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A passion for hidden gems

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Bespoke is how Elisa Stubbs describes her jewellery.

It means that every piece is highly personalised and has a meaning.

Mrs Stubbs, of Airy Heights Design, admitted it's not always the most efficient way to run a business.

There have been times when she spent three hours with a client only to make $150 on a sale; but it does mean that a client is less likely to spot someone else wearing their exact necklace or ring.

“I hate department stores,” said Mrs Stubbs. “When I'm travelling I like to find those little mom and pop stores or boutiques where the owner has carefully selected each item for sale.

“It is about finding that hidden gem, and that's what my work is about, finding those hidden gems.”

She started out in 2005 doing beadwork.

She is interested in metaphysics and would often work with clients to pick out colours that they needed in their lives.

Aquamarine is soothing, for example, citrine, the colour of sunshine, is happiness inducing.

After awhile, though, she decided she wanted to take her jewellery to another level.

She wanted to work more with metals, but needed some goldsmithing experience.

“I had entertained the idea of learning the goldsmithing trade, and yet could not fathom how I was to do that while raising a young family,” she said. “That reality brought with it the realisation that I would never be able to achieve the results I envisioned with little to no experience.

“Lynn Morrell is a local goldsmith, jeweller and friend of mine who has over 30 years experience. She trained in a fine jewellery workshop.

“I can't say enough about how fortunate I am to be working with one of the masters and I think the end result is proof of that.”

Now, most of her creations revolve around metalwork. Everything is either carved in wax and cast, or worked directly in metal and hand finished.

She is inspired by the natural world around her. One of her most popular sets of earrings follow the shape of oleander leaves.

She has a bracelet that mimics the texture of a sea urchin skeleton.

Another creation involves a tear drop shaped rutilated quartz pendant that looks as though it has gold wire strung through it.

“Sometimes I'm inspired by nature, but sometimes I need no inspiration other than the stone itself,” she said. “That was the case with the rutilated quartz pendant.”

Mrs Stubbs has a basic catalogue of her offerings but can tailor each piece to the needs of each client, which is what makes the pieces unique.

Someone may prefer a pendant to hang a certain way or they may like a piece, but want it done a little more cheaply or they want it in a different metal or stone or without stones.

Mrs Stubbs said she isn't doing this to become rich and famous. “It is small scale,” she said. “I love seeing my stuff out there and seeing people admire it for what it is. You won't find that in a jewellery store.

“I pick all my own stones. I have a notebook and I draw all my designs in there.”

One thing that really annoys her is having her jewellery making called a hobby.

“Hobby is a taboo word in my house,” she said. “I am so far into it; it is not a hobby. It is a passion, and a creative outlet.

“The whole goal is I want it sold and worn. I can't keep creating unless people are interested in it and understand the makings of it.

“I have tons of ideas and want to keep pursuing them. I am excited about a new space that is coming up on Reid Street.

Airy Heights Designs are available for sale at Regali in Tucker's Point which is now owned by Luxury Gifts Bermuda, and in the Island Shop in the Fairmont Southampton Hotel.

She will also do a client consultation by appointment only, in her home.

She also has a new space coming on Reid Street, but is not yet ready to reveal the details.

“Some people want a name,” she said. “I think my jewellery is for people who don't need a big name on the label, but can see for themselves the quality and workmanship and really want something special.

“I don't do Harbour Nights. I feel it is not really my market. That's not to say I am a snob or to say I am not open to certain venues.”

Her work ranges in price from $85 to $5,550, but the average piece is between $300 and $400.

She has recently had a lot of success getting the word out about her work through Facebook.

“I like Facebook because I can control what I am doing,” she said. “That has been fun.”

For more information go to www.facebook.com/airyheightsdesign.

Elisa Stubbs of Airy Heights Design with some of her work.
Elisa Stubbs modelling some of her own jewellery.

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Published July 15, 2014 at 9:00 am (Updated July 14, 2014 at 9:58 pm)

A passion for hidden gems

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