October 25, 2017

Jewelry Designer Interview: Meet Laurel Gregory of Designs by Laurel Leigh

I’m super excited to introduce you to one of my favorite jewelry designers, Laurel Gregory of Designs by Laurel Leigh (@designsbylaurelleigh). When I stumbled across her shop on Etsy, my first thought was, “Wow —this is SO me! I could literally buy every single piece of jewelry in this line I love it that much!” It’s no secret that I’m drawn to obsessed with anything chinoiserie chic... and when I found her amazing trove of blue and white beaded jewelry, I just didn’t know what to do with myself! I had to learn more about the creative mind behind these designs! So, I invited Laurel to share her story on the blog and she happily agreed—thank you Laurel!

Also, I styled some of her creations to go along with this post so you see how gorgeous her pieces look ON!!

  

When I opened my first box of earrings I gasped—they’re even more beautiful in person! They're also lightweight, which I love because I can wear them all day and my ears *never* tire. 


I couldn’t stop with the earrings, so I bought this stunning bracelet (similar) and this necklace (similar) to match! I love that I can wear all three simultaneously. 



Her earrings, bracelets, and necklaces are my new everyday go-tos and wow—let me tell you—I’m getting so many compliments!



If you’re anything like me, your favorite part of getting ready is picking out jewelry. I just love opening my jewelry drawer every morning and seeing this gorgeous flat lay. The decorator in me loves to display her jewelry just as much as she loves wearing it. šŸ˜†



How and when did you come to realize your talent for jewelry making?
    
 I have always loved creative projects and have taught myself how to sew and paint, but I truly had no idea that I had "an eye" for jewelry design until last summer (2016). I have worked as a Human Resources Consultant on a part time basis for the last few years and had some free time on my hands while we were planning to remodel the home we moved into last year. I purchased a pretty strand of vintage blue and white beads that sat around for months until I decided what to do with them. Once I started making necklaces with them, I was hooked.

  

You work with an impressive range of materials; brass, fur, porcelain, wood, acrylic, shell, and the list goes on! What draws you to a particular material? Do you have any favorites?

  I only make items that I would wear myself, so I am drawn to materials that reflect my own taste and style. I began designing jewelry with the goal to make mostly one-of-a-kind, or what I refer to as "small batch" designs. I work very hard to give my customers special and unique, original designs that that they will not see everywhere. I am always on the hunt and I look for high quality and affordable materials with happy colors, rich textures or fun patterns that are both classic and trendy, but also unexpected. My favorite components are: vintage porcelain beads, animal print leather, bamboo, semi-precious gemstones, gold plated beads and pearls.

Chinese characters and motifs can be found throughout your collections—what do these illustrations mean to you/why are you attracted to them?

 My mother-in-law, Marilyn, loved Chinoiserie porcelain and because of her, I fell in love with it too. We lost Marilyn to cancer five years ago, so I feel like I make pieces that are inspired by that connection. I am also an abstract painting artist (self-taught), so I am drawn to interesting shapes.

   

You have a true knack for creating beautiful designs from unexpected pairings (pink chalcedony with Thai embroidery, silky tassels with bone beads, Chinese porcelain with crochet lace, to name a few). What inspired these intriguing combinations? How will you go about finding your next source of inspiration?

 Oh my goodness, thank you! I decorate and design rooms around fabric, so I suppose I design jewelry the same way, but with different types of components. I try to use a good mix of trendy and classic materials in my designs and I am always searching for new materials that stand out and speak to me. At some point, I would love to plan a trip outside of the country for inspiration and to source materials.

   
Who is the “Designs by Laurel Leigh” girl? What might her story be?

    The "Designs by Laurel Leigh" woman has impeccable taste and a great sense of style. She is “on trend,” but she loves classic designs that will stand the test of time. She strives to be unique and different and loves to find special pieces that make that statement.

What do you like to do in your free time? Favorite way to indulge?

I love to read, but rarely make time for it unless I am on vacation. My free time is spent playing tennis, painting, designing jewelry, shopping and working on decorating projects. My favorite indulgence is sharing a bottle of wine with my husband while binge-watching shows on Netflix.

  

If you could adorn any celebrity or style icon, past or present, with your jewelry, who would it be and why?

 What a fun question! I think it would be amazing to see either Emma Stone or Reese Witherspoon wearing my jewelry. They are both darling and down to earth and I love their classic styles and "girl next door" personalities.

What are your five must-have pieces of jewelry (from your own collections and/or elsewhere)?

 My must-have pieces are my wedding rings, a bezel set diamond necklace I received from my mother for my 30th birthday, a gold bracelet my mother gave me 20+ years ago, my mother-in-law's gold, ruby and diamond ring set and a set of chinoiserie bracelets from my own collection that I wear on repeat.



I’m always looking for ways to make life more luxurious without spending a fortune and, to me, there’s nothing more luxurious than a fabulous pair of swingy tassel earrings!





If you’re looking for an easy way to punch up your outfits—this is it! Her jewelry is a cinch to style because it goes with just about every color and pattern. Yep, I’m hooked!