(By Grace Gold for Fashion Pulse Daily; this feature is an extension of coverage of the Palladium Project)
I found out first-hand when talented FIT student Carlee Gustin set out to custom design an original piece for me. I asked for two things – that it feel soft and feminine – which was quite the challenge, given the industrial look of the material that sponsor Palladium provided as part of a FIT partnership program. Palladium is a naturally white precious metal that belongs to the platinum family, and is known for its strength, light weight and rich color.
A feather bracelet cuff is what Gustin cleverly created, with delicate detailing that brought the requested sense of softness and femininity to the piece, as well as a strong Native American influence. The FIT student shares more about the design journey below, as well as what it’s like to study and pursue jewelry design.
Grace Gold: Where did you find the inspiration for your feather cuff, and what do you feel were the most important aspects of the design?
Carlee Gustin: I am very inspired by old Native American jewelry. To me the feather represents flight and being free, something that should be a trait of all women. I love how the texture of the feather came out, it is exactly what I originally envisioned.
GG: What is the most challenging aspect of designing jewelry?
CG: I think the most challenging aspect of designing jewelry is figuring out how to make the piece work mechanically. You can have an amazing idea, but if its not wearable or comfortable, it probably won’t sell.
GG: What personal piece of jewelry is your most beloved, and why?
CG: A bracelet my dad gave me, he has passed away. Every time I wear it, I think of him. To me, jewelry is such a memorable and lasting gift…something to treasure.
GG: What made you pick jewelry design as a career?
CG: I’ve always been very creative and have been making jewelry and sewing for as long as I can remember. I started taking it more seriously when I was about 15 and have been designing, making, and selling jewelry ever since!
[Jewelry designer and FIT student Carlee Gustin]
CG: The jewelry major at FIT is very hands on, which is perfect for me. The studio classes are my favorite, because I love creating things. My professors have all been so helpful and are always pushing and challenging me.
GG: What do you think the biggest misconception is about jewelry?
CG: I don’t think people realize how much work goes into making jewelry from beginning to end.
GG: What advice do you have for someone who wants to study jewelry design?
CG: I am all about following your dreams. I believe you can make anything happen for yourself as long as you stay focused, work hard, and want it enough.
To find out more about Carlee Gustin’s designs, please visit www.carleegustin.com
You can also reach the designer directly at email@example.com