This week, I’m thrilled to introduce to you a designer whom I have admired for a few years now. I first saw her signature “Needle Eye” cuffs while perusing jewelry ideas and immediately fell in love with her simple yet unique take on a traditional style. I’m excited to announce…
To celebrate her debut at our shop, Tura and I will be running a two-week trunk show to showcase her best-selling handmade chains, diamond-set specialty clasps, elegant pendants, and earrings that you’re sure to love. Make an appointment to visit us November 11 – November 21 to browse her made-to-order designs and take 15 percent off your purchase – perfect for holiday gifting! You’ll also be able to shop the collection online if in-person shopping isn’t in the cards.
In the meantime, get to know Tura’s work here in our third segment of our Designer Interview Series!
Meaghan: Please introduce yourself to our readers who may be unfamiliar with your beautiful brand.
Tura: My name is Tura and I am designer and head goldsmith of my brand, Tura Sugden Fine Jewelry. My studio is in San Francisco, California and I launched my collection in 2013 after seven years apprenticing and studying advanced techniques in Belgium, Maine, Tennessee, Kansas, and California and earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2008. I wanted to create a collection of hand-fabricated, one-of-a-kind fine jewelry that was heirloom-quality.
Meaghan: My first introduction to your line is the Needle Eye Cuff, which I thought struck such a beautiful balance between unique design and practical wearability. How would you describe your design aesthetic?
Tura: I try to design pieces that are wearable every day and feel special. The cuffs, in particular, are both weighty and feminine, and they’re customizable. Making the work by hand in our studio means that many of our pieces are one-of-a-kind or are small production. We set every stone in our studio. I have a deep respect for tradition, but I balance that with a modern design aesthetic. Each piece is fabricated using old-world methods – I use a traditional German blow pipe to solder the intricate pieces, some of which can have up to 100 solder seams. It’s an ideal instrument and a rare tool to find in a modern jewelry studio.
Meaghan: That’s fascinating! Can you explain how this works?
Tura: It’s like learning a language – it’s an ancient technique that is difficult to master, but once you get the hang of it, it’s intuitive and immersive. With it a fine flame is manipulated by the breath while the flow of propane is controlled simultaneously by hand. The breath of the artisan is captured in each piece. The collection is brought to life by this technique; it was what allowed me to develop the elevated settings that are so identifiable within the collection.
Meaghan: From where do you draw inspiration for your pieces?
Tura: For me, inspiration can strike at any moment – in the colors of a sunrise or sunset, in the patterns or repetitions in nature, in the way shadows play on surfaces. You can see play of light in the scattered diamond Needle Eye Cuff.
Meaghan: What do you want wearers of your jewelry to feel while they are wearing a piece of yours?
Tura: I want people to feel empowered by what they wear and to know that they have chosen an ethically created, thoughtful piece of jewelry. I want them to feel light in what they’re wearing, not weighed down by heavy gold. I want people who wear my jewelry to feel like they have a connection to ancient techniques.
Meaghan: Your brand has been recognized as a Green Business by the City of San Francisco. What do you think is the most important consideration when contemplating a “green” model in the jewelry industry? What should consumers consider?
Tura: For us, being “green” is a multifold project. Making sure that our sourcing is transparent and ethical is very important to me. We use only recycled and Fairmined gold and platinum for our creations and purchase both from reputable suppliers. Additionally, we consider our studio to be an extension of this thinking. Our goal in our studio is zero waste – we recycle, compost, and reuse everything we can. We use only LED bulbs, we carefully control our energy output, and our studio uses less than a gallon of water a day (which is super important in drought-prone California!).
But being “green” is not just respecting our earth, it’s also about respecting our employees. We are committed to working ethically, safely, and responsibly in the studio. We minimize the use of harmful chemicals in the environment via a specialized air ventilation system to reduce fumes, allergens, and airborne particulates and we use only the highest rated handmade HEPA/Charcoal filters.
Meaghan: What do you wish clients understood better about the jewelry design and fabrication process?
Tura: I want clients to know that each piece takes hours to produce and when you buy my designs, you’re purchasing a truly handmade piece that supports artisans who have dedicated their lives to making. Each link is formed by hand and each solder joint has been carefully tested. We don’t send a piece of jewelry into the world that we don’t completely love and believe in, and sometimes that means that selling a special piece is emotional. It’s not just a business in our studio; we want our clients to love their jewelry and we are committed to creating these pieces in the most thoughtful way possible. When a piece finds the perfect home, it makes my heart swell.
Thank you, Tura! We’re so happy to feature your work.
Alexandria & Company is an Old Town-based workshop and design studio specializing in creating and restoring fine jewelry and silver hollowware. They are the in-the-know jewelers of Alexandria and have been serving clients out of their small workshop for decades. Tucked in their historic building on South Royal Street, the team at Alx&Co. brings a personalized, modern approach to their craft – this is not your average stodgy jeweler or antique shop. Visit them during their walk-in hours or online to view their collection of handmade fine jewelry or to drop off a repair project; or, if you’re feeling creative, make an appointment to talk about that custom design project you’ve been imagining.
121-B South Royal Street
Alexandria, Virginia 22314
Design Studio Walk-In Hours (all jewelry services): Wednesday – Saturday 12-6pm
Silver Workshop Walk-In Hours (all silver repair and restoration services): Wednesday or Friday 12-6pm, or by appointment
Appointments encouraged for custom design.