Les Bijoux

My love affair with jewels never wanes. When I hold a piece of fine jewelry I can’t help but imagine the designer’s hands bringing the raw materials to life and the designer’s eyes watching each minute detail affect the final piece. In my opinion even a newly created piece of jewelry shows hints of the history it will someday hold – even after being worn just once.

For our 8th anniversary my sweet husband (who is used to subtle hints) bought me a beautiful necklace hand crafted by a dear friend from Vermont. I have worn it every day since it was given to me. I can’t help but reach up to my collarbone throughout the day to feel it’s presence and marvel at how each opal was linked to the solid gold chain by hand – by a friend’s hand. I cherish it.

Me Wearing My New Necklace and a Stunning Pair of Judi’s Gemstone Flower Earrings

The necklace was made by Judi McCormick of Judi McCormick Jewelry – a beautiful lady who has great taste and is clever and creative. Judi lives in Vermont, has a vegetable and herb garden that makes me green with envy, and generously and regularly opens her home to friends, her children, grandchildren, and her children’s friends (READ: The Pless Family). Judi is a photographer and former-fashion designer – who in the winter of 2000 decided to turn her focus to designing jewelry. In 2009, she graduated from the Gemological Institute of America with a graduate degree in Pearls and Colored Gemstones. A true Renaissance Woman, she also works at Christie’s Auction House in New York City as a Gallery Assistant in Jewelry and Art. She has gathered years of knowledge and joyfully shares her craft. Our photo shoot was a pleasure and I marveled at each piece I held – watching them come to life under the bright Vermont sun.

The Artist, In Her Home, In Her Own Designs

Images: Jane Sobel Klonsky

Les Bijoux

Jewels Taking Flight

Jewels in Recline

One of Many Unique Hoops Adorned with Corral and Pearls

Gemstone and Pearl Cuffs

One of Judi’s Signature “Constellation” Pearls with Sapphires Embedded within the Pearl

Ellie and the Gems

A Single Strand of Pearls with a Magnetic Clasp and Flower Pendant Attached

Opals on Gold

Stained Glass Hoops

The smaller necklaces are ideal for layering.

Summer flowers that last forever.

Variations on Pearls

Q&A with Judy McCormick of Judy McCormick Jewelry

Why do you like to make jewelry?

I like making jewelry when it’s exciting for me. I love the different colors, textures and shapes. It’s really the same when you are making any kind of art and I consider jewelry, art.

What makes pearls so special?

Pearls are an organic gem and can be grown, or “cultured” and, therefore, are self-sustainable. When you realize that a pearl is created by a mussel or oyster layering and layering and layering nacre, the pearl becomes a mesmerizing orb that MUST have some magical properties. This effect has the same results as a breathtaking European car that has 25 coats of paint!

What is the different between a pearl created on a “pearl farm” and a pearl found in the open waters?

95% of the pearls on the market today are created on a pearl farm or, as the industry calls it, cultured. Even, the beautiful Mikimoto pearls are cultured. Pearls found in open waters or natural pearls are the accidental result of an irritant getting inside a mollusk. Cultured pearls have a nucleus (irritant) shell bead and a tiny piece of mantel tissue surgically inserted inside the mollusk, so it will start coating the nucleus with nacre.

What is your favorite type of pearl?

Oh dear! So many beautiful pearls, but I think I would have to confess to loving the Black or grey Tahitian pearls. Different oysters and conditions in the water cause many different overtones, so a black pearl can have a rose, or blue, or green, even a combination of all of the above. I also confess I loved it so much that I tried to duplicate this coloration on my dining room walls!

How did you learn to weld jewelry?

Yes, that was and is a lot of trial and error. It really is just doing it over and over. I have taken several classes and private sessions at Metalwerx in Waltham, MA. They have a great supportive community of excellent artists.

Gemstones and Gold – Welded by Judi

Why use magnets?

Because they are easy! Using magnets progressed to my new designs of Magic Necklaces and Connectors, which are necklaces that have magnetic clasps that can “connect” to accessory pieces that also have magnets to create multiple looks. It’s like using different belts with your dress.

A magnetic pendant linked to a stunning necklace

Do you enjoy making special order pieces?

I love special order pieces, because it is a process of working with someone who has an idea and trying to figure out how to make their piece even better that their original vision. It’s a lot of working back and forth with what can technically work, as well.

If I client’s significant other were to call you – what would be the process of designing a one-of-a-kind piece?

I would suggest he/she look at some of the work that I have done to get an idea from which to work. That is not always the case, but it helps with the discussion to have actual visuals. We would work out a plan for their cost level and design desires and make it happen.

What are the prices one can expect to pay for your pieces?

The median range for the collection is between $250 and $900. There are some more expensive pieces though with South Sea, Tahitian, and Vietnamese Pearls. My prices are usually more reasonable than most stores because I source the pearls directly.

What materials do you use on your work and why?

My designs are twists on the classics, so I traditionally work with the usual jewelry components. I don’t usually make jewelry from car parts or broken pottery, but, never say never….

Images: Lindley Pless

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