It's tough to pin down exactly what makes Venessa Arizaga's eponymous jewelry line so special. It could be the quirky, one-of-a-kind charms that she's collected over the years, or the fact that each piece is hand-crafted — in sweet patterns created from crocheting, sewing, and knotting — evoking the sense that it was made with love and care. Whatever it is, we can't get enough, which is why we visited Venessa in her Brooklyn studio, where she taught us how to make a sunny charm bracelet that is the perfect pick-me-up for our summer wardrobes.
Although Venessa has an impressive background in fashion — with stints at Zac Posen and Carolina Herrera under her belt — her jewelry career started as a hobby. "It began with me at the beach picking up a shell here and there — wanting to wear it and not knowing what to do with it," she explained. "I'd just string things together to create a beautiful and unusual piece, and I would think, 'what can I do with my grandmother's locket or my dad's cross?' It was kind of sentimental."
Venessa has an enviable collection of vintage charms from her travels, but it's easier than you'd think to start finding some of your own. "I love searching eBay for charms, I think it's a really great source," she tells us. "You can literally type in any crazy thing you're thinking about, and you'll find it! Vintage is great because it has character — it's someones past. I love going to vintage stores and hobby shops and finding little trinkets and picking up things, or finding old jewelry and taking it apart and dissecting it."
If you're hoping to start making jewelry and are in need of inspiration, the designer suggests looking through books at the library, or rummaging through your family's collection of old accessories. Even with no jewelry-making experience, Venessa wholeheartedly believes that anyone can create in their own gorgeous pieces and tell their own stories. Read on for tips from Venessa and a step-by-step guide on how to recreate one of her signature charm bracelets at home.
To begin, take about four strands — plus some heavy thread to give the bracelet texture — and measure them so each is about a yard in length. Go back and forth, folding the thread over itself five or six times to get the right thickness, and then cut. Snip ends as you go along to avoid lumps.