I first heard about S|Bella Jewelry from Katie, and immediately loved the idea of mixing vintage pieces with modern materials and beautiful gemstones. These pieces are all handmade by the talented Jenny Schretter. I recently got the opportunity to ask the DC-based jewelry designer some questions and found out what inspires her, who her style icons are, and what her favorite piece is from the Harriette Collection.
I love the idea of combining vintage pieces of jewelry with contemporary stones and gems. It’s one of those ideas I wish I would have thought of myself because it makes so much sense. How did you think of it?
I wanted to create custom pieces exclusively around melding the rich history and uniqueness of vintage period pieces with fresh, romantic, edgy, modern style and for most of the designs, I found that incorporating contemporary gemstones was the perfect bridge for that. When I get really lucky on a scouting trip, I’ll find very rare c1950 Mediterranean salmon-colored coral or c1930 Amethyst faceted nuggets and that is incredibly exciting to be able to use as well.
How did you first get interested in jewelry design?
I’ve always been happiest when I’m creating things, piecing things together, and admiring/trying on/collecting anything that involves jewelry. After college, I moved to the SoHo district in NYC and worked in finance. I lived a block away from Prince Street and would stop by jewelry vendors all the time on my way home from work and on the weekends to see their new creations. I was so intrigued by all of it. One day, I stopped by a vendor whom I was a regular customer of, and asked if he could change out certain parts of one necklace with the stones and chain of another piece. We both loved the end result. Thereafter he started asking me for my opinion and suggestions regularly. One day he said to me very matter-of-factly, “You should be a jewelry designer.” To be honest, I didn’t even think it was a feasible option at that point because I had no formal training and I was already working in finance but that didn’t stop me from taking a moment to say “I wish”…and truly mean it. I started teaching myself beading and wire technique and began making pieces on the side as a hobby. As soon as I started, I couldn’t stop. Making and designing jewelry became an incredible passion of mine and the activity that made me the absolute happiest. When strangers started approaching me on the subway about where they could buy the earrings I was wearing, I just thought, “You know what…why not?!” and launched S|Bella very shortly thereafter.
What inspires the different designs?
I get inspired by the actual vintage pieces themselves, as well as the juxtaposition of different textures, colors, and materials. I have a mental catalog of my inventory – and as crazy as it may sound – a lot of the time, designs will morph out of those and I’ll run home to make it or wake up in the middle of the night to write or draw it out so that I don’t forget. I love playing around with all of the materials and being able to use my eye for what color stones/chain combinations I think would look best. I make the pieces to be transcendent of any trends – something that you want to wear a month from now, a year from now, seventy years from now.
What is your favorite stone or gem to work with/wear?
I’ve made about thirty new pieces and counting since the launch of the site, and lately I’m really loving pyrite and citrine. The gold detailing on the stones match beautifully with the vintage costume chain that I work with.
Who is your style icon?
I think both Rachel Bilson and Sienna Miller have impeccable, amazing style. I think style should be expressive of who you are as a person, and have the ability to make you feel strong, beautiful, capable, smart, and confident.
Who are your favorite clothing/jewelry designers?
For jewelry, I love unique pieces that make a statement. I have a lot of respect for Erickson Beamon and Camilla James and think they do really amazing work centered on eye-catching designs that say something. As for clothing, I adore Alice + Olivia, Stella McCartney, Pencey dresses, Helmut Lang’s edge, and I think James Perse and Alexander Wang T-shirts are probably the most comfortable things ever made.
What is your favorite piece from your current collection and describe the perfect outfit to go with it:
That’s a really tough one – there are too many to choose from! The Thelma necklace is one of the most unique designs I’ve made and I’m really proud of it. It’s always a huge conversation starter whenever I wear it and it looks amazing on everyone. For the Fall months, I’d pair it with a pair of skinnies, a v-neck and a fitted blazer or leather jacket, polished off with a pair of boots (I love Sam Edelman and Frye) for an effortlessly chic look that can be worn day to night.
This first collection will be available exclusively through retailers (which are in the process of being solidified and will be posted on the website very shortly) because every piece is one-of-a-kind as a result of the unique, premium vintage materials that are used. However, interested customers can order their very own one-of-a-kind, custom-made piece(s), which will be designed exclusively for them by contacting Jennifer at: firstname.lastname@example.org.