Elizabeth Locke’s love of the Old World runs deep. The Virginia-born jewelry designer is known for her world travels to unearth ancient elements that she transforms into unique, modern, handcrafted pieces. A former magazine editor, who traded words for gold and hasn’t looked back since, she chatted with us about timeless style, Southern belles and never compromising.
Elizabeth Locke Jewels marks a quarter century in business this year, and as part of the celebration, Locke makes her first personal appearance in Naples with a February 21 trunk show at Bigham Jewelers. Bigham and Locke will also be donating two of her creations to the silent auction for The Shelter for Abused Women & Children’s annual luncheon February 22.
What drew you to change careers to follow your passion for jewelry?
I was writing for Town & Country magazine when I was sent to Bangkok to do a story. There I found a group of very talented goldsmiths who made things completely by hand. Their pieces were beautifully crafted, but nothing you would want to wear. I thought with better designs and beautiful stones we could make wonderful jewelry together. Those same goldsmiths still work for me.
|Elizabeth Locke’s approach takes antique gems and makes them work for today’s women.|
Each item is designed by you and made using 19-karat gold and antique elements. Is there something about the mixture of the old and new that attracts you?
I love recycling pieces, and I have always loved antique jewelry, especially Etruscan and nineteenth-century neoclassical designs. The problem is that jewelry is always designed for the era in which it is worn, so antique jewelry frequently looks out of place when worn with modern clothes. I try to take the ideas and techniques behind antique jewelry and change the scale of the designs so they can be worn today.
How have your Southern roots and European travels influenced your collections?
Southern women do love to adorn themselves. My frequent trips to Europe have also influenced my aesthetic. As a child, my father took me to almost every ancient ruin he could find. Although I was busy chasing lizards, the classical architecture must have embedded itself in my brain because now I am fixated on sphinxes and caryatids and gods and goddesses.
How would you describe your personal style?
I wish I could say that I’m tremendously stylish, but for me clothes are the background for jewels. My mantra is “just because you can doesn’t mean you should.” I like to wear one piece of jewelry that’s a statement piece—usually a large brooch or a necklace with pendant—and then keep the rest of the jewelry on the smaller, quieter side.
What is the most important lesson you’ve learned along the way?
You need to understand what you do well and stick to it. You also need to keep being creative but without compromising your look.