Golden Girls

They might have started their careers in marketing, photo styling or public relations, but these locally grown talents couldn’t ignore their passion to create jewelry any longer.

Laurann Claridge and Jenny Antill. Photography Jack Thompson.
August 06, 2013

Whether they were seduced by glistening pavé-set diamonds or the mystery behind gemstones that once graced a maharajah’s crown, this up-and-coming design set and their distinct golden chains, gobstopper rings and delicate earrings have caught our collective eye.

Tara Levitin, Leviticus Jewelry 

Tara Levitin’s jewels are haunted by the past. Culling together vintage artifacts and found oddities with a mixture of metals, Levitin designs necklaces — many of them one-of-a-kind — of faceted stones and antique charms and ephemera such as tiny pairs of scissors dangling from black and golden chains. Her bold rings make a statement without the wearer having to utter a word — perfect for the cocktail set that prefers its tinctures strong and bracing: the head of a hummingbird with a long pointy beak, rendered in silver, or an oversized pavé of purple crystals that forms a wide dome between one’s knuckles. Her collection, named Leviticus Jewelry after her late brother Levi, isn’t driven by fashion trends. Its dark and dramatic spin is a more personal endeavor, with new styles added as inspiration strikes. $25 to $200, at We Are 1976, Dallas; Alibi, New York City;

Lauren Craft, Lauren Craft Collection 

One thing is obvious when you peruse Lauren Craft’s array of jewels: This girl loves diamonds. Admittedly obsessed with the pricey stones (particularly pavé), this 20-something doesn’t always play favorites, sprinkling sapphires, pink tourmalines, kyanite and amethysts into the glamorous mix she binds with every hue of gold. Craft, who once worked with designer Alexis Bittar in New York, describes her jewelry as “über-luxe and fun,” as evidenced by the pieces’ catchy names (Champagne Campaign is one of her favorites) and glamorous feel. Her influences venture from art and architecture to foreign travel, nature and beauty; she’s also intrigued by the designs of Irene Neuwirth and the edgy work of Bernard Delettrez and his daughter Delfina. Craft’s own aesthetic ranges from the subversive and macabre to the exotic and sweet. Therefore, it’s no surprise that her spring collection was all about exploring contradictions and “finding who the Lauren Craft woman is.” We love the diamonds, skulls and elliptical shapes — classic designs, tweaked, with a story to tell. $385 to $22,000, at Coquette, Kátia, Sloan/Hall;

JoAnnWilliams, Severe Beading

JoAnn Williams began designing jewelry a dozen years ago, after a successful career as a photo stylist and art therapist; during that time, she even founded Art Bridge, an arts program for homeless children living in our city’s shelters. Today, Williams finds herself drawn to woven items (be they cloth, nests or baskets made by an artisan) and preoccupied with imagery found in nature, from botanical and aquatic forms to rocks, fossils, even insects. Long inspired by the work of the late Tina Chow and Alexander McQueen, as well as Judy Geib, Williams hand-weaves her own designs using silk and vintage metallic threads. She composes her hand-cast silver and gold creations with found objects as diverse as the mouth of a stingray, an amber hand-carved bee and old stones severed from the crowns of Indian maharajahs. This year, she’s crafting long mother-of-pearl necklaces based on traditional mala beads, with quatrefoil and hamsa motifs and tassels. $125 to $2,000, at PG Contemporary, Sloan/Hall, Twenty Six Twenty;

Joanie Herring

Diamonds might be a girl’s best friend, but pearls are what have stolen designer Joanie Herring’s heart. Inspired by the iridescence of freshwater and South Sea pearls, the Houston native (who is also a budding painter) delicately threads these classic gems from beneath the sea with gold, oxidized silver and even stainless steel. She embellishes her ladylike pieces with sparkles of colored diamonds, pyrite, quartz and tourmalines. After 15 years, her collection has taken a decidedly bolder turn, incorporating large statement pieces that require nothing more than a slip of a dress or a white shirt to grab one’s attention. From $500, at Kuhl-Linscomb, Sloan/Hall.

Halleh Amiralai, Halleh

After growing up in Houston, Halleh Amiralai made her way east to Boston to pursue an education, then to try her hand at ready-to-wear in NYC at Chanel and Temperley London. She returned to Texas more than three years ago to focus on her own collection of 18K-gold jewelry. Some of the pieces are textured with hand-hammering; others have a satin finish awash with diamonds and semiprecious stones. Her inspirations include the designs of Ilias Lalaounis and the book Jewellery in the Age of Queen Victoria. Her own boho-chic vibe, however, draws heavily from her Iranian heritage, with a nod to the seasons and architectural lines. $400 to $25,000, at Sloan/Hall;;