A term abroad spent studying art and fashion at Central Saint Martins completely transformed New York-based jewellery designer Shana Cave’s approach to creating. “It was life-changing,” the 23-year-old explains excitedly via Zoom from her New York apartment, while sporting one of her own gemstone floral necklaces. “Everybody’s encouraged to be themselves—the more yourself that you can be, the more that you will thrive.”
Following her intuition has paid off for the Virginia Commonwealth University graduate, who started studying metalsmithing in 2017, before unveiling her first set of innovative prototypes back in May 2020. Rings carved into floral silhouettes in high-octane hues, sterling silver bracelets, and earrings flanked by a mix of onyx, peridot and citrine gems make Cave’s pieces highly covetable. And A-listers agree.
Scrolling through Bella Hadid’s Instagram feed, you’ll find pictures of her wearing clusters of Cave’s candy-coloured rings. The current queen of teen angst, singer Olivia Rodrigo, wears her flower rings in her latest music video for the track “Traitor”. Meanwhile, Dua Lipa personally contacted the creative to request a custom order—one that included the sunflower replica earring she was pictured wearing just last month. It’s a fairytale start for an emerging brand. “I only had a few pieces on my website [when Dua messaged]. She asked if she could purchase a few bits of jewellery I had shared [on Instagram], and she bought them straight away. It’s really nice to know somebody wants to support me.”
Described as her “relic of being a woman and girl”, Cave’s jewellery (which she creates within the confines of her apartment), is complex both in terms of design and execution. Custom pieces can take anywhere from weeks to months to make, the California-born creative shares. “I started off buying small quantities of gems based on the colour, and then slowly introduced intermixing stones. I’m working at my own pace right now.”
Here, Cave discusses her whirlwind success, what it feels like to have A-list fans flocking to her site, and how making jewellery helped her adjust to adulthood.
2021 has been quite the year for you in terms of business expansion. When you started creating jewellery, did you have an aesthetic in mind?
I never intended to open a jewellery line. I shared an image of my designs on Instagram and the reception was great. I was able to take the whole summer to create without any outside influences. It allowed me to gain acceptance around being in an awkward phase of my adulthood—that was a huge influence on my jewellery.
Dua Lipa and Bella Hadid are fans. How did it feel to have them approach you and wear your pieces?
I was contacted by stylist Dean DiCriscio, who asked me to make custom rings for Bella [Hadid] for a trip abroad. By the end of her stay, she [Bella] was wearing my pieces. I’m a young designer still figuring things out on my own. All these crazy things are happening that I didn’t expect for years to come.
“I’m not the master [of my designs], I’m merely the creator and once it’s sold it’s someone else’s treasure.”
Creating pieces that have a long life span is a large part of your ethos—why is this so important to you?
I took a stone setting class at VCU. The materials I use are all original minerals from this earth, metal and rock… My jewellery will survive me and my descendants, as they have survived my ancestors. I’m not the master [of my designs], I’m merely the creator and once it’s sold it’s someone else’s treasure.
Which pieces are most personal to you?
I’m very sentimental about keeping my very first pieces for my archive. A lot of my original designs came about during a break-up. I remember going on a trip and losing a heart earring that I made after my break-up. One minute I was admiring the sunset and the next minute, my earring was gone. Something resonated within me about the feeling of admiration and loss.
“It always felt as though the jewellery brands I admired were afraid of showing their process—I wanted to bring that element into my brand.”
You’re a fan of documenting your creative process on social media. Do you think it’s essential for brands to be more transparent?
I’ve always been obsessed with sharing my process. It always felt as though the jewellery brands I admired were afraid of showing their process—I wanted to bring that element into my brand.
There’s also an added element of rebellion. Fashion schools encourage perfect portfolios and social media is almost always curated. I wanted to show I wasn’t cutting back to be my most presentable. Additionally, it helps customers take in the entire process, so they understand the effort put into making a piece of jewellery.
Who would you most like to wear your pieces next?
Obviously, Rihanna or FKA twigs. I’ve recently discovered an indie singer-songwriter named Alex G and I’d love my jewellery to exist in his world.