Photo: Sera Mac
For most, the hardest part in deciding what kind of jewelry to wear is whether to choose silver or gold, but, for fashionistas, the choice is always both. Helen Stewart, creative director of Jewels of Avallon, a Malibu, Calif.-based jewelry maker that designs sexy, earthy jewelry for today’s bohemians, understands this. The unique conversation pieces she designs are wearable art—a tribute to modern day goddesses, fairies and mermaids.
Each piece is electro-formed in sterling silver or 24-karat gold, incorporating semiprecious stones, real leaves, coral, sand dollars, sea horses and starfish. Some pieces look as if they were dusted with glittering gold dust. Others have iridescent stones and shimmering crystals.
With colors that invoke the most beautiful oceans, forests and gardens, each piece is handmade—one-of-a-kind—and can be customized to the client’s specifications. “I always try to follow my bliss, which is one of my favorite quotes by Joseph Campbell, ‘Follow your bliss and doors will open where there were no doors before,’ ” says Stewart, who is a mother of three. She started Jewels of Avallon two years ago, after finishing an apprenticeship with a clothing and jewelry designer.
Growing up in Malibu, with the beach as her backyard Stewart recalls her inspiration to start her own line, “I loved making necklaces with sea shells, moonstones and seaweed for string, and pretending that I was a mermaid.” This childhood fantasy, along with her favorite book, became a strong influence for her collection. The Mists of Avalon, written by lesbian fantasy fiction author Marion Zimmer Bradley, explores the Arthurian legend from a woman’s perspective. Captivated by the women of Avalon, Stewart says, “the ideas to create the pieces just flow.”
Stewart’s cousin, The L Word star, Daniela Sea, is a big fan of her work. She wears a few custom pieces all the time and says people always ask her where she got them. “People always comment on how amazing and unique they are, from stylists to artist friends of mine,” says Sea. “Her pieces act as a kind of magic talisman as I move through the world. Her work truly inspires me.”
As a trained Shaman who works with healing stones, Stewart has traveled around the world to South America, Egypt and Europe selecting gems, shells and stones blessed with healing powers. While Stewart’s fame in Hollywood is growing—Kate Hudson also wears her jewelry—her future plans for expansion include a men’s jewelry line and possibly wedding commitment rings