What's your five-second elevator introduction when a stranger asks about your jewelry business? My work pays tribute to the incredible universe in which we live. I try to take people on my exploration into the planets, stars, nebulae and into the clouds. If there is a tiny bit more time, I also tell that person that my jewelry is designed to make each woman feel put together, strong and beautiful, no matter where she wears it.
Inspiro Ceres Earrings
What influences your jewelry design? As I learned about my own design style, I realized that it is distinctly influenced by the Danish Modern - Mid Century Modern styles I grew up with. I love clean, simple shapes. Though the universe is the main inspiration, I am also inspired by unique stones I find, or by some setting technique I learn about. I also have to tell you that I get totally stoked by the Birds of Paradise and how they “flirt” and I have been thinking about some pieces based on that.
You earned an MFA degree in Costume Design from Carnegie Mellon University. Name one of the things you learned there that you still apply in your work today: I learned the thought process of design, how I personally work best and the work that goes behind a finished show (whether it is a play, a TV show, a movie or a commercial). I know the way to create a unified “show”. I have to say that my work ethic was forged there, and the knowledge that being a creative being is not enough. I play well with others, I listen to others, I trust my team to do the things they do best, but ultimately, I have to trust in my own vision for because it is my name on the finished product.
How important is design in society? Design is basic to all society, along with music and writing. It is why art and music needs to be taught to all kids in school, whether or not they are “creative” types.
How important is designer jewelry versus generic jewelry? That is a loaded question, isn’t it? Of course, I think designer jewelry is important. I see designer jewelry as the future heirlooms. Designer jewelry is more likely to be passed down from parent to child with emotional attachment and memories. Designer jewelry is always unique and it allows the wearer to show others how she expresses her own style. It is why so many people want “custom” jewelry.
Double Galaxy Earrings
What is the signature in your jewelry design that makes your jewelry immediately recognizable? My modern interpretation of the stars and universe with clean, almost squared off edges, plus the interlocking spirals and “filigree” is what makes it recognizable. Each designer, if being true to himself/herself, will have a unique look. You find something that intrigues you and explore it in your own way.
What is the most exciting piece of jewelry in your current collection? I always think that the current designs I am working on are the most exciting. I have an earring system I am announcing in Tucson in February called Lyra and I am really excited by the possibilities. It is interchangeable. And I am most excited by the simple engineering that makes it work. I love the original layered earrings that started the whole idea. The other piece of jewelry I love right now is the pair of earrings called Comet. What I adore, and what inspired the design are the 2 amethyst stones I purchased last year in Tucson. 25 carats of beautifully, and simply carved Amethyst.
Swing on a Star Earrings Comet Earrings
What piece of jewelry from your collection would you suggest as a Valentine's Day gift? I might suggest my Narrow Stacking Cuff in gold with diamonds. It has been redesigned with a hinge and is much lighter weight. The cuff is a piece that is elegant, beautiful and can be worn everyday but it has the sparkle that only diamonds can provide.
For a lower price point, I would suggest a pair of Cirrus Pearl Earrings in sterling silver with a freshwater pearl. I think the way these pearls are set is fresh, romantic and a little modern.
Narrow Stacking Cuff Cirrus Pearl Earrings
What one tip would you give to a sales person who is selling your jewelry for the first time? Martha Seely jewelry is unique, fine jewelry made with fine metals and ethically sourced gemstones. The jewelry does not follow trends, it starts them. It is romantic, it pays tribute to the incredible universe in which we live and can take the wearer on a personal exploration into the sky, the stars, moon, nebulae and beyond. Finally the owner should wear each piece of jewelry as a talisman and an expression of her own uniqueness.
Where is your studio located? In the middle of the woods in eastern Massachusetts, just west of Boston.
What is your favorite romantic restaurant in Boston that would be perfect for Valentine's Day? My very favorite romantic restaurant is the Hungry I on Charles Street. It is an cozy French restaurant located downstairs in a restored brownstone - lit with candlelight and often with a fire in the fireplace. I LOVE that place for Valentine’s Day!!!
What music are you currently listening to in your studio? I mostly listen to books on tape when I am working on production jewelry. LOVE the books. They keep me occupied for hours. When I am designing or doing something where I have to focus on problem solving, I need to listen to music that does not occupy serious mental space in my brain but lifts my spirits. I move between jazz (I love Nnenna Freelon, TS Monk, some of the older Rachael Price) to silly western music of Ryders in the Sky to really old faves like Leonard Cohen (Halleluiah), Pousette Dart Band – even Ian Hunter -but lots of times I go for southern rock. My husband and I are a music family and we love a huge variety of styles.
Dark or Milk Chocolate? Dark
Who would your dream collaboration be with? Martha Seely and xx? I had the opportunity to design for KORITE International last year, using Ammolite. That was amazing! This year, I would LOVE to collaborate with an Australian Boulder Opal company or with a company that mined Tsavorite Garnets.
If I could collaborate with a fashion designer to create a line of clothes and coordinated line of fine jewelry - Donna Karan, Jason Wu or Mucia Prada? Or with Molly Maginnis for a high budget movie. And oh what about a collaboration with a fabulous shoe designer??? Christian Louboutin? Jimmy Choo? How fun would that be?
What are you looking forward to (business wise) in the next three to six months? Once JCK Tucson is over, I am planning some intense marketing, having meetings with stores who I think might be the right ones to represent my work. Of course I have a couple of ideas for some new pieces of jewelry but before I can create more jewelry, I need to be very serious about marketing and sales. It is a matter of being pragmatic for a change. It is SO easy to design, so easy to create something new and beautiful but without income, everything comes to a grinding halt.
Martha Seely will be exhibiting at JCK Tucson, January 31 - February 3, 2018 at the Marriott Starr Pass Resort in Tucson, AZ