Call of the wild: jewelry designer Jes MaHarry turns to nature--and gives back.Jewelry designer Jes MaHarry's creations (jesmaharry.com) make more than just a fashion statement--they are also a means to connect people to a variety of environmental causes that the designer holds dear, from using reclaimed metal, conflict-free diamonds and recycled leather to donating proceeds to environmental charities.
Her designs feature an eclectic combination of rugged organic materials arranged with classic metals and gemstones and embellished with her signature carvings. Using items such as ancient beads and charms and old Venetian glass, her mixed-media collections have drawn followers from around the world. A reverence for nature and inspirational quotes are twin themes in many pieces, such as a metal "Peaceable Kingdom" cuff depicting birds, an elephant, horse, bear, fox, owl and other animals along with the engraved message: "Honor all Creatures Great and Small Radiate Sunshine Love Love."
Following Her Heart
MaHarry never studied jewelry design, even though it had been her passion since childhood, when she used to fashion jewelry out of found items like rusty bottle caps and feathers. After years of wondering "What do I do with my life?" and working long hours at odd jobs, MaHarry took the advice of her sister who suggested she follow her passion instead of trying to squelch it. "When I finally became true to my inner self, life really blossomed into a wonderful bouquet of blessings," MaHarry says.
What ensued was a skyrocketing career that began with local trunk shows and eventually landed her designs in Robert Redford's Sundance Catalog in 2000. MaHarry has been the most-featured, best-selling jewelry designer for the catalog for the past decade. The exposure has allowed her to reach tens of millions, shedding light on the causes that she is passionate about, all while following her life-long bliss.
Designs for the Earth
Deeply invested in environmental, animal and humanitarian issues, MaHarry regularly designs pieces for her Jewels for Kindness collection, raising money and awareness for a variety of organizations that work to protect the very things that inspire her designs. "With all the goodness that fills my life, I am always looking for ways to give back and create uplifting change" MaHarry says.
Her most recent collaboration, which debuted in late 2011, is with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). After traveling to NRDC headquarters and learning about their global programs dedicated to the protection of wildlife and wild places, MaHarry says, "It is one of the most amazing nonprofits that I have ever been involved with."
She created a collection of pendants, necklaces, cuffs, bracelets, rings and key chains that highlight a few of the organization's key missions with creative simplicity. A whale and dolphin playfully coexist on a metal cuff inscribed "Never Give Up." An owl sits among hand-carved tree branches on a pendant encrusted with diamonds. An earth-blue stone is surrounded by hand carvings of prayer feathers engraved into a recycled rose gold band. A portion of the proceeds from the collection will be donated to the NRDC.
MaHarry's compassion and commitment to protecting the earth extend into her everyday life. Her Sun Horse Ranch in Ojai, California, is full of rescued ranch animals that she now cares for, as well as dogs and cats in foster care awaiting good homes. Organic gardens supply the food for homecooked meals, and her family and a small staff work alongside her in the Jes MaHarry Studio located on the ranch.
MaHarry's eco-aware lifestyle has helped inform her expanded designs, too. No longer is the Jes MaHarry brand only associated with jewelry. Now she has an organic clothing collection, hand-blended fragrances and artisan-made home decor, all using eco-friendly materials and created by local talent. "I want to bring an awareness to others of being pure in an American-made way," MaHarry says. "I want to share the good things that I've learned."
KIMBERLY BUTTON is the author of The Everything Guide to a Healthy Home (Adams Media) and Orlando Green Travel (Sutro Media).