Today, it is my pleasure to introduce you to Stella Flame: a designer whose personality and personal history are as rich and distinctive as the jewelry she creates.
When I saw Stella Flame’s designs in person a few weeks ago, I was immediately struck by the pieces’ strength. These pieces are unapologetic. They take up space, they demand attention – not in an overbearing way, but because they emanate a feeling of determined being. Much like the charismatic Stella herself, her jewelry has a magnetic presence that cannot be denied.
Stella Flame’s love of jewelry is lifelong. In her own words:
My background in jewelry began literally in my mother’s lap. A WWII slave labor camp survivor, she had some beautiful statement pieces – a large ring featuring a round deep red coral as well as a huge oval N-S turquoise ring both set in deep yellow 18K. These pieces are etched in my mind and part of my earliest memories. [My mother] had a life long love of jewelry and my father liked to mark special occasions with either a special estate piece or a contemporary piece with a hint of history somehow attached.”
From there, the designer’s rich history in the jewelry industry ranges from odd jobs in NYC’s Diamond District to working directly with Phyllis Pressman (Barney’s daughter-in-law) at the Fine and Antique Jewelry Departments at Barney’s and eventually owning her own mini-empire of vintage shops.
Stella gave it all up to focus on family when her daughter was born, but a chance conversation with a stranger in Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar many years later left her with an idea she couldn’t shake: what if she tried designing her own jewelry?
The idea proved irresistible.
Stella Flame’s designs feature precious metals, usually in combination and only with natural gemstones, which are selected with ethical sourcing in mind. The majority of the pieces are sterling silver, often plated in dark or white rhodium or oxidized, and – depending on the collection – combined with pure 24K, 18K, 14K or 8K gold.
Every piece of Stella Flame jewelry is created in one of the designer’s two small Istanbul ateliers. Each design is hand crafted by a master jeweler who ensure that each piece is is unique and exquisitely finished with the utmost skill and attention to detail.
Stella Flame’s jewelry is characterized by an incredibly unique aesthetic that I feel is best described by Stella herself:
I began my jewelry design life with a collection that has an East meets West attitude that I often describe as Bucellati meets Constantinople. I continue to create new pieces and expand on this collection that is both very pretty and laced with an exotic air. Because it involves lacy filigree, this collection is composed of pure 24K wire which we create in house and apply to heavy sheets of sterling silver that we tool by hand inside and out to resemble leather.
We also create bezels from sheets of pure 24K that are used to set cabochons or reverse set gemstones often accented by sterling and/or pure 24K gold granulation. [This collection’s] bracelets are then oxidized and polished and rubbed with grains to create a softened patina. A single cuff bracelet can easily take 3 or 4 days to create.”
I saw a few of these particular Stella Flame’s cuffs recently and I couldn’t take my eyes off of them. Their intricacy called to mind the way I feel when looking at a fine example of Edwardian filigree, but where Edwardian filigree is light and ethereal, these pieces were bold and substantial.
They felt like beautiful armor, the kind that a woman might choose to wear if she knows exactly who she is and is determined to go forth into the world and live her truth unapologetically.
You can’t talk about Stella Flame’s jewelry without talking about the story chains.
Stella and I have a lot in common when it comes to our opinions about the power of jewelry to tell a story. In her own words:
An avid reader, I’m very much into narrative driven design and inspired by my travels, art, architecture, music, astrology, talismans, nature and history.”
Stella Flame’s Story Chains are usually custom pieces, designed as a collaboration between Stella and the chain’s future owner. Each chain features a series of golden amulets with symbols that tell a story about the wearer and what’s important to them: who they love, who they are, what makes them strong.
Stella was wearing her own custom story chain when we met, and she was kind enough to take me through all of her personal charms and and tell me their significance. It was incredible, but I’m not going to share it with you: Stella’s story chain is her own tale to tell and I couldn’t do it justice.
I will tell you this, though: it made me want one of my own.
What do you think of Stella Flame’s designs, my darlings?
And if you were going to design your own Story Chain, what would it look like? Let’s daydream together.
This sponsored post is brought to you by Stella Flame jewelry.