Rhode Island used to be known as the jewelry capital of the United States. I was reading an old article the other day about how 80% of costume jewelry was produced in the tiny state, which is pretty impressive. This industry in Rhode Island dates back to 1794, when goldsmith Nehemiah Dodge invented a process for plating gold and silver onto base metals. Due to outsourcing the jewelry making industry in Rhode Island has lost a lot of its luster. Thousands of jobs and hundreds of companies have been lost. The industry has started to see a bit of a resurgence due in part to companies like Loren Hope. The Loren Hope Fall Collection celebrates this rich history of the Ocean State. The company works extra hard to keep everything made in America utilizing family-owned businesses within their community to create all of their pieces by hand.
Designer Loren Barham launched Loren Hope in November of 2005, almost 10 years ago. Loren had a love of jewelry making ever since she was a little girl playing with stones and beads. She received her first jewelry making kit from her aunt when she was 8. Her grandmother owned a thrift store where she would plunder through all the old jewelry. She took apart and reassembled baubles into new works of art to give her friends. When she got to East Carolina University she took a class in metal smithing and her love of jewelry grew even more. Her jewelry is recognized by its rich and vivid hues and designs that channel a modern-vintage sensibility. Pieces often feature Austrian rhinestone accents, semi-precious stones, and Czech glass beads and cabachons (gemstones that have been shaped and polished as opposed to faceted) many of which are repurposed vintage stones that are no longer in production. Loren Hope primarily uses brass with a high quality gold plating. Each piece is individually hand-crafted with quality in mind. I was able to get more insight into the design process in a short Q&A with Loren Barham:
Q: Where do you draw your inspiration from?
A: I love vintage jewelry and things with a story. From architecture to art, inspiration is everywhere you look. I particularly love the Art Deco era and I love geometric forms. I tend to pull a lot of my inspiration from that time period.
Q: When you're designing a piece or collection, where do you typically start?
A: I will typically start by reviewing various designers' couture and ready to wear collections for the upcoming season. I want to make sure whatever I create is relevant to what people are wearing. I see if I notice any overall trends, such as colors or silhouettes. I then start brainstorming about color palettes, motifs, and an overall concept that can be carried through the line.
Q: What is your favorite thing about the new collection?
A: The colors! The collection is all about key pieces that can be layered up to create your own look. They are all great staples on their own, but mixing and matching them together and playing with the different color pairings is really fun. For example, pairing the Kaylee Necklace in Amethyst with the Sylvia Necklace in Merlot and the Arista Necklace in Purple Opal - it's a beautiful, multi-textural monochrome look that makes a major statement while looking completely pulled together.
Loren Hope has become a staple in my jewelry collection and a company that I have grown to have a lot of respect for. Check out some pieces from the fall collection below and be sure to take a look at their Look Book.