Despite the fact that it’s in the heart of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, stepping into Rebecca Zeijdel-Paz’s serene apartment is like entering an island locale. “I just want to feel like I’m in the Caribbean at all times,” Zeijdel-Paz laughs. The walls host colorful paintings by the designer herself, and throughout the light-filled space, which doubles as her studio, there are shades of sand with pops of turquoise and yellow. There are crystals on the windowsill, a hammock in the living room, and carefully placed souvenirs curated from past travels.
Down the hall lies her studio, where collaged images of tropical destinations and women on holiday both decorate the space and inspire her feminine line, Beck Jewels. Launched in 2008, Beck Jewels was started on the island of Curaçao, where Zeijdel-Paz grew up, but today it’s also influenced by her city life. We chatted with the designer over jasmine tea, learning about her handcrafted statement earrings, necklaces, bracelets, and rings, and her love of travel, history, and art.
The Window: Have you always been interested in art and jewelry making?
Rebecca Zeijdel-Paz: Yes, especially art. I didn’t find jewelry until much later, but I studied art in school, and my grandmother was a beautiful painter. It’s just kind of in my DNA. I see my nieces making things now, too, and I feel such a connection to it, especially with the women in my family.
How did you start handcrafting jewelry?
After I graduated, I went to Italy to figure out what I wanted to do. Once there, I went to a market and found all of these amazing stones, so I purchased a bunch and was like, “I’ll just see what I can make out of this.” I started creating pieces thinking maybe it would just be a hobby,but then truly fell in love with it. That trip was really serendipitous because after my prior fashion internships I realized that designing clothes just didn’t feel like me. At one point, I also worked at a gallery because I love art but never felt like I could take selling my own artwork seriously enough. When jewelry came along, it was truly perfect. I loved that I could teach myself plus complete the full process from start to finish. There’s so much you can do with jewelry.
Where do you source your materials?
The pearls in the OG or Le Margherite earrings, cameos, and the gemstones for the Lolita earrings are sourced from all around. For pearls we use two types, freshwater pearls and lately Swarovski pearls from Austria for a modern look. I’m also drawn to the healing properties of the gemstones and love to tell the customers about them. Rose quartz, for example, is normally associated with women, and holding it closer to your body can create a pink aura to open the heart chakra. Jewelry in general can be so meaningful, especially with heirloom pieces that create a feminine bond and hold sentimental value.
What is your creative process like when designing a new piece of jewelry?
It’s always about creating a story. First I think, who is my muse? Who is my girl? Sometimes, let’s say it’s Brigitte Bardot in Saint-Tropez, and then I think, well, what does it smell like there? So, I light a candle. What types of flowers are there? What kinds of objects? So there’s a whole world created around each piece to see what fits. To me, the lifestyle behind the jewelry is so important because I make everything with my own hands. I want the wearer to feel like they are on holiday anywhere across the world. When I used to make the jewelry on the island, we’d have tourists say, “I’m back in Germany but I’m wearing my earrings and feel like I’m in the Caribbean.” That always made my day and it’s such a connection. Just the essence of transporting that continuous kinetic energy is so intimate. I want the wearer to always understand the concept behind the jewelry, and even as we grow, I want my business to still be creative and special.
Your home décor is very eclectic. Do you take inspiration from all of the places that you’ve traveled to?
Yes, for sure! My husband built most of the furniture, and I did the paintings, so it’s a combination of the both of us. Mostly, the décor is from Curaçao or from all of the places we’ve traveled to together. For example, one piece is from Colombia, and this vase is from Holland. While it may be from all over the world, I want to feel like I’m home here.
Where is your dream travel destination?
I’m dying to go to Bali especially, because I’d feel such a connection to the culture. Curaçao is a Dutch island, and the Dutch used to have more colonies including Indonesia. Because of that, where I grew up is a melting pot of so many cultures and cuisines. Indonesian food is a staple in a lot of homes in Curaçao, so exploring Bali would be meaningful in reference to my own heritage.
How does living in Brooklyn influence your designs?
I love Brooklyn because, like Curaçao, it’s such a mix of cultures with an artistic spirit and sense of community that inspires me. It has a new renaissance feel, especially with so many different creators living and working here.
What’s next for Beck Jewels?
I’m going to Curaçao to shoot our resort collection, and a big request has been to create mismatched earrings, so I’m really excited to do that. Because the Dutch colonies took bits of culture from all around the world, my concept is, if there was a shipwreck in Curaçao, what would you find? History is all intertwined, so what would you create if you found something old but then reworked it? Or perhaps if you found one earring and then another from a different pair but somehow they went together. Resort is a playful season where you can have more fun, show your shoulders, don big statement earrings, and wear lots of colors!