Dec 23, 2013
12:57 PMStyle & Design
Glittering 'Rock Candy' From Connecticut Jewelry Designer Holly Shannon
Laurie Gaboardi/The Litchfield County Times.
A piece from designer Holly Shannon's Rock Candy Collection.
(page 1 of 2)
Holly Shannon arrived at Marty’s Cafe, a quaint coffee shop in her hometown of Washington, decorated in two necklaces from her 21st Century Cleopatra jewelry line–a gold plated scarab and a beaded strand she had wrapped twice around her neck.
She looked like a walking advertisement for her work, which she said is intentional. She wears the pieces because she loves them, but also to show potential buyers how good the necklaces, bracelets and earrings can look on them, too.
“I wear them every day,” said Ms. Shannon. “It shows people that they can layer and it looks cool. You can mix fine and fashion jewelry.”
As a designer, but first and foremost a jewelry lover, Ms. Shannon believes in the fun of accessories and wants to show people that there doesn’t have to be limits to what you wear. You can mix and match. You can layer different pieces. You can sport different pops of color.
“You can make a statement with your jewelry,” Ms. Shannon said with a smile.
Clad in a pair of dusty grey skinny jeans, a black V-neck sweater and knee-high boots, she motioned to herself and said, “This time of year we all tend to have our uniforms. Everyone is wearing black and skinny jeans. You’re a canvas, play with it. Fall is the season for layering.”
For this holiday season, Ms. Shannon has created a new fine jewelry line playfully named the Rock Candy Collection for its resemblance to the colorful childhood candy. She arranges different brightly colored gemstones, like emeralds and pink tourmaline, on delicate silver or gold chains. The close positioning of each stone causes it to jut out at different angles, which causes the grouping to look like a piece of rock candy.
“It’s the childhood treat reimagined,” Ms. Shannon explained. “I loved the abstract quality of it.”
This collection is perfect when paired with a little black dress. The delicate arrangement and bright pops of color make the Rock Candy Collection a statement piece, but one with elegance.
Since venturing into the world of jewelry design and fabrication in 2000, Ms. Shannon has created three full lines including Rock Candy.
Her first called, All Things Wings, was inspired by nature. A swallow pendant necklace and a molded silver plate bracelet engraved with the shape of a butterfly are two key pieces in the collection. When she sculpted a scarab beetle pendent, the collection took off in a different direction.
“I was inspired by the idea of the Egyptian scarab and the sacred history behind it,” said Ms. Shannon. “It goes back in time and made me think of Cleopatra wearing that piece–sexy, high-up on the neck with glittering beads surrounding it–and so was born the 21st Century Cleopatra collection.”
The Cleopatra collection is categorized by sculpted, kiln-fired pendants and earrings and long-beaded necklaces in black, crimson, deep blue, silver and gold. The scarab necklace is currently being sold at the New Preston-based boutique, J.Seitz & Co., along with some of her other pieces.
The Connecticut native bounced around the state for a number of years before finally settling in Washington with her husband and son, Liam. After going to school for international business, Ms. Shannon spent some time as an event planner. She spent a number of years working at the Mayflower Inn in Washington and, when she became pregnant with her son, she took some time off and turned her focus to art.
“I remembered playing with clay when I was a child, so I decided to take a class,” said Ms. Shannon.
She began sculpting female nudes, which she was surprised to discover, “actually looked like nudes,” she recalled with a laugh, “So I kept doing it.”