It all started with a ring. . .
Cheryl Elhammoumi sits across from me in our signature plush chair. She gracefully sips from a glass of red wine and I cannot help but stare at her beautiful ring shimmering in the soft glow of the store. She is impeccably dressed and allows me to snap a few pictures of her unique opals before diving into a wonderful conversation about jewelry, creativity, and her time at Wade Designs. I, being new to the Wade team, am eager to hear her story from the beginning. I am fascinated by her involvement in the creative process and immediately identify with her attachment to “pretty things.” I ask Cheryl to start from the beginning, and so she weaves a tale starting with an African ruby.
Cheryl likes to run her fingers over the stones in the store. She loves to feel their power and patiently searches until she finds the pieces that call out to her from among the others. She first came to Wade Designs after deciding to honor her mother through a piece of jewelry. Cheryl wanted a ring made uniquely for her that would be a constant reminder of her mother’s spirit. After scanning through an assortment of amethysts, she came across a gorgeous African ruby. The rich red reflected both Cheryl and her mother in its captivating beauty and their shared love of the passionate color. From the first design session Cheryl and John became great partners, and soon after, Cheryl claims to have become "addicted to fine jewelry."
She tells me about various other pieces and the significance they play in her life. She doesn’t necessarily mark important moments with jewelry. Instead, she waits for inspiration to hit, whether it is during one of Wade Designs’ many shows or after sorting through some of her older jewelry. She created a beautiful black and gold ring using materials from the first bracelet her husband gave her. A constant desire for a Byzantine-style ring was realized when Cristina helped to match the perfect stones during a showcase. Cheryl fondly remembers this moment, as does Cristina, because it was the first time Cristina helped to sketch out a guest’s dream. After playing with a few ideas and styles, John came in to complete the puzzle and Cheryl’s vision became a reality.
Not only does Cheryl enjoy finding a gorgeous stone, but she also loves John’s hand-engravings that illustrate her favorite animals. She has a stunning pearl necklace featuring a powerful wolf that she identifies as her spirit animal. Cheryl has also created pieces for her daughter, most special being a bat-pendant necklace. John found the perfect red Chinese beads that would accentuate the uniqueness of the pendant; another special touch, chocolate diamond eyes. More stories are told and my pen can barely keep up with each delightful anecdote. She works her way up to the moments I am most excited to her about- her Ethiopian opal ring and matching pendant.
When telling me about each piece, Cheryl always “hears” particular stones or metals calling out to her. She vividly recalls the discovery of the Ethiopian opal and describes the uncertainty she experienced when first buying the stone. Along with high quality and exceptional craftsmanship comes an equally exquisite price. However, she knew she could not walk away from the opal. A look passes through her eyes when she remembers, "it was one of those moments that I knew I would regret if I didn’t buy it, the kind where you feel it in your gut." The ring and pendant were designed at different times, but they match wonderfully. Each is set in a unique and unusual manner, a way that perfectly complements Cheryl’s individuality. She and John have a fantastic understanding. Cheryl soaks up each opportunity to listen and learn about the science behind the art. She says that John, Rita, and Cristina are able to catch her ideas and run with their imagination. Cheryl angled the opal and John suggested evoking the initial African ruby in the enhancer-bale of the pendant. The process sounds lovely and I am enthralled by her knowledge about each piece.
Cheryl finishes her glass and promises to bring some of her other "investments" in the future. (Fortunately, Chalea was able to capture those in a more-professional shoot!) We wrap up our conversation and head over to the Bliss side to sample a few cheeses and browse through new products as the night closes. It’s a wonderful experience to hold a tangible, one-of-a-kind "designed moment." I cannot wait until I am able to help create mine!
- Catherine Wright
Posted by Chalea