Kentlands resident Lynn Meier Novelli designs and makes her own jewelry from her home. She strikes ethnic and vintage tones through her designs and is a big fan of repurposing outdated heirloom pieces into fresh, lively and outspoken combinations.
Although she imports most of her beads, she also looks for limited-edition American materials.
"I bought some wonderful aquamarines that were mined in New Hampshire, but I have not been able to find them again," she said.
One of her trademarks are repurposed heirloom vintage pins, which she transforms into multistrand necklaces.
"I have people bring them to me, and I know everyone has them. Your mother or your grandmother - they are probably keeping them in a drawer. I make people go into their drawers," she said.
Novelli says her jewelry is not for sissies. It makes a statement. Her necklaces are difficult to hide, and they do not go unnoticed.
However, she is also acutely aware of context.
With several clients who are television personalities, including ABC news anchor Alison Starling, Novelli tones down her naturally exuberant voice.
"When I do things for TV, they have to be appropriate. Some of my crazy big stuff is too big for TV. A lot of it is vintage," she explained pointing to her bold creative streak.
Novelli makes lots of her jewelry using freshwater pearls - including baroque and silver lustre pearls - coral, lapis lazuli and glass-bead necklances, bracelets and earrings.
TutiFruti, a necklace made with multi-color glass teardrop beads worn at weddings in Mali, is one of her signature festive designs. She buys a lot of her beads from African countries and courts the ethnic look, but in this case, the shimmering string of translucent primary hues seems to defy ethnic boundaries (unless you are familiar with the wedding ritual first hand.)
Recently, she has begun using tourmalines - clear beads that come in various shades of pink, green and purple.
"They are clear and pretty and look good with a whole myriad of colors. They are very elegant, and I string them on at least five strands at a time," she said.
"I don't use plastic - only high quality materials. My gold and silver pieces are gold-filled or sterling silver. My pearls are freshwater, not cultured," said Novelli who sells her work online through her Etsy store.
Mrs. Sean Connery owns two of her pieces, and Novelli regularly sells at trunk shows in people's homes in San Francisco, Rehoboth, Palm Beach and Montgomery County, including a recent one in the Kentlands at the residence of Patricia and Lloyd Kaufman.
"I am an artist but I also work directly with women to create individual pieces to meet their wardrobe requirements. My jewelry does better when I am there with it. You want to sell it but you also want it to be something special. A friend of mine is Fashion Director at Neiman Marcus in Boston, and she wears my jewelry all the time. My pricepoint is accessible for many people, and I want all kinds of women to enjoy my creations," she explained.
In February/March of 2012, she will be showcasing her work at The Blue House in Bethesda and will be with the ETCETERA fashion showroom spring collection.
Novelli got her start as a jewelry designer in the Kentlands when she began taking classes at a bead shop on Main Street eight years ago. The shop is no longer there, but Novelli remembers it being a wonderful experience.
"When you live in the Kentlands, you never want to leave the Kentlands," said the San Francisco native. "But I have to leave to get my materials," she added.
To contact the artist directly email her at lynn.novelli[@]gmail.com
To see more of her work recently showcased at the Kaufman home and photographed by Gaithersburg photographer Clark Day, click here.