is the Gray Diamond Necklace. I recently have layered it with the Peach Moonstone Necklace just on a longer chain. I sleep in them and they are just a part of me now. I also wear an assortment of rings, my favorite being a beautiful 1960s Peridot ring my grandmother used to wear.
If you weren’t a jeweler, what would you like to do for work, or with your time?
If I weren’t a jeweler, I would dream of being a horticulturist or flower and herb farmer. I’d want to grow fields of beautiful flowers and healing herbs for people.
What is one of your favorite pieces to make?
My favorite piece to make in the Catbird collection is the Gray Diamond Necklace. I absolutely love hand selecting stones since no two salt and pepper diamonds are alike. I never get tired of gazing into these stones and picking out ones I think have unique beauty and luster.
What is your relationship to light and color? Your work is so luminous, and your stones so intentional in palette.
My relationship to light and color has been very thoughtful. I started using salt and pepper diamonds but realized I wanted to bring in more color. I was drawn to moonstone. I can’t tell if I chose it or if it chose me. Initially I only thought about rainbow moonstone and soon discovered moonstone comes in shades of brown, grey, green, white and peach. I find them soothing and overall very grounding.
Can you tell us what New York means to you? We know you went to Pratt!
New York for me is where I became an adult. It is where I made lifelong friends and it is where I started my journey into the jewelry world. Growing up in Washington, DC I never spent much time in NYC until I did a pre-college program at Parsons. After that I knew I belonged in NYC and decided to go to Pratt Institute since it had a more intimate campus vibe. Going to school in NYC made me a shoo-in New Yorker.
How has your business changed during the pandemic?
My business has changed a lot during the pandemic. People are still getting engaged, wanting to buy gifts or treat themselves to something they will enjoy. Jewelry may not be a necessity, but it can definitely lift your spirits and bring comfort. Now more than ever it seems people are being more responsible about who and what they are supporting. As a small jewelry brand, it brings me so much gratitude that I can help bring a little wearable sparkle to the planet.
What do you hope customers feel when they look at and wear your pieces?
I hope customers feel uplifting joy and connected to the earth in some way when they look at and wear my pieces.
Do you have a dream client?
My dream client knows when to stop and feel the breeze pass by and notice her surroundings. She is creative, carefree, inquisitive and divine. My dream client is feminine, she makes everything she touches beautiful. She is slightly understated when it comes to her style, but she has her go to brands she has sought out and is loyal to. She loves chic style that is comfortable and feels confident about investing in things she can wear every day.