If you’ve purchased from Jewel of Havana, you know most of the pieces come with a card sharing the stories and inspiration behind the jewelry you select. The stories seem to naturally follow the arc of my life but my hope has always been to provide meaningful work to accompany your life stories and celebrations.
I was recently contacted by one of the first collectors of my work. Her daughter was opening as Little Red Riding Hood in a production of the musical Into the Woods and she wanted a meaningful gift to mark the occasion for her opening night.
She selected a piece from the Into the Woods Collection and asked two things: could I get it to her in time and did I have a story card to go with it? Into the Woods was one of my earliest collections, and though I had an inspirational story behind it, I never put it in writing. I didn’t want to disappoint her so I started the process of creating a new story card for her gift.
The Backstory - Into the Woods
You may know me as a jewelry artist, but before that, I had a 25-year career performing on Broadway. One of my biggest influences has always been Stephen Sondheim. I studied everything he did and was moved by his lyrics, his mind, and his music. I couldn’t wait to get to New York and see his work in person.
25 years later, life brought me back to my hometown with a new business and a new adventure ahead.
My parents are avid gardeners and have the most beautiful property with so many nooks and crannies to get lost in nature. I was inspired to use the leaves and textures from their gardens for this collection. It seemed only fitting I would name it Into the Woods as a tribute to my family, and the beginning of a new life. Going into the unknown can lead to so many wonderful things.
I hope the jewelry pieces in this collection help you celebrate your path wherever you may be and remind you to wish, to dream, “to go to the festival”. "The way is clear, the light is good". "The prettier the flower, the farther from the path" and "Someone is on your side... No one is alone" xo Ana
Are You Game Day Ready?
Huddle Up!! Before you sit down to watch the Superbowl this weekend did you score your most important goal this week?
Valentine's Day is THIS Monday. If you want to be Superbowl ready... grab your Valentines gifts before the game. No matter who wins this weekend, you'll be the MVP on Monday morning. Let me be on your team and help you score a touchdown. 😜
Seriously though, I'm not knocking flowers or chocolates. They are lovely. But flowers wilt and if chocolates enter my house, they are gone in under 5.
Meaningful Gifts to Remind Them of You
Happy New Year!
I’m just back from time off to clear and refresh after Jewel of Havana’s best year since our inception. I am so grateful to all of you for your support in 2021 and looking forward to a wonderful year ahead!
Every year Pantone releases the color of the year and this year it’s a brand new color called “Very Peri” (PANTONE 17-3938.) Pantone states, “This particular warm purple delivers an empowering combination of newness as well as the carefree enthusiasm and curiosity of what's to come in the future.”
Basically… it’s a fresh and happy color full of hope and vibrance! Of course, I’m from Louisiana and this beautiful color is one of two we love here (for those who know what I mean 😊)
Pantone Core Classic Colors for Spring/Summer 2022
Jewel of Havana Jewelry Picks with Pantone Colors of the Year
Cape Amethyst or Russian Charoite
Go Very Peri in your jewelry with the rich purples of Cape Amethyst or Russian Charoite. Both are great complements to the classic palette or a nice monochromatic look against Very Peri. You can go straight amethyst too if you're choosing clothes with patterns but I'm loving the movement and color variations of cape amethyst with this palette in solid colors.
Jade or Rhyolite
The color of Nephrite Jade was on Pantone's Color palette for fall in 2019 but I'm loving it with this year's colors. Honestly I think almost any soft green like Rhyolite or shades of Jade will go nicely. But if you would like a pop of a color against them, Burma or Nephrite jade would be my pick.
Which Gemstones Would You Like to See?
Let me know if any of these picks resonate with you. Would you like to see more Very Peri jewelry or more contrasting pieces?
I’m creating like crazy over here & getting lists together for my next stone shopping trip, so now’s the time to weigh in. Which colors or stones would you like to see this year? Let me know in the comments or shoot me an email. I'd love to hear from you before the next gem show. Happy 2022!! xo Ana
Where is Maligano Jasper Found?
Interviewing the supplier, I learned one of the reasons I had never seen the stone was it’s a relatively new discovery. It was discovered less than 10 years ago (2011-2012) in a small village in Indonesia called Sulawesi in South East Asia (part of the Sunda Islands). It’s only just now making it’s way to the main stream market. In fact, of all the suppliers in the massive gem show that day, this was the only one that had a selection of the stone (or did… because I bought them out… LOL)
Maligano Jasper is a protective, healing and grounding stone. It is believed to repel negativity, keep you safe in navigating life transformations and encourages harmony, balance and stability. It offers comfort and peace and can help melt away stress or tension.
Each of these Maligano Jasper treasures will be hard to say goodbye to but I hope you will get lost in the story of your piece as much I as do each time I look at it.
Yours will arrive lovingly in a beautiful leatherette presentation box with a card describing the properties of the stone. May it melt away the worries of the world and bring you peace, harmony and happiness. xo Ana
After a few days off to recover & renew I came back to get your orders...well...in order.
As I’m finishing up a few of these Steel Magnolias to ship today, it hit me. Every year I choose a word of inspiration for the year to help me focus on what I want more of. Do you do that too? For the past two years my word was "abundance". It served me well & brought so much with it.
As I’m sitting here polishing this last little magnolia to ship to her forever home, my new word for the year just jumped out at me. RESILIENCE!
The magnolia (in addition to being the State Flower for Louisiana & Mississippi) is thought to be one of the first flowers on Earth. Found in fossils dating back 20 million years, it has had to adapt to changing climactic & geological conditions in order to survive making it the symbol of endurance, strength & eternity.
The term Steel Magnolia is a southern term for a woman who exemplifies both traditional femininity as well as uncommon strength. If 2020 taught us anything it is that we are all resilient. We all found our way through the pivots, twists & turns to navigate this new world no matter how hard it got.
We are all Steel Magnolias and for me, this little flower helps me remember in times when I don’t feel so strong that this too shall pass. We are stronger than we know. We are resilient. We are Steel Magnolias.
Here's to a resilient, healthy and happy new year y’all! What's your word for this year?
When I started Jewel of Havana I wanted to create jewelry that makes you feel beautiful; that celebrates life's special moments and connects you to those you love. I also wanted to be able to give back to some of the causes that do good in our community and make the life we are celebrating that much sweeter.
It's no secret 2020 has been a challenging year for businesses and many not for profits have really been hit hard. This year more than ever giving gifts that give back not only helps the business you are buying from but pays it forward in our community and beyond.
Here are a few of the organizations we work with all year round where your shopping dollars at Jewel of Havana help support not for profits in our community.
I'm back with the next video in our jewelry care series on the blog...
In this video, I share a few tips on how to put on your favorite bracelets by yourself when there's no one around to help. We cover how to put on spring clasps, tube clasps, bracelets with weight in the middle and a public service announcement about getting your cuff bracelets on and off safely.
Did you know cuff bracelets can snap in half if you squeeze them on and off one too many times? It's called "work hardening". It's why jewelers have to heat the metal once we hammer pieces in to shape for too long. The heat softens the metal so we can keep bending it without breaking it. Once it's hard enough for you to wear, you don't want to keep bending and opening your cuff bracelet or you could have a sad moment on your hands.
If you like this video and tips like these, please share this page with your friends and let me know in the comments below.
Would you like to see more videos like these? Do you have questions about jewelry you'd love answered? Let me know that too so I can bring you more helpful tips in the future. Thanks for watching and happy bracelet wearing! xo Ana
I am so lucky things happened the way they did. There were many moments along the way it could have been different. The GYN could have stopped at the first test. After meeting the specialist and learning there was only a 2 percent chance it was cancer, I could have chosen not to have the surgery. No family history, no one seemed alarmed, etc., but thanks to a Cuban Mom and her loud worry meter, I chose the surgery and found out I was in that 2 percent.
Gifts that Give Back
Here’s Kourtney's BRProud news story about my breast cancer journey and the jewelry that was inspired by it.
Stay safe and if anything is different, go get checked. xo Ana
I’ve been a first generation Cuban-American my entire life & never knew there was a National Hispanic Heritage Month. In fact, I couldn’t find a Hispanic in my circle of friends who knew about it. I don’t need a month to be proud of where we came from. Pride in our strong, weather any storm people, is deep in our roots, but when fellow Cuban (and meteorologist) Ashley Ruiz from BR Proud reached out about her Hispanic Heritage Month Special, I was honored to participate.
The most hilarious part is when I asked her...so what month is it? And she replied... September 15th - October 15th🤣 I mean we can’t even be on time for our own month. 🤣 Cuban time is a real thing people! 🤣🤣
As proud as I am about the strong, resilient people I came from, there are so many similarities in the people of Louisiana and why my parents felt so at home when they moved here. My Mom often shares the story of how she felt when she & my Dad came here to decide if he would accept his job offer at Dow Chemical. Their honeymoon consisted of traveling to the different cities where he had job offers to decide which to take.
Mom said when they arrived in Louisiana, it was the first time since fleeing Cuba that she felt truly at home. The people of Louisiana are so much like Cubans. Family are your friends; your friends are considered family and strangers become friends in an instant. They know how to celebrate life and they turn even the hardest times into a party. They are warm, strong & resilient people who can weather any storm. They have each other’s back & the food is sooooo good.
So… though I am fiercely Cuban I am also fiercely a Louisianian & even more fiercely American. I will never take for granted the sacrifices my parents made for the freedoms we have today & the warmth & joyfulness of the people of Baton Rouge who welcomed our parents in their mighty Cajun way & made them feel like they were home.
Catch the replay of Ashley’s National Hispanic Heritage Month Special on BRProud below and make sure to join the Jewel of Havana VIP list to be up to date on the next Havana Happy Hour Virtual Arts Market and all the fun insider goodies you get for being in the club!
I'm back with the next video in our new jewelry care series on the blog... In this video, I share quick and easy ways to store your jewelry to keep it clean and tangle free. It also helps keep one piece from scratching another and protects your softer stones. Let me know in the blog comments what you think.
What you'll need for this project:
It's oxygen and moisture that speed up the tarnishing process. Metals can easily scratch one another or harm your softer stones if you just throw them in a jewelry box together. Not to mention the time we waste untangling the mess of chains in those boxes. This video goes through a simple and easy way to protect all your favorite jewelry pieces and sets you up for traveling safely with your treasures.
Today's video is all about how to clean your silver jewelry with all natural products you have at home.
What you'll need:
1. Flat bottom glass or ceramic pan with sides high enough to hold water
2. Baking soda
3. Aluminum foil
4. Hot water (almost to boiling point)
5. Rinse water
6. Soft cloth or towel for drying well
7. Your tarnished silver jewelry
Steps to clean your silver jewelry:
1. Line your glass or ceramic pan with aluminum foil
2. Place your silver jewelry on the aluminum being careful to remove all stones from your chain first. (Make sure the jewelry is touching the aluminum.)
3. Sprinkle baking soda over the jewelry
4. Pour hot water over baking soda to cover all the jewelry
5. Rock the pan gently until all the pieces are tarnish free
6. Rinse well, dry thoroughly and store in air tight container.
Remember....oxygen and moisture cause tarnish to develop more rapidly so dry your jewelry as well as possible and store in air tight containers to keep moisture and oxygen away from your jewelry when you aren't wearing it.
**Take care not to use this method with antique jewelry that has a patina you like or other jewelry with a patina finish. Patina is essentially controlled tarnish and this method will clean off your patina. In this case, use a silver polishing cloth to clean the areas you'd like to shine and keep the patina where you want it.
This is a quick and easy, all natural way to clean large amounts of silver jewelry at home so you spend more time enjoying your shiny clean jewelry for years to come.
If you like tips like these, please share this page with your friends and let me know in the comments below. Would you like to see more videos like these? Do you have questions about jewelry you'd love answered? Let me know that too so I can bring you more helpful tips in the future. Thanks for watching! xo Ana
It was a beautiful day. My toes in the white powdery sand, the sun shining, a cool breeze blowing under the shade of a huge umbrella. My parents who I hadn’t been able to hug in over 2 months were sitting to my left, my sister to the right, 3 year old niece building a sand castle at my feet and our Chief Children's Jewelry Consultant running and laughing in and out of the crashing waves just ahead. We gathered for the first time in months to celebrate her 8th birthday.
It was a perfect day and it was not lost on me how lucky we were to have safely made it to this moment when there was so much fear and suffering in the world leading up to it.
Just as I was looking around at all this beauty, feeling such gratitude, I put my headphones in and hit play on a random shuffle playlist. Up comes Louis Armstrong’s undeniable voice...
”I see leaves of green...Red roses too...I see them bloom for me and for you...and I think to myself, what a wonderful world.”
I mean... you couldn’t have dreamt a better soundtrack for the moment.
Lapis Lazuli Malachite Jewelry
I’m embarrassed to say how many years I’ve had these gemstones. They were so pretty I wanted something special for them. When we got back from our trip, I knew exactly what they were meant to be. I grabbed my sketchbook & played the song again while I worked filled with the love and gratitude from the trip with family I had missed so much during these crazy times.
Lapis lazuli is considered the stone of friendship, goodwill and harmony and malachite, the stone of wealth and abundance so I like to think that when they grow together you will have a wealth of friendship & abundance of love. They are also both calming stones and who couldn't use that right now?
The shapes & textures from this new jewelry collection capture the feelings of those precious moments on the sand, the sounds of crashing waves & children playing, the perfect song on the radio & a deep, deep gratitude for the beauty in the world around us.
May this jewelry bring you peace and calm, a wealth of friendship and an abundance of love.
"And I think to myself...what a wonderful world....."
It’s almost that time of year again, Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. Personally, I love Valentine’s Day. Bright colors, sweet treats, and acts of kindness—the day is truly about showing your love to all who deserve it.
On Valentine’s Day, I like to show my love and admiration to many people in my life, not just my actual valentine. On a day dedicated to celebrating love in general, why not spread that love to many and show you care?
All of our jewelry comes in a beautiful presentation box with a bow and a blank card for you to personalize so whether you are wanting a present for that special someone, a treasured friend, a cherished family member, or show yourself some love, check out these great gift ideas to make the day extra special and help them remember how you feel about them all year long.
Rose Quartz is the stone of unconditional love, making it a perfectly festive gift for Valentine’s Day. This necklace is one of my personal favorite gift items, it just seems to go with everything and works across all ages.
If you want to check out more items incorporating Rose Quartz, you can shop the collection here.
If you are looking for a gift that is cost-friendly, look no further. We have a ton of affordable options that will make this Valentine’s Day unforgettable. These Freshwater Pearl Coin Earrings pair well with everything, plus their color is perfect for this chocolate-filled holiday!
ANGEL WING JEWELRY
True friends can be our own personal angels—protecting us and supporting us throughout any trials we might face. Our love and thankfulness for them is immense, and Valentine's Day is the perfect time to show them how we feel.
This Double Angel Wing Necklace helps reflect that sentiment and is perfect for all the angels in your life.
PINK PEARL BRACELETS
Here is a perfect gift for the little blessings in your life. Our kids collection has a lot of great gift options that will not break the bank!
Of course, I think the Pink Freshwater Pearl Bracelet is especially fitting for Valentine’s Day, but there are many options you can choose from in the collection.
STEEL MAGNOLIAS JEWELRY
Looking for a new take on a Valentine’s Day favorite? This 3 Flower Cuff Bracelet from the Steel Magnolias Collection is sure to dazzle and stay useful way longer than any bouquet, making it a perfect V-Day gift.
The magnolia is a symbol of quiet strength and delicate beauty making this collection a favorite to exchange with friends, sisters or to treat yourself.
MIXED METAL JEWELRY
Finally, check out the entire Through the Looking Glass Collection for Valentine’s Day inspiration. This collection is all about unconditional love and seeing the world with joy and wonder and I cannot think of anything more fitting to celebrate on this holiday.
The holidays are such a busy time for me, as I am sure they are for everyone. I am just getting around to getting caught up.
In addition to the busyness, the holidays can also be a difficult time—especially when it might be the first time spending them without a loved one. (It was our first without my Father-in-law this year.)
I like to think that the holidays give us some healing power. As we sit and catch up with our family and friends, I like to use the time to keep the memory alive of those who passed and cherish those that are still with us today. I find it important to honor and remember the legacy of the ones we love, and the holidays just seem like the perfect time to do so.
When Carl Welder, who just so happens to be my husband’s cousin, approached me with an idea for a Christmas present to commemorate his late father, I could not refuse. He requested two necklaces, one for his mother and one for his sister, each inscribed with the phrase, “kisses and ice cream”. A lovely idea and an intriguing inscription—I immediately got to work in order to get the two necklaces ready for Christmas.
Now that Carl’s sister and mother have gotten their gifts, I wanted to share Carl’s wonderful story of honoring the father they all loved so much.
What was the meaning behind the phrase “kisses and ice cream”
The last year of his life, things had gone way downhill and he was basically confined to his bedroom, his living room, and his kitchen. We kept all trying to tell him that it was okay to let go, I mean he was 91 and had lived this great life—but he just kept bouncing back from a lot of different things.
Tell me about your decision to make these pieces for your family.
Well, this was the first Christmas without him this year. I knew it was going to be emotional, we were all not really looking forward to it. We chose to go ahead and be in the ancestral home where we had all celebrated before and I just wanted something very special for my sister and my mother to kind of commemorate that first Christmas without him.
I am so honored I was able to be a part of this remarkable story of love and family and help uphold the memory of someone so special.
Is there someone you want to keep close this year? If so, fill out the contact form and we can start the commission process. Additionally, if you have a story of giving Jewel of Havana jewelry this holiday season, be sure to share your story with us. xo Ana
Overcoming obstacles. Persevering through dark times. Leaning on those you love to hold you up when you are not at your best.
Life's unexpected events and themes of empowerment have often driven the creative process of the work I do at Jewel of Havana. In fact, I named the company after the strongest woman I know, my mother. My new Snow in Havana Jewelry line is a tribute to her story, and what an amazing story it is!
My mother first came to the United States from Cuba as part of Operation Peter Pan. Operation Peter Pan (or Pedro Pan) was led by Father Byran O. Walsh in response to the mounting political regime of Fidel Castro. As Castro began closing private schools, fears that the government would begin sending minors to work camps in the Soviet Union caused many Cuban parents to risk their lives and homes to get children out of the country and into Miami.
Children of all ages were sent to America alone, relying on shelters and group homes run by Catholic Charities. The operation began in 1960 but abruptly ended in 1962, following the Cuban Missile Crisis. Because of this, nearly all of the children were without their parents until the later half of the decade. Though most were eventually reunited with their parents, some never saw them again.
One of those children was my mother. She was 17 when she came to America, after working for the underground herself. I wanted to ask her a few questions about her own experience.
What was the most challenging part of being in America?
Communication was probably the greatest challenge. I had studied English in school and was able to speak the language to get by. However, understanding people that spoke fast or use idioms that I was not familiar with was very difficult. At school, it would take me a very long time to complete reading assignments and since I had to also work to sustain myself, there was not much time for sleeping.
Introducing the Snow In Havana Jewelry Collection
Inspired by the strength and courage we all have within us to weather any storm. Jewelry elegant enough to dance the night away at the Tropicana in the romantic Cuba of my mother's youth, a symbol of their adopted country and the magic of hope and new beginnings.
Last week, I released the Draped in Love Collection in Sterling Silver in celebration of 5 years cancer free. As mentioned, the pieces are dedicated to those who supported me throughout my battle with cancer and their sales will contribute to the Dodi Groves Breast Cancer Fund.
Dodi Barron Groves
Today, I wanted to take a moment to talk about Dodi. I first met Dodi in Lafayette when she walked up to my jewelry booth with her big smile and sunshine personality. She was one of those people you meet who instantly feel like a friend. She and her husband, Bryan were getting ready to take a trip to New York and we bonded over theater and which restaurants they should check out when they were there. They were both wonderful supporters of my work through the years but mostly I loved seeing them and their beautiful daughter, Ava every time I was in Lafayette.
Just after my diagnosis, we were showing at Festival International in Lafayette. I had already had two surgeries and was to start radiation after the show. Dodi and Bryan stopped by to visit and this time her usual bouncy curly hair was in a pixie cut. She looked cute as a button but it’s when I learned she was having her own battle with cancer. In true Dodi fashion, she immediately began to share with me what to expect on the next part of my treatment journey and helped take away much of my fear of the next steps. She became one of my cancer angels, letting me know what to expect and encouraging me along the way. Dodi was the very first recipient of the Draped In Love copper earrings just after I created the original design.
Dodi was born and raised in Lafayette, Louisiana. After attending the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, she began teaching at Katharine Drexel Elementary. For 20 years Dodi taught kindergarten to over 450 students, touching many lives along the way.
Dodi was such a giving person. She was known to always serve others, often paying for clothes, supplies, lunches and snacks for those in need. She also anonymously provided resources to less fortunate families throughout her community.
Dodi began her battle with cancer in 2008. Even throughout her own treatment, she was still known to reach out and help those around her. During chemotherapy and radiation, she was known by many other patients as their “chemo buddy”, always uplifting and encouraging everyone she met along the way.
What I loved most about Dodi was her joyous spirit. I looked forward to seeing her and her beautiful family at every festival or market when I was in town and we would chat like old friends. It wasn’t possible to leave Dodi’s presence in a worse mood than you started. All who knew her were familiar with her radiant joy and contagious happiness.
Dodi lost her battle in 2015, due to medical complications of breast cancer. She left behind Bryan and their daughter, Ava. I, along with everyone who knew her, continue to remember her as the kind and radiant person she truly was.
The Witches Ride
As I prepared to release the Draped in Love Collection in Sterling Silver, I thought a lot about those who helped me through my battle with cancer. Dodi immediately came to mind, and I began thinking about how I could dedicate this collection to her. Before I even reached out, Bryan contacted me, letting me know about the 2019 Dodi Groves Memorial Witches Ride for Breast Cancer. The event is a Halloween-themed bike ride and all proceeds go to the Dodi Groves Breast Cancer Fund, which works to help those in the Acadiana area with breast cancer.
I knew I had to let everyone know about this event and this amazing organization dedicated to my friend. I also wanted to make sure this new collection worked to benefit the foundation, which is why I decided to devote proceeds to the Dodi Groves Memorial Fund with every purchase from the Sterling Silver Draped in Love Collection.
I think it is impossible for me to do anything that could properly thank Dodi. Her kindness and warm-hearted nature are things I will never forget. I hope that in partnering with her foundation, I can help others like she devoted her life to and work to keep her memory alive.
I was prepared for either choice based on what he said. I knew what I wanted to do but I am not a doctor & I wanted to do what was most medically sound.
This is the last pill.
Although (odd as it sounds) cancer brought many blessings, it has also taken many friends who had reached this milestone before me.
This is the last little pill.
I called it a healing treatment to help me cope with it. It was both a daily reminder of the cancer yet a daily reminder to live life to the fullest.
It was a daily reminder of each friend who lost their battle in the years I have been taking it. It is not lost on me that the same may happen to me.
It’s a new way of life. A “new normal”. I had heard cancer survivors use that term before but I really didn’t understand until I went on the journey myself.
I have now been cancer free for 5 years. This is the last pill of my healing treatments.
I want to celebrate this moment, this journey & the blessings it brought with it. There were many not so pleasant things but I want to focus on the good I saw, the friendships made, the deepening of love between friends & family. But mostly I want to celebrate the cancer survivors who helped me along the way. They were my cancer angels here on earth. The ones I created the Draped In Love Collection for as a thank you for all they did to help as we navigated those first days. Three of them are now Heavenly Angels & with each healing treatment these last 1,825 days, I have thought of them...their strength, their courage, their selflessness, their complete joy of life & warrior attitude.
In celebration of this milestone and in honor of those angels who are no longer with us, today I am releasing the Draped In Love Collection in sterling silver. The copper pieces will continue to raise money for the Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center but these new silver pieces will contribute to the Dodi Groves Breast Cancer Fund.
I will share more about Dodi's story and this very special foundation formed in her honor next week. Today, I want to say thank you, celebrate this milestone & all those who helped us along the way. I am forever grateful and promise to keep paying it forward whenever I can. xo Ana
Named after French botanist Pierre Magnol, the magnolia is a beautiful flowering plant that many in Baton Rouge have come to love and admire. The official flower of Louisiana, magnolia trees commonly grace the streets of this city, symbolizing beauty and elegance at every turn.
That said, the plant has taken on new meaning with the emergence of the Red Magnolia Theatre Company in August 2017. What began as a group of friends with a passion for theatre quickly became an all-female theatre company, complete with innovative concepts and stunning performances.
Their first performance, Love Loss and What I Wore, debuted in October of 2018. Founders Michele Taylor Johnson and Paula Shreve wanted to do something special for their company on opening night, so they reached out to me for the perfect gift.
I was thrilled to combine my love for theatre as well as jewelry design. We worked together to make custom pieces for each co-founder, serving as a reminder of their hard work as well as their continued-commitment to bring art to our community.
I sat down with Paula and Michele to discuss the theatre company, the custom jewelry, as well as their upcoming production.
The Red Magnolia Theatre Company
Paula, tell me a little bit about how you first learned about Jewel of Havana?
I saw Jewel of Havana's booth setup at Theatre Baton Rouge many years ago. I walked over during an intermission of a show I was attending. I was drawn to the name as my mom was born and raised in Havana, Cuba. We discussed Cuba, Louisiana, and I bought my mom a necklace as a gift that day.
Why did you originally reach out for a custom piece?
Michele and I wanted to give each co-founder of Red Magnolia a unique gift at the opening night of our first production, Love Loss and What I Wore by Nora and Delia Ephron. As I already knew you and your own performance history as an actress, it was a no brainer to ask if we could work on a custom piece. Being a local, creative, female business owner also supports Red Magnolia's mission to collaborate among women in the arts.
Why did you want these items to be custom made?
The magnolia is Louisiana's state flower. It is also a symbol of stability and grace. It made sense that we find a local jeweler to create a piece of jewelry unique to Louisiana and that would represent an all-female theatre company. Jewel of Havana was the obvious choice as we all love all of the handcrafted pieces, the creations are inspired by nature, and you understand the mission of the Red Magnolia Theatre Company.
Explain the process of creating these pieces.
This creative process was really all Ana. We met and discussed a custom piece that would have a magnolia on it. We also wanted an affordable price point! After working on the original design, I came to the studio to look at the prototype. I could tell it was going to be beautiful.
What was your reaction to the finished piece?
I LOVED the finished product. The pendant was an excellent choice because you could add whatever necklace, chain or ribbon unique to you to it. All the co-founders have uniquely different personalities, so it was perfect. The pendant was a not only a perfect gift, but it signified strength as well as beauty. It was exactly what we had wanted!
The other day, I found myself shopping with my sister. As we perused the racks upon racks of the latest fall fashions, I couldn't help but notice a pattern. Well, less of a pattern and more of a single color; guacamole. A mix between a bright green and an olive color, this vibrant hue caught my eye. In fact, I felt as if every store we walked in had at least two or three items in the color, practically begging to be bought and worn.
As I returned home later that day, I just couldn't get the shade off my mind. I decided to check out Pantone for some inspiration and to see if I could find the color. For those of you who don’t know, Pantone is a company dedicated to color. They created the Pantone Color Matching System to standardize color reproduction in a variety of industries, and regularly put out predictions for upcoming color trends. I find myself heading over to the site constantly, hoping for a sneak peek at the season’s latest trends.
Pantone Classic Colors for Fall 2019
Sure enough, with one quick scroll on the site I found the exact color I had seen in so many storefronts. An added bonus? They had a whole swatch of colors that paired well with the green shade! Suddenly, I began brainstorming what gems would pair well with the color, and how I could use my jewelry to make falls newest color really pop.
I love celebrating mothers and daughters, but one of the things I love most about my job is working with men. I have so many husbands, fathers, brothers and friends selecting thoughtful gifts for the women in their lives, or even asking for my assistance in creating a custom piece all their own.
In a world where men are getting a bum rap by the ones who misbehave, I get to see the absolute best in them every day. They are thoughtful, they care and most of all, they love you big.
Take for example, my brother Hugo. Hugo is a teacher at Saint Joseph’s Academy and his wife, Stacia, is the principal. The school recently celebrated its 150th anniversary, complete with an entire season of celebratory events to commemorate Saint Joseph’s work in the lives of so many.
The 150th Anniversary Gala was the last of these events, a grand finale of sorts for the volunteers who had worked tirelessly for months, Hugo and Stacia included. Hugo decided he wanted to do something special for the people who had honored the school so well. He enlisted my help, searching for unique jewelry to gift to the volunteers and to his wife.
After some brainstorming, we decided that we would work together to make custom jewelry, incorporating the school’s shield. We ended up making a pair of cuff links, two rings, a pendant and a pair of earrings. Hugo has always been a thoughtful gift giver but this project was a really special one. I loved having him in the studio and collaborating on the designs.
I recently spoke with Hugo about the gifts and the use of jewelry for a very special thank you.
Hugo's Thoughtful Gifts
Why did you decide you wanted to gift them jewelry?
I wanted something that had a connection. I wanted to give them something special, so when they looked at it they knew that the work they had done was appreciated, and that they would remember all the good things of the process of putting on the events.
Why do you think jewelry has that sentimental value?
Jewelry is something you put on at special times and it carries a special connotation. I guess I was also thinking the gala was a black-tie affair and maybe something they could wear. Although being a guy, I neglected to think that the outfits had already been picked out and coordinated with jewelry!
What was actually creating the jewelry like?
It was eye-opening to see how much work goes into each piece. Not only in how careful you have to be to design everything but just everything in general. It was pretty impressive to learn. And fun to do!
The ring is beautiful and that equates to the appreciation of the school. It’s not something that was mass produced and I think they understood that. In fact, I had a couple of people ask where they could buy one when they saw it. I loved the idea that it was something that was thought out specifically for them. I wanted people that received it to know they are special.
Any final words to the recipients of the pieces?
Thank you! It was my pleasure and such an honor to be a part of the process. I’m humbled by the service that they gave to a place that I care so much about.
If you have a special occasion coming up or would like to create something unique for someone you love, don't hesitate to contact me. I'm happy to help make your jewelry idea a reality so the ones you love can think of you every time they wear it! xo Ana
Redesigning our art show booth has been on my list for quite some time. The booth is our home away from home for most of the spring and fall and I was ready for a fresh new look.
Thankfully, you all keep me busy in the studio and my MVP (aka Dad) has been busy too. Finding time to conceive, design and build the new booth has been challenging. Luckily we've been able to steal a bit of time this summer to conquer some projects long in need of attention.
With that, I'm so excited to announce we'll be debuting the (almost) finished display at the Baton Rouge Arts Market this Saturday. We won’t have the walls up and not everything is complete but I’d love for you to come by and let us know what you think, what could make it better for you or what you’d like to see more or less of. (We'll have some new jewelry too :)
The Mother’s Day celebration continues with a mother-daughter duo found right here in the Red Stick.
We sat down with Michele Johnson, President of Red Magnolia Theatre Company, to speak about her mother Paula Taylor, and what makes her special. It is truly heartwarming to see how highly Michele thinks of her mother. We hope you enjoy her words as much as we did.
Michele and Paula
What kind of mother is your mom?
She is very strong. She was a single mom before she married my dad when I was eleven. So it was just me and her for a really long time.
It’s that time of year again! Mother’s Day is quickly approaching. A time to cherish our own mothers and spend time with family, Mother’s Day is the perfect holiday for reflection and gratitude.
Tom and Sheila and Their Sweet Granddaughters
As we gear up to celebrate the mothers in our own lives, I cannot help but think back to a special moment Jewel of Havana was able to take part in a few months ago. After Tom gifted his wife Shelia with one our Leaf Bell Necklaces, their two granddaughters, Finley and Emory, could not get enough of the necklace. Every time they saw their grandmother, they would inquire about the necklace, examining and admiring it.
So, for Christmas this past year, they gave the girls a special gift—two custom-made Leaf Bell Necklaces that were a bit smaller to fit them. We have a video of their reactions here. Isn’t that just the cutest?!
We spoke with Tom about his wife’s love for their granddaughters and with the girls about how much they love their grandmother, "Shoo Shoo".
Girls, what it was like opening the Christmas present from Buddy and Shoo Shoo?
Finley: Exciting because we had the same necklace as our grandmother.
What is special about your Shoo Shoo?
Emory: She is our grandma and we love her so much.
Tom, can you tell me a little bit about giving your wife the necklace?
Tom: Well, I'm not the best person on planet Earth with figuring out what to get for my wife, so she usually gives me hints. But I knew Shelia admired the jewelry, so it just gave me a jackpot way to get her gifts that she would really like. This particular piece was something that she really admired, and I knew she would like it and want to wear it.
Ana Maria Andricain
Ana is a metal clay certified artist creating handcrafted nature inspired artisan jewelry from her Baton Rouge studio. If you love natural gemstones and metal, welcome home!