by Ashley Lodato
Czech glass beads
small batch handmade Tibetan beads
When nothing but fiery red will do
by Ashley Lodato
Black Friday has come and gone, and instead of hitting the mall you chose to spend the day out hiking with friends, cutting a Christmas tree, or simply sitting around a fire working on a jigsaw puzzle and eating leftover turkey. Whatever the reason, you skipped the Christmas shopping frenzy, knowing you still had plenty of time to select thoughtful gifts for those on your list.
Still, it feels great to have a few items checked off your list well in advance. Stocking stuffers, hostess gifts, and tiny treasures for besties: these are all presents you can shop ahead for, and get a jump start on Christmas before the last-minute rush.
Let's start with stocking stuffers, because they're so darn much fun. Whether you're filling stockings for a young daughter, a beloved niece, wife, sister, or mother, Bronwen Jewelry has the perfect pieces of handcrafted artisan jewelry to fit your aesthetic and your budget. Tiny Charm Necklaces from our Petite B line are always a hit with the little people (and the women in their lives adore the adult version of these sweet, lightweight, water-friendly necklaces). Your teen will love our edgy and modern ear jackets, while your own mother will feel youthful, beautiful, and trendy in one of the artisan bracelets from our Active Line.
"I'd rather receive a poinsettia plant than a gorgeous artisan Ribbon Wrap Bracelet," said no hostess ever. Order up a handful of these sumptuous silk and silver or pewter beauties, and you'll be the most popular guest on everyone's Christmas party list. Or if you're lucky enough to be spending the holidays somewhere tropical, bring your hostess one of our popular Swim Wrap Bracelets: colorful, sparkly, and swim-ready.
TREASURE YOUR TREASURES
Your best friends are true gems: rare, precious, and unique. Honor your friendships with handcrafted jewelry that celebrates the vibrancy and beauty your besties bring to your life. Whether your girlfriends are the statement necklace type or prefer the understated aesthetic, there's a piece of artisan jewelry at Bronwen Jewelry to complement their style.
Holiday purchasing can bog down even the most stalwart of shoppers but with Bronwen Jewelry it can be downright fun. And if you're on the other side of the counter for holiday retail sales, don't hesitate to ask about our artisan jewelry wholesale program. We love our boutique and gift shop partners, and our loyal wholesalers report that their customers love our products! All of our products are protected by our signature repair/replace warranty, making Brownen Jewelry the gift that really can last a lifetime.
Holiday shopping can be hectic and stressful. Let Bronwen Jewelry help make it just a tiny bit easier--and brighter--for you.
by Ashley Lodato
As the leaves drift down and darken, the nights lengthen, and the sun's warm glow loses its intensity, we instinctively turn to other sources of light and color in our lives. We light fires, burn candles, wear vibrant scarves. We decorate our homes with wreaths and dried berries, hang garlands, and bake cookies. Where the outside world gives us browns, greys, and whites, we find ways to create sparkle and shine.
At Bronwen Jewelry, we share your craving for bright spots in a season of muted tones. We relish winter's cozy embrace, but we long for more light. Which is why we're so attracted to the warm hues and sparkling gleam of the materials in our studio, which we combine to provide you with the perfect seasonal ensembles. Our collections of handmade artisan jewelry fairly sourced from materials created around the world are vibrant and versatile, dressing you up or down according to your needs.
Whether you're looking to complement the colors of nature's dormant season or add color to your wardrobe when the world outside has grown subdued, we've got something for you.
Color Me Autumn
If late autumn leaves picked themselves up off the ground and transformed themselves into glass beads, our Harmony Wrap Bracelet - Smoky Topaz would be the result. Sultry shades of brown and mocha stack with with mixed metals sterling silver and gold vermeil, harmonizing with nature's carpet under the trees.
When dusk turns to inky black and a cuticle of moon rises over the quiet landscape, Bronwen's Night Sky Necklace helps you celebrate the velvety darkness that serves as a backdrop to lunar light. This water-friendly adjustable necklace from our Active Line is lightweight and sturdy enough to wear through all your activities and complements everything from yoga wear to a business suit (do women still wear business suits?).
The harvest moon is undeniably beautiful, but you'll eclipse it in your Cascade Drop Earrings Moonstone. Laser-cut geometric chain in a chevron shape is modern and edgy without being trendy, and the gorgeous bezel-set moonstone adds a weighty elegance in a feather-light format. Of all things celestial, this is our favorite.
Fire it Up
Oh baby, it's cold outside, but the colors you wear are smokin' hot. You might not be able to shoot sparks from the ends of your fingertips (but please let us know if you can!) but your wrists can be on fire with our popular Ribbon Wrap Bracelets. For those seeking a fiery adornment, may we recommend a ribbon wrap in Bella Donna or Fire and Smoke? The hardest part of choosing a ribbon wrap will be settling on just one, but take heart--plenty of women before you have chosen to simply stack two or three complementary wraps, setting their wrists ablaze (aesthetically speaking, of course!). Wrap bracelets pair beautifully with any of our Glasswrap line as well, so don't hesitate to set your own style on fire with fun and funky combinations.
Hindus believe that rubies contain an inner fire, and we at Bronwen Jewelry tend to agree; there's a reason that the Sanskrit word for "ruby" means "King of Gemstones." Two unique Bronwen pieces give you rubies that reflect your inner fire while adorning your neck with the warm glow of this precious gem: our Ruby Trail Necklace and the Ruby Isis Necklace. Either of these lightweight lovelies featuring faceted ruby nuggets and 24k gold vermeil spacers will light your fire.
by Ashley Lodato
When the autumn air turns crisp and the birds begin their journey south, shops in multi-cultural cities throughout the world begin to fill with calaveras (sugar skulls), pan de muerto (sweet egg bread), cempasúchiles (marigolds), and altares (altars), as people of Mexican heritage prepare for Dia de Muertos.
Commonly misunderstood as simply the Mexican version of Halloween, Dia de Muertos is a Mexican holiday celebrated throughout the country (and by Mexican people living elsewhere). Focusing on family gatherings, the multi-day holiday allows friends and relatives to pray for and remember those who have died, and to help them along on their spiritual journey.
Mexico gave us chocolate, popcorn, chewing gum, oral contraceptives, and tequila, but in the humble opinion of those of us at Bronwen Jewelry, by far the best thing Mexico has contributed to society is its daring use of color, as evidenced not only by Dia de Muertos decorations and celebrations, but also by the country's artisans' application of vibrant hues throughout their work.
On Dia de Muertos the streets are a riot of color: golden marigolds honoring the dead clustered in bouquets, garlands, and wreaths; bright fabric underlaying altars featuring offerings of glossy fruit, vivid paper adornments, and ornate dolls; costumes and face paint and flags.
Bronwen's Aurelia Beaded Post Earrings capture some of this color: blistering orange, fiery red, sumptuous purple, sparkly gold, brilliant aquamarine. Made with love in a traditional form by an established Fair Trade artisan in Jalisco, Mexico, these post earrings are eye-catchingly unique but light and simple enough for everyday wear, contrasting harmoniously with everything from cowl neck sweaters to little black dresses. Our Aurelia Beaded Rings add zip to neutral ensembles and bring out colors you didn't know were there, as well as complementing the post earrings with the same name. These handcrafted pieces of artisan jewelry fit Bronwen's aesthetic as well as our business practices.
While not as vivid as our Aurelia line, our Huichol jewelry adds its own elegance, sparkle, and warmth through tones of silver, gold, black, and satin. Our partnership with Huichol Love, a line of exquisite beaded jewelry made by Huichol artisans in the Sierra Madre mountains of Mexico and finished with sterling silver and gold elements in Sayulita, Mexico and Austin, Texas, allows us to offer beaded cuffs and earrings that are a combination of colorful ethnic intensity and shimmering clean glamour. The Huichol Pulso bracelet is slim or wide according to your preference, and is so darn attractive you probably won't be able to take your eyes off your own glimmering wrist.
When Bronwen's travels take us to Mexican neighborhoods that inspire us through their vibrancy, we design jewelry inspired by them, such as our Condesa line of wrap bracelets, cuffs, and necklaces. Our water-friendly Condesa Double Wrap Bracelets from our unique Active Line feature Czech glass beads complemented by shimmering metals; our elegant Condesa Cuff Bracelets are a striking blend of modern and traditional ethnic charm, and our Condesa Disc Necklace is colorful, hip, and sophisticated. To really knock people out, slip on a striking Condesa Tassel Necklace.
Whether you honor Dia de Muertos from a cultural perspective or you just love the use of vibrant bursts of color employed in this traditional holiday, you can surely appreciate the trickle-down effect of the holiday's aesthetics on Bronwen Jewelry. At Bronwen Jewelry, we bring the world's colors to you.
By Ashley Lodato
The first time she tied into a rope and started up a rock face, says Nikki Smith, “I knew it was what I wanted to do. Nothing else existed when I was there—just the rock, holds, and [the people] with me.”
On rock and ice, Nikki is grace and power, strength and strategy. Her expression is relaxed, even carefree, working her way up rock faces and frozen waterfalls that at best look daunting to the average climber—and downright death-defying to those of us whose best days on the sharp end are behind us.
But Nikki is not the average climber. She’s a woman who has leveraged her appetite for the climbing life into a career that promotes and celebrates the sport that brings her so much joy. Few of us find a passion at 16 that we manage to turn into both a profession and a lifestyle, but Nikki has done just that, through creative expression, athleticism, innovation, diligence, and determination.
As the owner of Pull Photography, Pull Designs, and Pull Publishing, Nikki integrates her enthusiasm for climbing, her visual aesthetic, her instinctive entrepreneurialism, and her empathetic gaze into the human condition. She works with her hands, her eyes, and her intuition. To some degree, Nikki’s approach to her business ventures seems to mirror her approach to climbing. “Like books and art,” she says, “[climbing] requires a focus that quiets everything else. I…solve a new problem with every climb. Some I can unlock easily in a single try, some take years to unlock the intricacies.”
Nikki was introduced to photography as a child, when her amateur photographer father gave her a camera. A few of her photos won blue ribbons at the Utah State Fair—“pretty cool for a 5-year-old,” she says. But it wasn’t until Nikki learned to use a darkroom in high school that she really started to love the art form. “Being involved in the entire process brought more creativity and freedom,” she says.
In college, Nikki pulled tendons in 2 fingers on a boulder problem and couldn’t climb for a while. Photographing her friends climbing enabled her to remain an active part of the climbing scene while she was injured. Eventually, Nikki worked with a few established photographers in the Salt Lake City area and “begged them to critique [her] work.” As she started to improve, she slowly began to get photographs published. Now, her work is seen in outdoor publications all over the world, as well as in commercial applications. Her breathtaking photos of the people, places, and wildlife across the globe capture the grandeur of this amazing planet and, she says, encourage people to “dream big.”
Her name, however, is not exactly a household one; Nikki semi-jokingly refers to herself as “the most published climbing photographer nobody has ever heard of.” Still, although it’s Nikki’s climbing and landscape photographs that tend to show up in magazines and ad campaigns, it’s her portraits that bring her the most satisfaction. Trying to summarize a person in one photo, says Nikki, or showing who they are to others, “is my most important work.” She continues, “I didn’t fully realize how important this can be until I lost friends in the mountains and my portraits and action shots were used by friends and family to memorialize them.”
Nikki’s background as a climber allowed her to segue naturally into guiding, which she did while in college, with Utah Mountain Adventures. She also instructed and was in charge of route-setting at Rockreation, a Salt Lake City climbing gym. It was when she began working for climbing and outdoor gear distributor Liberty Mountain, however, that Nikki was able to use her full range of artistic talents—skills she cultivated as a youngster. “In my early years I used to draw and paint a lot,” she says. “I sewed, quilted, and knitted with my mom.” Nikki’s father was into “mountain manning,” she says, so the family spent many weekends attending mountain man rendezvous events all over the west, dressed in period costumes and selling homemade crafts. “We kids made beeswax candles, games, and jewelry,” she says of her early forays into creating products for retail sales.
At Liberty Mountain, Nikki was initially in charge of the climbing program, and then ran both the sponsorship program and the marketing department, creating illustrations, layout, and designs for catalogs and advertisements. During her time at Liberty Mountain, Nikki also started the Cypher brand and designed climbing shoes. All that sewing with mom came in handy.
Nikki Smith is a climber, photographer, designer, and author. Who has the energy for anything more? Apparently, Nikki Smith. She’s a sponsored athlete, representing big-name companies like Beal Ropes, Grivel, and Cypher, among others. She’s an author, having written feature articles in climbing magazines and five guidebooks to climbing in Utah, with more on the way. She’s a prodigy of first ascents, with more than 200 roped first ascents in Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, and Mongolia and another 200 bouldering first ascents. She’s a climbing access advocate and was a part of the group that founded the Salt Lake Climbers Alliance. She’s an Army veteran, decorated with various medals in the mid-1990s.
Nikki is also an Eagle Scout.
Wait, what—an Eagle Scout? Isn’t that just for boys?
Right. At least, that’s the way it’s been for the past century (in 2019 girls will be eligible to earn Eagle Scout distinction for the first time in Scouting history). But back in the day when Nikki earned her Eagle Scout badge, she was living with the public identity associated with the gender she was assigned in the womb.
Born genetically male and raised with the societal expectations that accompany that identity, Nikki says she always felt she was playing the character of a male in order to survive. “My mind and heart is and was always female,” she says, but “society didn’t see me or allow me to be viewed that way. I’ve always been [female], but for most of my life, I wasn’t able to express that. I wasn’t able to show it outwardly.”
Climbing and being outside provided a bit of a sanctuary for Nikki, who struggled to reconcile her public identity and her authentic self. “The outdoors and climbing were some of the few places I’ve ever felt I belonged,” she says.
Recently, Nikki has mustered up some of the grit and determination that have taken her so far professionally and channeled them into personal fulfillment. She changed her name and gender marker, underwent surgeries, bought some new clothes, and is finally living in public as her true self—the woman she has always been in mind, heart, and soul. “I’m dropping everything I used to pretend to be a man,” she says. “Transitioning,” she says, is not (as many of us assume) transitioning from being a man to being a woman or vice versa. It’s transitioning out of pretending to be one way and instead embracing being true to oneself, one’s nature. Nikki didn’t transition into being a woman—she transitioned into living outwardly as the woman she always has been.
The processing of coming out has been freeing, but is not without its challenges. “While most of my life and how people treat me is great,” Nikki says, “I am stared at, laughed at, pointed at, and whispered about daily. It can take a toll.”
But far more painful was the toll of living as someone she was not. As Nikki grew older, the issues she internalized about her gender identity led her to depression and, eventually, suicidal thoughts, even plans. In an extraordinarily serendipitous internet browsing session, however, author Brené Brown’s quoted encouragement to “show up and be seen” inspired Nikki to go out in public as her true self, so she went to a Las Vegas dance club and enjoyed 4 hours of “indescribable…freedom and joy. I was able to exist as the real me.” She knew then that she had to “get over my fear of what people would think of me. I just had to let go and begin the hard work. So I did.”
“Time is growing short,” Brown’s quotation notes, “There are unexplored adventures ahead of you. You can’t live the rest of your life worried about what other people think. You were born worthy of love and belonging. Courage and daring are coursing through you. You were made to live and love with your whole heart. It’s time to show up and be seen.” Brown’s words spoke to Nikki “in a way nothing else ever had. I decided then and there to put off my [suicide] plans and try something different. Deep inside I had always known what was wrong but was too afraid to face it.”
Shortly after, Nikki began therapy. Since then, she says, “I’ve let go of so much hurt, self-hatred, and negativity. The last six months have been some of the happiest of my life. I can finally look in the mirror and not hate the reflection I see staring back.”
When Nikki looks in the mirror now, she sees the woman she has always been inside: stylish clothing, tasteful makeup, killer jewelry. Oh yes, jewelry. Because as a global ambassador for Bronwen Jewelry, Nikki wears some of her favorite pieces both on and off the rock, like her Beaded Fisherman’s Necklace and her Glasswrap Bracelet.
Nikki and Bronwen met at the Outdoor Retailer trade show, when a mutual friend brought Nikki to the Bronwen booth for some accessorizing. When Nikki requested special sizing on a few pieces, Bronwen’s team was delighted to oblige, building a custom assortment for Nikki. “We make jewelry because it brings joy to women,” founder Bronwen Lodato says, “and if we can be a part of helping a woman feel powerfully feminine, beautiful, sexy, and truly happy in her own skin, then we’ve succeeded in our mission.”
Nikki’s other go-to Bronwen pieces are her Amazon Woman Earrings (“pretty fitting for an Amazon like me,” she laughs) and her Open Gold Circle Beaded Fishermans Necklace. Like the rest of Bronwen Jewelry’s active line necklaces and bracelets, all of Nikki’s favorite Bronwen pieces integrate seamlessly not only with her aesthetic style, but with her lifestyle. “Even when working out I can still connect with the glamorous side of myself,” Nikki says. “It’s beautiful [and] I can wear it climbing, trail running, biking, and camping.”
Nikki’s history with jewelry is a bit complicated. Growing up, she loved making jewelry. “I could never wear it, though,” she says. “It was always for sale or gifts and only for my sisters and mom to wear. Jewelry was not allowed in my young life, and that carried on long afterward. I didn’t wear rings, watches, necklaces until I fully embraced who I am.”
Now, Nikki says, jewelry “is just a part of me. It allows me to express myself beyond clothing.” It’s more than just an expression of style, however; jewelry is part of Nikki’s growing confidence in her identity. “While it might not always be,” she says, “right now jewelry, makeup, clothing, and my sense of style are tied together and act as a type of armor. I feel strong and can face the world and those who don’t believe I should be a part of it when I am styled the way I want. I’m not doing it for others—it’s to help me feel beautiful and strong. When I feel that way, anything is possible.”
This sense of possibility, of confidence, is a welcome feeling for someone who has always felt that she “saw the world a little differently than others” and that she was always playing a character that others expected to see. Nikki’s early years were characterized by a juxtaposition of uncertainty and sheer normalcy. Her father’s work as a cartographer for the US Forest Service led the family from Moab, Utah, to the Wasatch Front, where Nikki was raised. Family activities were wholesome outdoor adventures— fossil and mineral collecting, led by her father, whose background was in geology and archeology.
Nikki’s family was Mormon, and the church provided many necessities before her father died of leukemia when Nikki was 14, after many years of illness. “The church and the congregation provided Christmases,” she says. “And food and clothing when I was younger.”
As a child, Nikki loved art and drew all the time. Although she didn’t pursue writing at the same time she dove into visual arts like drawing and painting, in recent years, it has become an important component of Nikki’s self-expression. Books written by others, however, were prominent features in Nikki’s young life. “Books and the library were a refuge from the confusion of my life. They were a window into other worlds.”
When Nikki thinks back on herself as a child, she wishes she could tell that younger self “I’m sorry I doubted you for so long. I hid and hated you. I thought I was protecting you, but I was wrong. Never again. It will all turn out ok. Your friends will embrace you. You will be loved not only by your wife, family, and friends but in time, by yourself. Someday you will look in the mirror and love who you see. You are strong and smart and beautiful. You will travel the world and make a living off your art. Don’t listen to those who tell you that you can’t accomplish what you want, that you can’t be yourself. Don’t listen to those who mock you and hurt you. They are in pain themselves.”
Although Nikki hasn’t shed the sting of struggling with her identity as a child, she is directing the memory of that confusion into helping others in similar situations by speaking up, by showing up and being seen. “I’m not ashamed that I am transgender and will do what I can to speak out on issues that affect the trans and queer community,” she says.
Nikki is unapologetically transgender, but refuses to let that single label define her; it’s just one aspect of who she is, the way it is with any other trans- or cisgender person. When she’s not climbing rock or ice, Nikki stays in shape by running 50-mile ultramarathons and competing in 200+-mile road bike events. Plus, she gardens, cooks, bakes, and creates cocktails, apparently in her “spare” time. (Sorry, folks, she’s already married.)
And whether it’s on the rock face, behind the camera lens, at the publishing desk, in the design studio, or on the dance floor at the nightclub, Nikki Smith is all in, showing up and being seen.
Some helpful and interesting links for those seeking to learn more about transgender people.
by Ashley Lodato
You went to school to learn, girl, things you never, never knew before
Like "i" before "e" except after "c," and why 2 plus 2 makes 4...y
Let's face it: no one could make going back to school as appealing as young Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5, circa 1970. But let the gals at Bronwen Jewelry give it a shot--we'll show you what it's all about.
In elementary school, you're all about singing it out, loud and proud. You mix colors and fabrics and patterns like a boss. Floral with stripes? Bring it on. Denim with tulle? Don't mind if I do.
In elementary school, going back into the classroom is no reason to abandon the dress-up ethic you embrace at home. You want to sparkle and shine, and Bronwen's line of children's jewelry can help you do just that, easy as 1, 2, 3. All our artisan children's jewelry is handcrafted with the same care and the same materials we use in our adult collections. We know you appreciate quality as much for your kids as you do for yourself.
There's nary a little girl on the planet who won't find something she loves in our Tiny Charm collection of necklaces and Earrings. Would she like a little fairy hanging around her neck? Or what about a magic wand? Or a monkey? Whether she fancies the fanciful mermaid charm or she favors the elegant feather, our Tiny Charms will reflect her tastes. And with Tiny Charm earrings to complement or contrast, she can sport a complete set of these sweet, lightweight, water-friendly charms. Some call it surf jewelry, some call it sports jewelry; we call it active jewelry and your little girl can wear it wherever she goes.
Some days (oh, let's face it--EVERY day) your elementary school girl wants to shimmer with every color of the rainbow. These are days for our Aurelia Beaded Post Earrings. Handmade with love in a traditional form by an established Fair Trade artisan in Mexico, these intricate and bright beaded earrings are the perfect pop-out post around.
Your little girl's bohemian outfit simply cries out for one of our Ribbon Wrap Bracelets. Sized perfectly for her tiny wrist, our Petite B ribbon wrap features a hand-dyed natural silk ribbon and an adorable pewter heart clasp. And if your girl forever has paint or mud up to her elbows, skip the ribbon wrap and opt instead for one of our Swim Wrap Bracelets, which are made from repurposed swimsuit material and fare better in the water than the silk ribbons. Our handmade bracelet wraps are among our most popular items for all ages.
The Jackson 5 told us that reading, writing, and arithmetic are the branches of the learning tree, but they left out one critical element: accessorizing. Never fear--your middle school girl won't let you forget that one. By middle school, your little girl has reined in her aesthetic a bit, but she hasn't lost that passion for jewelry that reflects who she is.
Tiny Charm Necklaces and Earrings remain just as popular with this crowd as they are with the little people, but your middle school girl may be ready for less whimsical and more realistic charms, like the Tiny Charm Lotus Earrings or our popular 3 Petal or the Lucky You Horseshoe necklaces.
Your girl who spent her summer in the backcountry can carry a little bit of the wilderness with her in her Mountain Tiny Charm Earrings, and memories of a sunny summer vacation can be held in her Sunburst Necklace.
Your middle school girl is experimenting with her style, figuring out how what she wears says about who she is. She may explore her edgy side a bit, with our Prayer Flag Necklace or Ronja Post Earrings, or possibly even becoming a trendsetter at her school with a pair of ear jackets, cultivating a bit of intrigue to her persona.
Back in the day, middle school girls used to stack their wrists with embroidery thread friendship bracelets or cheap bangles. These days, their tastes reflect a more refined aesthetic. Still, there's hardly a middle school around who isn't attracted to the idea of a wrist full of bracelets. Whether your girl prefers the sumptuous Ribbon Wrap Bracelets, the beaded Waterweave Bracelets, or the hardy Swim Wrap Bracelets--or all three!--she'll find beautiful ways to express her style through her choice of wrist adornment.
By high school, your girl is ready to show YOU what it's all about, so take a seat. High school is about expressing one's identity, presenting bold choices, and making one's mark. Get your girl over here and we'll help style her in a way that reflects her personality.
Nothing confirms your place in the high school style manual like the first-day-of-school display of a Braided Santo Necklace, backed up by our simple but dramatic Catania Earrings. You go, girl.
For everyday wear, Glasswrap Bracelets and Ribbon Wrap Bracelets complement any outfit, from jeans to a prom dress, while our Pyrite Trail Necklace can be layered with just about any other piece in your jewelry box, and left on for days or weeks.
We can't guarantee results, but we're pretty sure our Amazon Woman Earrings infuse the wearer with a sense of courage and strength, which could come in handy when taking a test or doing a presentation. Special occasions call for statement jewelry, and our Cascade Earrings and Cascade Necklace are sure to attract all the right kind of attention while making you feel brave and beautiful.
You might not be allowed to wear jewelry while playing sports, but nothing says you can't accessorize for game day before hitting the locker room. Our Beaded Fisherman's Necklace is both dramatic and simple, crafted to be sturdy and featuring faceted Czech glass beads and spacers strung on delicate-looking but super strong cord. And our vibrant Condesa Bracelet on your wrist just serves to remind you that you are just as colorful, dynamic, and unique as the Mexico City neighborhood this bracelet is named after.
Whether you've got the back-to-school blues or you've been waiting for this day ever since school let out last June, the gals at Bronwen Jewelry know how you feel. And we're here to help you find your inner shine, all year long. So listen to us baby, that's all you got to do. With Bronwen Jewelry, back-to-school style is as simple as do-re-mi.
by Ashley Lodato
A 1972 photo of Earth taken by NASA's Apollo 17 spacecraft was later called "Blue Marble," and went on to become one of the most reproduced images in history. This glittering blue marble, our gem of a planet, swirls of white and green and grey and blue sparkling in the reflected light of the sun--it hangs like a tiny jewel in a vast universe. And on its surface lies a treasure trove of precious and semi-precious gems that Bronwen Jewelry brings to you in the form of handmade jewelry.
At Bronwen Jewelry, we embrace the beauty the earth has to offer, and use its places, colors, and textures to inspire our artisan jewelry designs. And we also use its jewels, sourcing our gemstones from around the world. Shall we take you on a tour?
Jaipur, India, is the gem capital of India, and has for 300 years attracted those who seek to have the world's finest gems cut, polished, and mounted. In the 17th century, the ruling Maharaja brought artisans from around India to craft jewelry, sword hilts, and, allegedly, jeweled ankle bracelets for elephants. Jaipur's craftsmen soon gained distinction as they honed their craft, particularly for cutting brittle stones like emeralds.
Sadly, Bronwen Jewelry has no demand for bejeweled ankle bracelets for elephants (but should you have a need, please don't hesitate to ask us for a custom design), but we do happen to have some lovely anklets sized for humans that would make any bling-loving elephant envious. We also offer the jewels of India in the form of our Preciosa Necklace, which features tiny faceted rounds of natural ruby punctuated by gold or silver spacers and a sweet charm, and our Athena Necklace, which pairs Indian sodalite with gold or silver faceted beads and a unique pendant.
Just to the south, the tiny country of Sri Lanka has a long tradition of sustainable practice gemstone mining, completed by hand in small pits. Compared with large-scale open pit mining, these artisanal mines provide more stable employment for miners as well as conferring far less damage on the environment. While large scale mines result in open, abandoned pits, in Sri Lanka the tiny pits are almost always filled in and revegetated, or the landowners face fines for neglecting to rehabilitate the mine.
Rich secondary deposits--gravel--in Sri Lanka yield an astonishing array of sapphire, ruby, garnet, tourmaline, topaz, and other gemstones. The island's geologic conditions create a perfect blend of chemistry, heat, and pressure that foster the growth of gem crystals. And this makes us oh-so happy, because we just can't resist the gems that form and weather in the Sri Lankan soil and water.
Farther east, Thai Hill Tribes are busy smithing silver bangles, beads, charms, and pendants as they have for nearly a millennium. The work of these skilled craftspeople is revered worldwide, as their silver pieces are distinctively stylish, with smooth, textured, carved, and hammered finishes. Take our Tiny Charm Moonbeam Necklace, for example. In this simple pendant you see the stamp of the artisan hand and the care with which the Hill Tribe people treat their art. You can witness this same level of attention to detail in our Tiny Charm Thai Smile, our Tiny Charm Flower Heart, and our Tiny Charm Thai Fish.
You want to hit the waves after the office? Go right ahead--this jewelry was made for surfing. No tarnish, no tangle. All of our Hill Tribe silver pieces are sweat, swim, shower, and sand-friendly, accompanying you from the gym to work, to the riverbank, and to cocktails afterwards.
From the European continent comes the earth's gift of Czech glass beads, which are used in so many of our bracelet wraps that we've almost lost track! Our Condesa Bracelets, for example, are saturated with the rich color of the Czech glass beads and accented by shiny silver or gold spacers. The look and feel of our Glasswrap Bracelets--which also feature Czech glass-- is so irresistible that once you fasten one on, you'll find yourself hard-pressed to take it off again. The same is true for our Waterweave Bracelets, the lower-profile little sister of the Glasswrap. Same Czech glass beads, same water-friendly design, but at a lower price.
From the Americas come beauties like our Dreamcatcher Necklace, which highlights natural green turquoise from Arizona and a playful gold or silver 2-tier charm, and the Sea Drift Necklace, in which the contrasting blues, browns, whites and blacks of gorgeous Rainbow Amazonite provide a captivating visual intrigue. The Sea Drift Necklace is as dreamy as its name.
Would you like to experience the glittering treasures of the Blue Marble? Let Bronwen Jewelry take you there.
by Ashley Lodato
When Bronwen Lodato of Bronwen Jewelry was instructing backpacking courses in Central Oregon for Outward Bound in the late 1990s, she longed for some jewelry that would withstand the rigors of extended stints in the field. Jewelry that would retain its shine and polish even after two or three weeks of exposure to sun, sweat, dirt, and water. In her early 20s Bronwen had enjoyed a brief macrame-and-shell necklace crafting phase, but this time she had her eye set on something more refined--jewelry that was delicate and sexy, yet sturdy and resilient.
Bronwen couldn't find what she was looking for--so she made it! And 12 years later she debuted Bronwen Jewelry at the Outdoor Retailer trade show (OR) in 2008, as the pioneer of the active jewelry category.
For the past 11 years Bronwen and the crew of Bronwen Jewelry have set up a booth at OR's Summer Market, introducing the Bronwen brand to new customers and showing existing Bronwen aficionados the latest lines of outdoor jewelry, leather cuffs, active bracelets, swim wraps, ear jackets, and other handcrafted artisan jewelry that is as at home in the backcountry as it is on the dance floor.
At OR we see old friends and make new ones. We look at outdoor gear and dream about expeditions we want to take, or reminisce about trips we've had in the past. OR is a chance to share our love of outdoor activities and showcase our contribution to the industry: artisan jewelry that celebrates the places and activities that make us feel alive.
It used to be that when a woman packed for a trip to the mountains, the river, or the crags she left her jewelry at home. But with Bronwen Jewelry, women can now bring their favorite pieces outside with them. Outdoorsy gals may get their hands and shirts dirty when they're playing hard in wild places, but their Bronwen Jewelry won't lose its shine. Not all of our pieces are swim/sweat/shower friendly--such as some of our artisanal statement necklaces or global market items--but most of them are. So you can simply clip on your favorite piece and wear it until you're ready for a new look.
Whether our lines of jewelry handmade in the USA are water-friendly or not, they're all protected by our signature repair/replace warranty. Because at Bronwen Jewelry, we stand behind the quality of our products as firmly as we stand behind the belief that women should play hard in the backcountry without worrying about their jewelry.
Get outside, live big, don't hold back--Bronwen Jewelry has you covered.
by Ashley Lodato
Summer's here, you're hustling from place to place, trying to do it all, see it all, be it all and then every once in a while you realize you've been so busy you've been living in the future, not the present. So you stop for a minute, breathe, and remind yourself to be fully present in the here and now. This is your Zen moment.
Zen Buddhism and its very essence defy succinct description. Zen Buddhism is a practice that must be experienced to be understood, not a concept that can be intellectualized or understood in conventional ways. Some say that we cannot intellectually grasp Zen due to the limitations of human intelligence and wisdom; others refer to Zen as a spiritual awakening.
Zen is a school of Mahayana Buddhism that originated in China during the Tang Dynasty, during the 7th and 8th centuries A.D. Meditation is central to Zen philosophy, and indeed, the very name Zen is a derivation of the Sanskrit word dhyāna, which means "absorption" or "meditative state." Indeed, one evolution of Zen Buddhism is the more general practice of calm attentiveness and introspection guided by intuition instead of directed effort--a total focus that emphasizes the unity of mind and body.
We at Bronwen Jewelry don't profess to be Zen masters, but we fully embrace the tranquility and focus behind Zen philosophy. And although we've designed our jewelry to withstand the rigors of gals on the go, we also honor these same women's needs to slow the pace, examine the self, and seek a calming mindset. So if you're looking for Zen-inspired jewelry to complement your practice or remind you to observe life more fully, our Zen style can be found in any number of our pieces of outdoor and artisan handcrafted jewelry.
The seven chakras are the centers in our bodies in which energy flows through. Each of the seven centers possesses its own color and vibrational frequency; these chakras govern various emotional issues, from our survival instincts and self-esteem to our ability to communicate and experience love. Our beautiful chakra collection is made of sterling silver (Fair Trade cast in Thailand), double-sided with one side etched with the chakra symbol and the other side with the corresponding chakra in Sanskrit.
Our sterling silver Possibilities pendant depicts a lotus rising from the mud to become more powerful and beautiful. On you, it will be a reminder of your own strength and potential, and of life's infinite possibilities.
Living in abundance is a mindset that involves viewing life through a lens of optimism and gratitude. The five principles of abundance in Zen let us live our lives more fully, with hands and hearts open. Our beautiful sterling silver Abundance pendant is all palms open ready to accept and receive.
Our Solstice Anklet honors the Earth's path around the sun and the way the sun seems to hang weightless in the sky at the zenith during the summer and winter solstices. These appearances of the pause in orbit remind us to pause, breathe, and surrender to life's beautiful journey.
The Hamsa hand symbolizes the interconnection of the chakras, the body's energy flow, and the five senses. It has also been thought to ward off "the evil eye." The jury is still out on whether our sweet Tiny Charm Hamsa Hand can ward off the evil eye, but it will certainly attract some glances of envy! Sleek and lightweight, yet deceptively durable, this little necklace--like all of our Tiny Charm Necklaces--is so easy to wear you'll find you leave it on for weeks at a time.
Once you're on a roll with Tiny Charm jewelry, it's hard to stop! An excellent mantra for Zen meditation, Om Shanti Shanti Shanti combines the Sanskrit words "om," which is a cosmic vibration, and "shanti," the word for peace, calm, or bliss. And after putting on your Om Shanti Tiny Charm necklace, you'll be pretty blissed out. Wear this delicate pendant to symbolize your hope for individual, collective, and universal peace.
A mala is a strand of beads used in meditation, so we incorporated the most beautiful and unique handmade Tibetan beads in a precise 108 mala count punctuated by a patina Buddha pendant. Small batch handmade beads ensure that your Mala Necklace is unique and thoughtfully constructed, like the rest of Bronwen's handcrafted artisan jewelry.
Something about our Sunburst Necklace just puts you in the frame of mind for a restorative meditation or yoga practice. A perfect combination of sophistication and practicality, this detailed pendant necklace is beautiful and interesting in shape. Not only does it hold up to vigorous flow yoga, but it's happy to get wet in the river, ocean, or shower as well.
If there's anything you want to be while meditating, it's comfortable. Our Ribbon Wrap Bracelets are made of sumptuously soft silk hand-dyed in the USA and are our signature best seller for good reason! We should warn you, however; deciding which one to buy is the tricky part. We even sell Kids Ribbon Wrap Bracelets, for that special child in your life!
The concept of infinity is something without bounds and our Infinity Necklace knows no bounds when it comes to dressing you up or down. This lightweight pendant necklace is elegant and interesting in shape and is a perfect combination of sophistication and practicality. Infinite possibilities for accessorizing with this beauty; it goes equally well with hiking attire, beach wear, or a little black dress.
Ah, balance--the thing we're all seeking. You might not have it in your life, but at least you can have it around your neck, giving you hope for calmer days ahead. Like the Infinity Necklace, the Balance Necklace transitions seamlessly from the hills to the hot spots, giving you flair with your activewear or perfectly complementing your strappy sundress.
Every piece of Bronwen Jewelry is protected by our signature lifetime repair/replace warranty; always has been, always will be. And all of our outdoor and artisan jewelry is handcrafted right in our Bend, OR, studio under Fair Trade practices. Knowing we offer this level of quality gives us a feeling of tranquility--you might say it's our Zen business model.
So play hard this summer. Weed your garden; get dirt under your fingernails. Get waterlogged and bruised; scrape your knees. Stay up too late, watch the meteor showers, savor the sunrise. But cherish the pauses in the pandemonium, breathe deeply, and be present in the time and space you occupy. At Bronwen Jewelry, we're here for your Zen moments.
Creating meaningful work and serving with love is the antidote to despair and loneliness in this big and befuddling world. Belonging is a force that fortifies our most basic foundation; our self as connected to others and a world worth fighting for.
While en route home to Boulder, Colorado following another deeply fulfilling and inspiring week with Wellfit Girls, I reflected upon a statement one of our leaders expressed to the girls in our final circle. “I may be your leader, but you are my teachers.” Through tears, humility and grace, I experienced great pride in that moment. Pride, not because I created an organization that led an amazing group of 19 young women and five staff members to Peru for our fifth year in a row, but because I have gotten out of my own way for my mentees to take ownership of this program as if it were their very own. This is no small gift and I behold it with great reverence; I have not only envisioned purpose, I have enabled and nurtured it to fruition. In order to do this, I spent years leading in my way, then stepping out of my way, to let others lead in their own way.
This may sound cliché and trite, but it’s as brave a thing as I’ve ever done—handing over the reins. It’s like planning for the adventure of a lifetime and not checking the weather, showing up surprised, unprepared (or possibly perfectly prepared), miserable and/or satisfied all at once. Sharing our vision with others and allowing them to claim it as their own makes for one fantastic and authentic adventure. If we try to control everything ourselves, the natural cycle of change will stagnate and growth will cease.
I grew up believing in and abiding by the “American Dream”. I don’t recall collaboration and connection with alliances at the top of How to Be an American Success story. I was expected to surpass my parents in education and wealth, climb the corporate ladder and achieve excellence and success at all costs—mainly the message was, stomp over your competitors. Individual pursuit was not only encouraged in society, it was preferred. Although I was acknowledged as a “natural leader” my entire life, I felt alone in my mind, unaware of my true potential to lead and influence for good in the world. I was not motivated by financial gain like many of my peers; and social justice and environmental issues continued to be my paramount concerns throughout my life. How would I ever be successful if these were my goals?
I continue to meet this once-younger-me in many of the young women we serve at Wellfit Girls. In most of their one-on-one sessions during our 10-day Peru expedition, their self-proclaimed greatest challenge was “their negative thoughts” or “lack of confidence”. When faced with nature’s bountiful opportunities for challenge, they actively and powerfully stepped through them, one rocky, high altitude, oxygen-deprived and icy step at a time. It wasn’t the obvious thin air, cold temperatures, nausea, fatigue or back-aching physical labor of service that challenged the girls the most—it was their own thoughts—the 65 thousand some-odd ones they walk with daily.
Deceptive, destructive or even mildly distracting thoughts, I’m not like anyone else. I don’t fit in. If anyone knew who I really was they wouldn’t like me. I can’t. It’s too hard. I’m not fit enough. I’m not smart enough. I’m not enough. I’m too small. I’m too big. I’m too poor. I’m too much. I’m too different.
The. List. Goes. On.
Until we flip the script. Until we talk more honestly with one another. Until we validate our wholeness. Until we stop criticizing our parts. Until we show each other we matter. Until we show ourselves we matter.
Until we lead the way.
And I’m not saying everyone should go climb a mountain or hike a trail (well, yes, actually, I am saying that). You must if you can or even if you think you can’t, because nature is the most badass place to be and hiking is hard and when you do hard things then you prove you can do other hard things, so there, I said it.
Take a hike!
We use the mountains as metaphors in our program as a strong inspiration to “climb high in all areas of life” and life rarely presents us with one daunting mountain per life. We get ranges of peaks to ascend in our lifetimes; sometimes arduously, perilously and painstakingly slow, other times with great ease, adventure and joy.
One thing I confidently, proudly, heart-burstingly know for sure; no matter the difficultly of the mountains we will climb in life, it’s always better with a trail full of power sisters and brothers in front of and behind you. You don’t have to be the strongest or fastest to be a leader. You don’t have to always know the physical way (there are guides for that). You must simply show up—mind ready and open hearted to adventure.
Nietzsche reminds us, that on the mountain of truth, one never climbs in vain; we either reach a higher step today or exercise our strength to climb higher tomorrow.
Not everyone reaches bold, beautiful and blissful summits in life. In fact, for most, summits are brief moments, far and few between, marked by tenacious time on the trail of life, endless endurance on the side of the mountains.
The flailing and resting and pausing and doubting and supporting and stopping and starting again and questioning and continuing and crying and laughing and loving and getting to know every little thing about our selves and each other. That’s building character. That’s the side of the mountain. That’s the hummingbirds and sweet, wild strawberries and river crossings and coffee plantations and purple flowers and pink, orange and yellow ones, too. That’s barfing from altitude sickness, but rallying and walking again. The trail to the top is fun facts about cirrus and lenticular clouds and how to hike cool and sleep warm in the mountains and what’s your favorite thing to eat and how your parents met and what you want to be when you grow up and how much you love your dog and what your siblings names are and a million other reasons why taking a slow and hard hike with a bunch of people is a really good idea for your state of mind and the heart and soul of leadership.
Summits don’t matter in the long or short term. It’s the lessons along the way we give to ourselves, and the ones that mama Earth offers so generously. Nature kicks us all in the behind equally. When it rains, we all get wet—rich or poor, skinny or round. We believe the greatest positive influencers in the world will be humbled and empowered by nature’s grace and grit, no matter where we are from, what we look like or where we are going.
One of the greatest gifts of this intensive five-month leadership program was actually not the surprise (yummy) chocolate-making workshop in Cusco, it was the opportunity to hike a trail that led us to the mountain, and the mountain that led us to ourselves. While we did summit with success and pride, it was the lessons along the way that impacted the girls the most, specifically their ability to rein in a couple hundred, perhaps even thousand thoughts or so to make a positive trail marker on their minds for life, knowing they are not alone, fortifying the path to prosperity through connection and belonging.