At the Design Studio with SimplyAdorned4U Jewelry

by Reema Farooqui

When I first saw some pearl jewelry pieces designed and handcrafted by SimplyAdorned4U Jewelry, I was left speechless! Not only were the colours and composition of the pieces simply exquisite, but how the different shapes of pearls and gemstones were set off against one another really spoke to the artistic genius of the jewelry designer.

Margaret Woods, the creative powerhouse behind SimplyAdorned4U Jewelry, started her jewelry business 8 years ago, as an artistic expression of her life long love of pearls. Now, through her Etsy store, she sells her one of a kind pieces to jewelry lovers all over the world. Describing her business as a one-woman production, Margaret designs, creates as well as photographs all her beautiful handcrafted pieces of jewelry. Using her incredible sense of design and colour, Margaret can turn her pearls, gemstones and findings into stunning works of art! When you buy a SimplyAdorned4U piece of jewelry, whether through her Etsy store or as a custom order, you can be sure that you are getting a unique piece of jewelry that has been handcrafted, down to the smallest detail, by Margaret herself.

Margaret very kindly took time out of her busy schedule to answer some of my questions: her journey to becoming such a phenomenal handmade jewelry designer and maker, where she gets her creative inspiration from and what advice she can give to anyone buying pearl jewelry for the first time!

Margaret, tell us a little about how you came to be a jewelry designer?

It was kind of by chance and a few things happened at about the same time. Little history, I had not been a ‘crafty’ person, but I had sewn for years – dresses, gifts, operating room hats. But I really thought I should naturally be an artist, a painter specifically like my grandmothers but it never flowed from me/came naturally at all. Then about 2009 I thought maybe I could make some eye glass holder (you know the kind around the neck) for my Mom instead of buying them at craft shows. At the same time I met a woman named Pearl (Beading Gem) who made jewelry, had a blog and sold on Etsy, and I as well a friend of mine started beading. So my first beads were glass and from…wait for it… the dollar store! I made eye glasses holders for my Mom and then for a friend, then some necklaces which I sold or gave away at work. My first craft show was at work and I started selling on Etsy shortly afterward. I looked at some books and went on-line for learning. I also took a metal work course from Nova Scotia Centre of Craft and Design. I have always had an affinity for pearls, looking at my mom’s wedding akoyas and then my first strand as a child brought back from Hawaii, little freshwater rice pearls.

In one of your Instagram posts, you said “I love creating.” Tell us a little about where you get your creative inspiration from and what is the most enjoyable part of the process of creating for you?

I get inspiration from the gems and pearls themselves, it might sound kind of corny. One of the things I enjoy is buying the pearls or gems. Sometimes I know exactly what I am making with them, but most of the time, I just like the pearls/gems and just have to have them. I start to put pieces together, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, trial and error. At times I remake whole pieces, I like that too…getting it right. I really love making custom pieces, I love working with others and collaborating with their energy and ideas. We go back and forth with ideas and pictures to create a piece that they want and this is the most enjoyable part of the creative process for me.

Designed and handcrafted by SimplyAdorned4U Jewelry

You use so many different and beautiful pearls in your jewelry pieces, which you source from all over the world. What are the qualities you are looking for in your pearls?

Shape and lustre. I love unique shaped pearls, yes round is lovely (and I do have some), but a high lustre round pearl is expensive. Unique shape pearls add to the creativity, combining different elements together, adding to experimentation and  creating unique, one of a kind pieces. Lustre is important too, as no one wants a dull pearl.  Lustre is a major part of the appeal of pearls. Colour is definitely a factor too in choosing pearls and gems.

The pieces in your store are so unique, with beautiful pearls, eye-catching gemstones and metals. When designing these beautiful jewelry pieces, what is your starting point? Colour combinations, themes, or some other ideas?

The starting point for me is usually with the pearls. I lay them out, hold them, place them with other pearls or gems. Sometimes I know immediately, other times they sit in the tray/on the studio table, while I ponder over a few days. Sometimes I get it right and the piece is immediately loved, other times the piece languishes and I eventually take it apart and create a very different piece. Sometimes I get an idea from a movie or show,  I am not one to follow current fashion trends.

Designed and handcrafted by SimplyAdorned4U Jewelry

On your website, you said that wire wrapping is your favourite style for making jewelry. Can you tell us what makes wire wrapping so special for you?

It is very hands on, lots of work but rewarding experience, I can really mix up pearls and gems, playing pearl colours off the metal or gems. And if I want to replace or correct a link then I only have to fix a couple of links vs with knotting…if I make an error I have to take the whole strand apart and start from scratch.

I just love all your jewelry, especially because it is one of a kind and handmade. What does handmade mean to you?

Creation by one person or a small team of individuals who make pieces from start to finish. Materials are purchased – pearls, gems, findings, wire, thread – taking these materials to create jewelry by hand, makes it handmade to me. It is hard to put into words… but there is a part of me in all the pieces. This uniqueness and individual attention does not come from mass produced items, which may be less expensive, but certainly not unique or one of a kind. I do everything in my shop – purchasing, creating, photography, listing descriptions, communication, promoting and shipping.

You started designing and making jewelry about 8 years ago, but over these past 8 years were there any challenges you faced and if so, how did you overcome them?

I think one challenge may be my location, I live in Canada (which I love) but if I lived in the US I would have better access to purchase materials in person and honestly think I would sell more as a US shop. To overcome this, I purchase materials on-line and create unique pieces.

Who would be that one fictional character from books, TV or movies whom you would love to see wearing your jewelry and why?

What a fabulous question! Hmmmm, really making me think, an obvious choice would be Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s – because everything is magnificent! The woman, the clothes, the jewelry, the song, the setting are all iconic. Carrie Bradshaw and Lucy Ricardo – because they are quirky, funny, unique, independent and non-conformist.

Designed and handcrafted by SimplyAdorned4U Jewelry

There are so many unique and interesting pearl jewelry pieces being made today, yours being one of them 😊 What is the most unique and creative piece that you have designed over the past 8 years, in your own opinion?

Honestly my most creative pieces have been ones which were custom orders created in collaboration with a client – the most fun, interesting and creative. I have shown some of these pieces on my Instagram page. I cannot pick a favourite, I love so many of them.

Lastly, to a customer who may be thinking of buying pearl jewelry for the first time, what advice would you give them and what would you ask them to look for in the pieces they might want to buy?

To look for pieces that reflect you and your personality, though round white graduated akoya strands are lovely and classic, they are what most people think of when they first go looking for pearls. I don’t think a lot of people realize the variety that is available currently. Also you don’t have to spend a lot to have nice pearls, so many venues now to buy pearls, do some research, look around, before spending a lot.

Find out more about SimplyAdorned4U Jewelry and their beautiful handcrafted jewelry at their ETSY store SimplyAdorned4U and on Instagram @simplyadorned4u

Thank you so much Margaret for answering my questions. I wish you all the best for the future and continued success at SimplyAdorned4U Jewelry!

All photographs courtesy SimplyAdorned4U Jewelry

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