Based out of Seattle, LOLiDE is a jewelry brand that focuses on ethical engagement and wedding jewelry that isn’t gender-specific.
How would you describe your handcrafted jewelry?
For me, jewelry is essentially sculpture. I love to play with the tension between organic and industrial shapes. I find inspiration in the intersection of light and dark, order and chaos, natural and industrial — things that connect my Virginia childhood with my new home in Seattle. I try to reflect a feeling of time, movement, and unexpected beauty in my designs; a marriage of my past and present. I have a background in printmaking, and I love architecture, so jewelry-making allows me to incorporate both aesthetics. I try to make every creation a small work of art, touched by a real person, unique to its wearer.
Can you tell us about your commitment to being an ethical jeweler? What does it mean to you?
When people think of ethical jewelry, they usually think of ecology. For me, ethics also include the holistic intentions of the maker. It’s important to me to support social justice causes, both in word and deed. I like to provide a safe place for clients who may not always feel welcome in traditional jewelry spaces.
I strive to create pieces of art that make the least environmental impact. I use non-toxic processes, as well as recycled and fair-mined metal. The diamonds I use are lab-created, and I track the provenance of other gemstones. In addition, I’ve converted to compostable packaging. My whole studio reflects my commitment to reducing negative impacts and supporting positive change.
When it comes to trends, what do you see in the world of engagement and wedding jewelry?
I’m really excited by new ways of thinking about family and relationships. I want to help my clients move toward authentic, organic ways of relating to themselves and the people they love. The strides being made by the LGBTQIA+ community right now are so inspiring. I would love to create more pieces for relationship anarchists, helping them redefine romance, family, and friendship in more personal and poetic ways.
I’m also inspired by people who reject misogynistic traditions that still dominate wedding symbols and ceremonies in heterosexual, same-sex, and non-binary unions. She asks “him” to marry “her,” choosing rings together, wearing red, walking down the aisle together, or choosing a new name rather than one person taking the others. These can be powerful statements that, with time, can start to break down the foundation of sexism and ownership that underpins traditional marriage and instead makes it truly about partnership. It all comes back to playing with the tensions between order and chaos, old and new.
Jewelry is a beautiful, traditional way to signify fidelity and permanence. Still, you never want to get stuck in convention for convention’s sake, especially if those conventions are rooted in patriarchal oppression and exclusion.
Do these trends impact what you create, or do you work closely with clients to create completely custom pieces?
At heart, I’m an artist and a designer, so I love creating beautiful, unique things. It’s your piece. It can – and should – be anything you want it to be! I also understand that this is a long-term investment, so ultimately my job is to make something people will love and cherish decades into the future. I try to find a happy medium, incorporating recognizable elements, but with a modern, individualistic spin. My celebration pendants are a perfect example. Not everyone can or wants to wear a ring, but they may still want that special unifying piece to share with their partner and wear every day.
Do you see many couples create their engagement and wedding jewelry together rather than keeping it a surprise? If you do, what are the pros and cons of this process?
I’m grateful that my work attracts clients who communicate throughout the process. I like to get a sense of the connection people share, which is always the best inspiration for a wedding ring architect. My best work is always a reflection of the unique bonds between people who value and respect each other. There are still a few people who want their rings to be a surprise, but there are so many drawbacks to that approach, which is rooted in patriarchal ideas of ownership and inequality.
From ring size to design, it can go wrong in so many ways. I have re-made rings for many people who were unhappy with the first one they received. They generally tell me, “It just wasn’t my style.” I also help a lot of people heading into their second marriages. They are much more likely to come in together and be very clear about what they want. They usually tell me they did things the traditional way the first time, and they are not interested in repeating the experience. I find the best outcomes happen when people are transparent and honest about what they want from the start and honor each other’s unique qualities.