Saturday, September 12, 2009

HERNDON HEALD

Today we visit the Sante Fe Plaza in New Mexico, the place where politics, commerce, and social interests mesh. Originally constructed as a fort nearly 400 years ago, the Plaza houses the Palace of the Governors, which happens to be the oldest building in the United States. New Mexico is also the home base for jewelry company Herndon Heald.

The name Herndon Heald is a composite of three names: married couple Mark and Naomi Herndon, and Jeri Lynn Heald.

Seemingly brought together by fate, the trio crossed paths when they all set up homesteads in Sante Fe, New Mexico. "Mark and I moved here when he accepted a teaching job at a metalsmithing school," explains Naomi Herndon, who once apprenticed with Cartier. "I met Jeri Lynn while I was working for a jewelry company. One of us manages the business, one handles manufacturing, and one of us does the creating. Finding the right partners was number one."

Ultimately, the jewelry making skills of all three heavily influence each design. "We take inspiration from older jewelry," Naomi continues. "Jeri Lynn does a lot of weaving and crocheting techniques, Mark brings his expertise in Native American jewelry, and my background is sculpture."

The trio established their company just two years ago, and it is not without its share of challenges. "Some people think it's just about making pretty things, but it is like running a marathon sometimes every week," says Naomi.

One of the most important aspects of running their business is showing appreciation for the additional artisans they employ. "I had worked with a jewelry company that took a stance with the treatment of their employees I did not feel comfortable with," Naomi acknowledges. "We wanted to create a company in line with our morals."

The designers' refined jewelry possesses a distinct, East Indian flair such as their Novia Hoop Earrings made with sterling silver and dangling, pink tourmaline stones. The jewelry is divided into four major collections: yellow gold, sterling silver, rose gold, and mixed metals.

Pieces are offset with beautiful smoky quartz, labradorite, rubies, green chrysoprase, moonstones, and chalcedony. Many items feature what is notably the designers' signature touch: hammered paillete discs in gold or silver. "We make our own hammers for creating certain textures," Naomi says.

The jewelry is primarily minimalist, clean with neutral tones like pale greens, and creamy whites, although other items featured at Katybeh.com highlight designs with brilliant color.

Some pendants are suspended from leather cords; in fact, there are eye-catching leather items including the Leather Ladder Bracelet with pieces of silver riveted into the leather, and the Tie Me Up in Knots Bracelet, made with small, leather knots set between gorgeous, sage pearls. Overall, the collections are elegantly understated and great for the woman who doesn't like feeling overwhelmed by jewelry or high-end prices.

There's something else special about their pieces, their tag. "Our jewelry's tag bears an anvil with a heart symbol in it. We wanted something that is specifically us," Naomi offers.

"In the past, jewelry was passed down. We want to bring that back. It may be just a silver cuff, but it belonged to a great grandmother. Our tag lets our customers know the care taken to make each piece."
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Photo 1 (top right): Five-Strand Cascade Bracelet with Hammered Sterling Pailletes on Sterling Silver
Photo 2 (bottom left): Peruvian Opal Pathways Bracelet with 14-Karat Gold Bead and a Singe Pearl
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