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March 17, 2023
Introducing new rings made from cactus skeleton - the perfect desert-inspired blend of organic and timeless. These rings are crafted from the unique structure of prickly pear cactus skeletons, giving them a distinctive look that allows you to perfectly express yourself.
Each of these two new botanical rings captures the essence of the desert and its natural beauty. Each botanical ring is carefully handmade, resulting in the perfect blend of craft, elegance, and natural beauty.
The low profile oval cactus ring is a simple representation of the cactus skeleton pattern framed with a square wire border. A simple band wraps around the back of the finger for comfort and wearability. I think of this ring as an amulet; when I wear it I feel protected, strong, and connected to the greater world around me.
The cactus skeleton solitaire ring steps elevates the cactus skeleton pattern with a tapered design that culminates in a gorgeous center gemstone. This ring is a great engagement ring or special gift (for yourself even!). It expresses individuality and creativity, with a nod to the traditional solitaire ring design.
These rings are timeless, unique, and most importantly, they help support ethical and sustainable small business. The cactus skeletons are harvested by hand by artist Clare Johnston on her Tucson, Arizona property, and then lost wax cast into recycled sterling silver or gold.
These botanical rings are perfect for adding a touch of Southwest charm to your wardrobe, and they make great gifts for anyone who loves the outdoors and nature. As a part of Lila Clare's Desert Botanic Collection, these pieces help you wear your love of the desert!
November 08, 2022
One of the questions I'm asked most often is, "How do I take care of my jewelry?" To help you keep your pieces looking their best, I'm excited to introduce my very own jewelry cleaning products!
These liquid silver and gold jewelry cleaners will make it super easy to keep your jewelry shiny. Find all of the jewelry care products here.
Here's what's new:
Here's how to use the products:
August 23, 2022
Two of the questions I'm frequently asked are: "How did you get started making jewelry?" and "What are your inspirations?"
Although I didn't start making jewelry until my late 20s, I was raised surrounded by my dad's art, including his handmade jewelry. My father made several pieces of jewelry - most memorably, my mother’s wedding ring. He carved it from wax, then lost wax cast it in gold. It’s a wide band, thick and abstract. I grew up with that being the definition of jewelry - not some mass produced setting with a standard diamond.
In fact, my mom just didn't have a lot of "typical jewelry". The jewelry I grew up seeing was that ring, and the other really unique things that dad made. So. the jewelry "norm" in our household was more distinctive, artful, almost esoteric. I'm grateful for being steeped in this jewelry making tradition. It has allowed me to go beyond designing pieces that look like what's on TV or sold in chain jewelry stores, and, instead, design nature-inspired jewelry that prioritizes self expression.
My Botanic Collection echos the natural, organic designs that my dad created. I'm proud to create jewelry that honors my origins, and to make unique pieces that create meaning and significance for your life.
August 15, 2022
My father passed away at the end of June 2022. I will miss so much; most of all, I will miss experiencing the depth of his love.
Dad was brilliant and an artist. His first career was engineering, which he left shortly after I was born to be a fine furniture maker. It wasn't just a career change; it was an entire lifestyle change. We moved to the North Georgia mountains when I was two years old, and Dad built our house from scratch. His furniture-making workshop was adjacent to the house, so he could work surrounded by the nature he loved.
Dad literally hand carved wood into beautiful reproductions of Chippendale and Queen Anne antique furniture. In many ways my path has mirrored his - leaving a first career to pursue one in the arts. He modeled passion for his art, hard work, business sense, and success.
This excerpt of Walden, by Henry David Thoreau, reminds me so much of Dad and his journey: "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived."
Being with him (with my mom) during his final days is the honor of my life. Nothing could have prepared me for how hard this loss is, or the profound grief. I miss you, Daddy, may you rest in peace.
February 07, 2022
When I sit down to design a new piece of jewelry, I bring the best parts of myself to the table. I have to. There’s no room for fear or doubt or broken promises at the work bench. To turn raw metal into a finished, wearable ring or bracelet is a kind of alchemy, really. It requires patience, creativity, problem-solving, and trust. (And just a little bit of fairy dust!)
That moment when it all starts to come together does feel a bit magical. When the abstract visions in my head begin to make sense in my hands, I get excited — and humble. Out of my hard work and best intentions, I have created something meaningful and beautiful to pass on to another person.
To me, handmade is more than a process. It’s a belief in human connection and community. Making something for another person, or wearing something made lovingly by hand, is to take part in a human tradition as old as time.
People like shiny things. I know I do. A vein of gold in a dull rock, an abalone shell on the beach, even the gleam of a penny on the sidewalk is enough to catch my eye. The first jewelry appealed to our sense of beauty and wonder, but it also had a purpose. We wore pieces of nature to mimic its power — to heal the sick or offer protection for travelers. Our ancestors understood the strength of symbols, and they wore jewelry to effect positive changes in their lives.
When I design jewelry I always start with a good feeling. Hope. Peace. Wonder. Power. The idea is to capture that feeling in a way that speaks to other people and harnesses their dreams too. When I designed my Desert Botanic Collection, I was overcome by the strength and beauty of the Opuntia Prickly Pear cactus. It’s a hardy plant that not just survives, but thrives, in the desert near my home. When someone chooses this design, I know they’ve haven’t just picked the first shiny thing in sight. They’ve chosen a symbol of resilience and possibility. That means something to me.
When we wear mass-produced jewelry we can copy the sparkle on a magazine cover, but I think we miss out some of jewelry’s deeper rewards. To caress a piece of hand-cast silver, to feel the movement of a wire-wrapped gemstone dangling from your ear. There’s a feeling of grounding and connection that comes from knowing that this metal was shaped by human hands with care.
Over the last 20 years there’s been an artisan renaissance of sorts in America, changing the way think about everything from bread and chocolate to clothing and, of course, jewelry. (Etsy anyone?) It seems like just when we figured out how to execute everything to cookie cutter perfection by machine, people realized that wasn’t actually what they wanted at all.
Why are we so drawn to handmade things? For the artist, I think it’s the very tangible joy of working with your hands to create something beautiful, useful and amazing for the world. Finding someone who will cherish your creation is an integral part of that process.
While factories may churn out thousands of identical necklaces (and, honestly, exploit people and resources in the process), a handmade artist works much more slowly, carefully, and ethically. She takes time to source materials and craft smaller batches of high-quality items with real people in mind. When a person buys something handmade, they are choosing to be part of this thoughtful, nurturing process. In my mind, that makes us all artists.
The renewed popularity of handmade jewelry is a return to real relationships and trust. It’s a celebration of the connection between the person who solders and hammers silver into a pendant and the woman who wears it proudly around her neck.
I hope it gives people real confidence to know that each piece of jewelry they buy from me at Lila Clare has been ethically sourced and responsibly, lovingly made. I use recycled silver and primarily source in the USA to be conscious of my studio’s imprint on the earth.
Whenever you make things by hand, you open yourself up to fate, to the little uncertainties that make life interesting: the angle of the hammer on gold, the flow of the solder, the exact wrap of your metal wire. These slight differences don’t make a piece of jewelry any less perfect, long lasting or beautiful. They make it yours.
Every piece of my jewelry tells a story as complex and beautiful as the person wearing it. Like a thumbprint, no item is exactly the same because each was born individually, from concept to work bench to finished piece. The bundled sprout designs in my Joy Collection were inspired by the lush, happy forests of my childhood. I made my Luna Collection with connection and inner strength in mind. When you wear any of these pieces, you also become a part of the story, embracing strength, joy, hope or whatever quality is that you need right now in your life. And the best part is, you get to decide what happens next.
Thank you so much for being a part of my story. If you have more questions about how Lila Clare jewelry is made and sourced, I’m always happy to talk shop. Please don’t hesitate to reach out.
April 08, 2021
Circle Symbolism in Jewelry: Shaping Connection & Hope
The sun rises and sets. Autumn leaves fade, and new life grows each spring. These are things we can count on.
In an unpredictable world, the circle is our constant. It’s the sun that gives us warmth, the moon that offers light in darkness, the beauty of a prickly pear flower in full bloom. Just as the wheel set the world in motion — literally — the circle has also been there as a grounding force in our lives. It’s a tangible symbol of our connection to nature and to each other.
I’ve always been drawn to this deceptively simple shape. Wearing any of the pieces in my Luna Collection, I feel calm, whole and connected — aware of my past and open to what wonders my future may bring. And I’m not alone; the circle is an integral part of the historical jewelry making tradition. I like to imagine the first time someone formed a piece of bodily adornment in the shape of a circle. How amazing it must have been to find a shape as perfect as the sun in the sky! Then and now, this sacred geometry comforts us with the rhythm of life and reminds us that we are part of something bigger than ourselves.
Circle Jewelry: A Little History
Necklaces, rings, bracelets, clasps, the individual links that form a chain — these are the building blocks of jewelry as we know it. It’s hard to separate this essential shape from the ancient art of decorating our bodies. As humans first began to cut gems and solder metal, the circle became the perfect expression of form and function.
Nature, of course, was our first teacher. The sun and moon above, the two most prominent spheres in our lives, gave human existence a cyclical rhythm that was hardly lost on our ancestors. In pre-colonial New Mexico, the Zuni created the dazzling and intricate sun face as homage to their Sun Father deity. This circular shape, often inlaid with semi-precious stones like turquoise, mother-of-pearl and coral, represented a deep faith in nature and an understanding that our fortunes were inextricably intertwined. The burst of green after seasonal rains. The miracle of agriculture. The Zuni were skilled farmers, and they understood that the lives of countless individuals depended on the singular truth of the circle.
It’s humbling to realize how adept our ancestors were at noticing the world around them. The ancient Babylonians and Sumerians were surprisingly good at observing the skies — and they calculated the length of the solar year with amazing precision. The sun, in particular, with its brilliant golden sparkle and command over the seasons, became a potent symbol of royalty, and the perfection to which we all can strive.
The famous tomb of Sumerian Queen Puabi at Ur, contains some of the oldest metal jewelry archaeologists have ever found. It’s a treasure trove of elaborate headdresses, earrings and necklaces with cascades of interconnected golden circles. From the hoop earrings and to the rings dangling from the headdress, to the circular shape inherent in the headdress, it's layers upon layers of circles. (Today, Queen Elizabeth II’s traditionally round crown, inlaid with jewels, and her gold Sovereign’s Orb made a strong case that royal sentiments haven’t changed that much).
But if you had to choose a symbol that speaks to everyone, rich or poor, royal or common, the circle would be it. In the Far East, this smooth, unassuming shape offered a pathway to personal fulfillment — not by invoking some sense of unattainable perfection, but by teaching people how to find peace and strength in a world that doled out challenges on a daily basis.
Just as the Hindu idea of karma created a cyclical framework of natural consequence without judgement, the Chinese yin-yang embraced the circle as a way to make sense of the dueling forces we contend with every day. Good and evil, feminine and masculine, light and dark, strength and weakness — the yin yang explained these contradictions as part of a larger whole. By embracing the totality of life, we didn’t have to fight or make excuses. Better yet, we could learn from the circle, and this wisdom would always move us forward.
It’s really impossible to overstate how important the circle is to us, and how much we adore the feel of this pure shape on our skin. The first engagement rings in Ancient Rome were simple iron bands, round and unbroken to symbolize eternal commitment. Today, we may have changed some of the details, but the spirit is the same. Abundance, acceptance, love, and continuity — the circle offers up everything a person could possibly need to survive, and thrive.
Circle Jewelry Today
Everything old is new again. I firmly believe that. Even after thousands of years, we still rely on the circle to create necklaces, rings, bracelets, and pendants, and we’re still in the thrall of its understated power. You may have noticed that a lot of my Lila Clare Jewelry is inspired by the circle. I adore its pure, uncomplicated strength, and I’m humbled by its ancient roots. In particular, I’m drawn to a few circle-inspired symbols that have particular meaning for me: the moon and the family.
Luna Collection: I created my Luna Collection to celebrate the mystical power of the moon and the celestial bodies that shape the rhythms of our days. The moon, in particular, guides us in ways that are both far-reaching and deeply intimate. It commands the rise and fall of the tides that brings life to our beaches — just as it guides the monthly cycle of our bodies. The moon is far enough away to demand amazement and yet close enough to show us its cratered face. It’s like a piece of heaven you can (almost) touch.
The simple handmade silver and gold spheres in my Luna collection, are my way of harnessing that fleeting celestial moment and bringing it down to earth. These pieces range from minimalist open circle shapes, like my Cynthia Five Linked Circle Necklace that offers a hint of the moon in its phases, to the interconnected weaving of circles in the Cynthia Circle Nest Necklace.
Mother & Family Collection: The cradle of a mother’s arms, the swell of a growing belly, the warmth of a family gathered around the table — these powerful images of connection and encircling love are what inspired me to create my Mom & Family Collection. In this set of jewelry, I make silver and gold necklaces with interconnected circle pendants for moms to celebrate this momentous rite of passage. And because every family is unique, I’ve made this collection completely customizable with pieces like my Custom Generations Dangle Circle Necklace.
These threads of connections are why I create circles pieces for you. Dr. Brené Brown wrote, "I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.” It is my joy that I am able to create something to symbolize that connection and those relationships.
The history of this sacred geometrical shape in jewelry is an age-old one. I believe that my use of the circle in the jewelry I make for you connects us both back to those ancient people. I hope this simple, powerful symbol can be source of strength and hope in your life too. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any thoughts to share. I’d love to hear what the circle means to you!
September 15, 2019
You might have seen that the Gold Vermeil option for many of Lila Clare Jewelry's pieces. But what, exactly is gold vermeil?
Simply put, vermeil (pronounced ver-MAY) jewelry has a thick layer of gold over a sterling silver core.
Similar to the process of gold plating, vermeil requires that sterling silver jewelry be placed in a bath containing fine gold particles, which adhere to the surface using electricity. The use of the term "vermeil" is actually regulated by the FTC. It requires that the quality of gold used must be 10-Karat or higher and have a minimum thickness of 2.5 microns. This allows a much longer wear than gold plated jewelry.
Lila Clare Jewelry's vermeil is 14k yellow gold.
18k yellow and 14k rose gold are available by special request, and require a bit more lead time.
Vermeil jewelry is considered more valuable than gold-plated jewelry because of the thickness of gold and its sterling silver base. The copper and brass base metals, typical of gold-plated jewelry, are less precious.
Care for Vermeil
I highly recommend keeping your vermeil jewelry in a sealed bag when not wearing the piece swimming, in hot tubs, or using harsh household cleansers. Cleaning vermeil is a bit different from how you would clean sterling silver. You won't want to use a polishing cloth or abrasive cleansers because they may wear off the plating. I highly recommend Hagerty Silversmith's Polish. It works well for vermeil, sterling silver jewelry, and solid gold jewelry!
Questions about vermeil? Please don't hesitate to contact me!
June 04, 2019
I'm pretty partial to June birthstones because my birthday is in June! And I do love my birthday. :)
Those of us born in June are pretty lucky to get three birthstone options: pearl, alexandrite, and moonstone.
Pearl is the most traditional June birthstone. It's the only birthstone made from a living creature and only non-gemstone birthstone. Pretty special! The oldest known pearl dates to 5547 to 5235 BC. Greeks believed pearls were the tears of the gods and ancient Chinese believed black pearls were a symbol of wisdom and were formed inside a dragon's head. Most pearls today are "cultured," or farmed, by implanting an irritant into pearl oysters or freshwater pearl mussels. The mollusk with then deposit layers of nacre around the irritant. Nacre, also known as mother of pearl, is the same material that lines the mollusk's inner shell for protection, and is responsible for the pearl's luster. Most of today's cultured pearls come from China, with natural pearls found in the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean. Pearls symbolize integrity, love, and - you guessed it - purity. Pearls are classic and timeless, but also today's unique shapes and color allow them to be contemporary enough to be worn everyday.
Moonstone's name comes from it's moon-like iridescent glow, known as Adularescence. It has been admired for centuries; in fact, Romans believed moonstone was formed from moonbeams and both the Romans and the Greeks associated it with lunar deities. Moonstone is thought to be calming, enhance intuition, and provide balance. Found in a wide range of locations, the best sources are India, Sri Lanka, and United States.
Alexandrite became an alternative birthstone for June in the 1950s. It is known for its striking color change effect called Pleochroism, which means that it appears to be a different color in different light. In Alexandrite's case, the most valuable stones are bluish-green in natural daylight and purpleish-red in incandescent light. Natural alexandrite is extremely rare, and, while first discovered in Russia, is now found predominately in Sri Lanka, East Africa, Brazil. Alexandrite is thought to bring luck, good fortune, and love, and brings balance between one's physical and spiritual world.
Celebrate June birthdays with pearls in Lila Clare's Joy Collection!
March 01, 2019
Here is my second Lila Clare Jewelry video!
This video features the Luna Collection. Inspired by the moon in our night's sky with each of her lunar cycles, the jewelry also has themes of interconnection of all sentient beings and the all-encompassing love of a mother for her children.
See the heart on the top right of the below video? --> Show me some love and click on it (FYI, you will need a Vimeo account)! -->
Model: Callie Valocchi, @callievalocchi. Callie's smile shines like the sun! She radiates in this video.
Videographer: Jimmy Song, @jimmysongphotography. Jimmy has a great sense of space and how people move through it. I love how the surroundings are as integral to the video as the model and jewelry!
Location: Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SMoCA), Scottsdale, AZ.
Jewelry: Lila Clare Jewelry, of course! :) @lilaclare
February 01, 2019
As a bride-to-be, you put so much time and energy into the process of planning a wedding. From booking a venue to drafting invitations, deciding on a photographer, flowers, catering, music, seating charts, finalizing bridesmaid dresses and groomsmen tuxedos, and of course, choosing the perfect Dress, the task can feel herculean.
But, come wedding day when the dust has settled and you’re walking down the aisle toward the person you’ve chosen for life, suddenly all of the time and effort seems to fall away because it’s all more than worth it.
As a jewelry artist (and a guest at many weddings!), I often think about the pieces a bride will select for herself and her bridesmaids. Instead of worrying about what to wear to a wedding, I find myself fantasizing about the gemstone that would complement a particular bridal party color scheme or the delicate shape of a sterling silver pendant that would best echo the architecture of a bridal gown. Custom wedding jewelry for brides and jewelry for bridesmaids adds such a personal touch to the day. Plus, it adds so much meaning for a bride to select custom wedding jewelry that speaks to her and her bridal party.
I love it when I have the opportunity to collaborate with a bride to create her ideal bridal jewelry set for her and her bridesmaids. And I want to make the process easy and enjoyable.
The process can be as simple as a customer choosing handmade Lila Clare Jewelry pieces that are available for immediate purchase for her and her bridal party. Other times a bride-to-be may ask for slight modifications to existing pieces from the Joy, Luna, or Botanic Collections - like including an extra sterling silver petal, adding a gold circle, or inlaying a gemstone. We can even go the extra step and review color palette, bridesmaid dresses, and wedding gown, and customize jewelry so that it’s entirely unique to her vision for her special day.
Each wedding jewelry project is an honor for me to be a part of. I’m continually inspired by the brides I work with and the pieces we co-create. I’d love to work with you to create meaningful jewelry for your wedding day.
If your style is simple and classic with an emphasis on nature-inspired silhouettes, contact me to get started on your custom wedding jewelry set!
Special thanks to:
Carmichael Studios, Kennleigh Photography, Soho 63, Front Paige Events, AZ Florations, Interprintations, AZ Wedding Affair, Charmaine Brinegar, Scottsdale Farm Tables, The Boyer Bakery, Fancy Lou Designs, Beyond Bridal Beauty, Ariels Closet Full of Dresses
January 01, 2019
I'm so thrilled to release my first Lila Clare Jewelry video!
This video features the Joy Collection. I named it Joy because of the sheer joy I felt (and feel!) designing and hand making jewelry. It's only fitting that the video is shot at the Tucson Botanical Gardens, as the leaf pieces in this collection are inspired by nature.
See the heart on the top right of the below video? --> Show me some love and click on it (FYI, you will need a Vimeo account)! -->
Model: Devonne Husband, @devonnepaige. It was so fun to work with Devonne, who shone during the entire shoot. She's an RN, and I soooo appreciate her compassion and spirit.
Videographer: Jimmy Song, @jimmysongphotography. I've worked with Jimmy on several photoshoots, and now video. He really captured the feminine, inspirational feel of my jewelry. I appreciate his passion for videography, and how amazing the video turned out!
Location: Tucson Botanical Gardens, Tucson, AZ.
Jewelry: Lila Clare Jewelry, of course! :) @lilaclare.
September 04, 2018
Do you ever feel as if you’re going nonstop, with each demand on your time as urgent as the next one? Maybe you feel like your day is spent putting out fires with little time left for planning, perspective, and much less, presence? I have certainly been living in this space for the past year, trying to give my all family and business, and feeling like I’m failing at both.
Our “go go go” culture can leave us feeling as if we’re being pulled in untold directions, each with its own, unique sense of importance. With all of our demands (both real and perceived) and the noise those demands stir, it can be hard to even find the time to take a look at our experience through a macro lens.
I try to remember to step out of the chaos as often as I can, but it’s definitely not easy. Distraction abounds, new demands arise, and despite the best of intentions, a day that at first seemed spacious and intentional can easily get derailed before I’ve even finished breakfast.
When the walls feel like they’re closing in and I’ll never possibly get “it” all done, I literally pull myself up out of the stress and drop myself right back down in the middle of nature. A quick walk with one of my dogs, checking on the garden, planting my bare feet on sun-soaked soil, or spending time beneath the branches of a tree are my go-to stress relievers. And they all take 10 minutes or less.
That’s why this quote from spiritual teacher, Eckhart Tolle, really called to me.
The symbolism of trees has been explored for many centuries; known for their majestic qualities of immortality, their resilience, their embodiment of life as one great big, connected circle, their representation of the family unit, their depiction of strength, power, and rebirth. There’s no denying the influence that trees have on us and our world.
As a generally tired and overstimulated society, I can think of no better an exercise in practicing presence. Give yourself the opportunity to enjoy that time beneath the canopy of a nearby tree. Consider it a gift to your soul!
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