Friday, January 8, 2010

Mother Nature's Child

For jewelry designer Jamie Cassavoy, the inspiration for her handmade jewelry line, Cassavoy & Company, comes from right outside the window of her Atlanta studio. Working under the motto “inspired by nature, crafted by hand,” Cassavoy creates pieces that are sophisticated and wearable with all the care of handcrafting, but without the raw look that is often associated with handmade jewelry. Since starting her line in Birmingham, Ala., in 1998, Cassavoy has grown as a designer, and now her jewelry is sold in more than 30 states nationwide. We caught up with her to talk about everything from the inspiration behind her pieces to the materials she uses to bring them to life.

JEZ: There seems to be a trend of asymmetry in many of your pieces. What draws you aesthetically to the asymmetric?

JC: I’m the queen of asymmetry! I think that nature is not symmetrical. It’s not perfect, so perfection is not indicative of what’s going on outside. I also have a signature texture–a matte finish that my work is known for. I create that finish using a piece of paper along with a piece of equipment in my studio.

JEZ: And don’t you use a particular type of metal for your gold pieces?

JC: I use something called bimetal. It’s a really thin sheet of 18-karat gold infused to a thicker sheet of sterling silver. I use it like I would solid gold, but it cuts down on the cost of the piece. I’ve actually used it for a long time, and didn’t realize [until recently] that it’s this hot trend in jewelry-making.

JEZ: In addition to using the bimetal, your finished pieces are often a combination of silver and gold. Why is that?

JC: I never wear just silver or just gold jewelry personally, so I design pieces that can be worn with either.

JEZ: Tell us about your newest collection.

JC: The Silhouette Collection is made with pieces. I’ve never worked one-dimensionally before, so it is more minimalistic than my previous collections. It is quite visually interesting.

JEZ: The Silhouette Collection is small. Is it complete?

JC: There are a dozen or so pieces right now, but I will add another 12 to 15 through the fall and winter. I introduce new mini-collections each summer, and then expand upon them until launching the next collection the following summer.

JEZ: What can we expect from Cassavoy & Company in the future?

JC: I am rolling out a bridal collection this spring. I have always made bridal pieces and had brides buy my jewelry for their weddings, so I’m developing an official line.

JEZ: That’s rather fitting considering how your current line started.

JC: Yes, I didn’t have this particular line until 2001. Before that, I had a different aesthetic that I didn’t love making and really didn’t sell [well]. This line came from making a headpiece for myself for my wedding. My husband noted that I could stick it on my neck and it would be a beautiful necklace, and that was the inception of the line.