When most of us walk through a sun-speckled forest or sink our toes into the sandy shore, we’re relaxed and full of peace. For Tiffany Kunz, these activities might be the inspiration for a brand new piece of eco-jewelry, or even a whole collection! In fact, finding geodes as a child had such a lasting effect that it prompted her to create her most recent collection, Concord – a combination of sparkling rough stones set in recycled, hammered metal.
About the Designer
Tiffany’s creative talents were apparent at a very young age, and with a jewelry-designing grandmother, they were fostered and nurtured. Tiffany remembers some of her earliest creations. “My grandmother was a jewelry designer so I am sure that had quite a bit of influence on me. I remember going to her house when I was little and making necklaces from shells and yarn bits I would find. She had an interesting and edgy style that still inspires me.”
Tiffany’s own style is immediately recognizable in all of her work – a sensual rugged edge accented by softer elements such as sparkle, smooth shapes or flowing patterns. This contrast is not only intriguing to Tiffany’s clients, but to her. In fact, contrast is often what guides Tiffany’s hand in creating her eco-jewelry. “I think about what is pleasing to my eye and contrast is a huge element of my design aesthetic. I can’t have a polished stone go in a polished setting. It has to be roughed up, or the other way around. It is so much more interesting to look at when things are fluid but not singular.”
With her natural talent for design, Tiffany attended the Gemological Institute of America, where she became a certified gemologist. After acting as head designer for Sogoli Designs and Associate Designer at Azaara, Tiffany launched her own line in the summer of 2007.
Tiffany’s favorite piece is from her most recent collection, Concord – the Copula necklace. “I am obsessed with it,” she says. The piece was the first in her collection, and a turning point for her in her design aesthetic. The rest of the Concord collection was shaped by the look of the necklace, a collection that is very different from her previous one, Nascent.
About the Jewelry
Bold, striking, rich – these are all words that can be used to describe Tiffany’s jewelry designs, but perhaps one of the best is ‘eco-friendly.’ During her studies, Tiffany learned how the mining of metals and stones affected the earth. She became uncomfortable with the thought that this kind of damage was being done for an accessory, and vowed that her own designs would not demand this kind of harm to the earth. With her eco-conscious husband supporting her all the way, Tiffany creates jewelry that people don’t have to feel guilty wearing. Recycled metals, fair trade gems and the absence of harsh chemicals during the jewelry making process are just a few of the ways that Tiffany keeps her jewelry green.
Tiffany currently works with Raven + Lily, a non-profit organization that uplifts and inspires impoverished women through design and fellowship. Partnerships with women’s co-ops in India, Africa and Los Angeles have been created at this point. Tiffany and other volunteers work to design collections that the women can reproduce and add their own creative touches to. The women are then able to learn a craft which can turn into a micro-enterprise opportunity – which is necessary for their survival in many cases.
“I want my jewelry to be a positive influence in people’s lives, for them to feel good about it when they wear it,” she remarks. When asked what she most wants people to know about her, she replies, “That I am thoughtful with everything I do with my business and in my personal life. I don’t see my company as just something for monetary gain. I recognize that I have an opportunity to give back to my community through it and am currently researching what that could mean in a long term scenario.”
It’s easy to see the thought and heart that is put into Tiffany’s designs and one doesn’t have to look much harder to see that both things are infused into every aspect of her life – from the beliefs she holds to the charity work she does. Wearing Tiffany Kunz jewelry makes a powerful statement, and one that everyone should feel proud to make.
By Samantha Cummings