I have been following Workhorse Jewelry for several years, but I didn't see the pieces in person until recently. I also met half of the sister duo, Amber, who layers and stacks jewelry better than anyone. This line is brilliant. Each piece is antique inspired but has a modern twist. The designers, Nicole and Amber, have a passion for the meaning and symbolism behind each. For those who love antique jewelry but don't love the hunt, this collection is for you! Get to know a bit more about Nicole and Amber below.
My sister Nicole and I have always been attracted to collecting antiques as far back as we can remember. Every Sunday our grandmother would take us to local flea markets and give us a few dollars to buy tiny ‘treasures’. As we got older this ritual often concluded with the final purchase being a ring or bauble of some sort. Fast forward to college while on a semester abroad program in Florence, Italy, I took an intro to metalsmithing course. I remember one of my first projects was making a convex band ring. I felt so accomplished and stoked on the finished product and also very ‘at home’ with the whole process. I was hooked! A few years after graduation, feeling a bit disenchanted with our first real jobs, we both decided to pursue the craft and went back to Italy to study metalsmithing.
We really don’t sketch much. Sometimes I'll will do a rough drawing to show Nicole what I am thinking about and vice versa but it's not technical. My process is a bit free-form. Before each season I start researching different historical trends or time periods by looking through museum catalogs, library books, web resources, etc. Then I go on a search for the antique pieces that will be the basis for the next collection. Sometimes it just works out that I happen upon a loose theme when buying the originals (celestial or hunting animals for instance) and then I elaborate from there.
The great thing about Workhorse is that each piece is born from the past. Ideas spring up from an endless supply of inspiration: mythology, astrology, history, royalty, mourning jewelry, art deco geometry, weddings, flowers, the moon, travel, vintage fashions, photography, famous women, motherhood, the feminine and so on…
Favorite Designs & Daily Jewels
One of my favorite Workhorse designs is the Victorian hand holding it’s many objects. Not only is it a conversation piece because it looks cool but it moves too! In fact, the original hand fob was one of the first antique pieces we purchased and it played a big part in the initial inspiration for the company.
A favorite in my personal collection is a yellow gold diamond-shaped signet ring with black enamel I found at a flea market with my and my fiancé’s initials intertwined. What kismet to find a ring I loved WITH the perfect initials - it had to be mine.
We have so many styles so it’s really fun to change it up. I love to wear a ton of cuffs and our pave signet rings have been on repeat lately. But there are a few items I rarely take off: my grandfather’s vintage Longines watch, a pair of tiny mismatched initial studs from Zoe Chicco, one for my son and one for my fiancé and my engagement ring.
Other than jewelry: We like to cook, hang out with friends, travel, eat! I’m lucky – I live in the Palm Springs area and nine months out of the year the weather is perfect. I love to sit outside with a glass of wine and watch my son, Wilder, run around. Nicole just recently had a baby boy in August so we look forward to spending time together whenever we can outside of work.
Favorite Artists & Designers
I've always been drawn to black + white photography. Some of my faves include Henri Cartier Bresson, Edward Weston, Vivian Maier and ManRay.
Lately we’ve been crushing on a few stylists & interior designers via Instagram – Sarah Sherman Samuel, Justina Blakeney, Amber interiors.
As for clothing, I like feminine pieces that are bohemian and fun - my favorite designers include Ulla Johnson, Doen and Heidi Merrick. Nicole is more of a tomboy and her tastes seem to the more organic and nostalgic. She loves vintage basics like tees and overalls and has been coveting a hat from Sam Roberts LA.
Currently listening to: My go to artist is Nicki Bluhm – she’s a true song bird and is so great live. I’ve never been a huge music person and usually prefer a podcast, NPR, or talk radio but my fiancé recently introduced me to Tom Petty’s Buried treasures channel (Sirius) and I’m obsessed with all the vintage tunes he plays.