Upon entering jewelry designer Judy Geib’s sunlit Williamsburg studio, it’s easy to see that she is always keeping busy. Her latest sketches and ideas line the tables, and the room softly hums as members of her team work to bring the intricate designs to life. Before launching her debut jewelry collection into Barneys New York in 2002, Geib was an artist with many different skill sets. “I came to New York for art and worked first as a graphic designer for an architect. I always loved antique jewelry, and then an occasion was presented to try to make pieces myself. I had studied lapidary and was forty when I started creating pieces professionally. What I love about the jewelry-making process is that your craft can always be improved. Selling my own collection was completely unexpected,” she humbly notes.
Art books, which are often the source of inspiration for her handmade pieces, are stacked and shelved throughout the studio. Whether Judy is referencing imagery from folk art or typography, the designer always has an idea in mind before starting to sketch. “I’m especially interested in artistry reinterpretation,” she says, “I love to pull inspiration from the non-contemporary and transpose that idea into present day.” This path is what led Geib to create her latest exclusive, the Wise Sweet Wild Silly necklace.
“This design all started with a search for glyphs, and I loved what I stumbled upon in pages from the Book Of Kells,” says Judy. Wanting the necklace to have meaning, Judy referenced shapes found in the manuscript to adapt her own Celtic-inspired letters. On the final piece you’ll find the words; wise, sweet, wild, and silly, spelt out in English. “These adjectives are what I aspire to be or qualities that I admire in other people,” she explains.
After sketching various versions of the glyphs, Judy knew that she wanted the one-of-a-kind necklace to be extravagant in order to reflect the intricate letters. She embellished the letters with rubies, as she originally drew them in a vivid red hue, and then added striking opals for separation. The uniqueness of the piece is apparent, but taking an even closer look, you’ll discover that each letter is dimensional with all sides and curves pavéd in sparkling stones as well. “Those details happened while testing out the piece in metal, which is why, I think, handmaking jewelry with my team is so important. Designs can truly be transformed during the process,” says Geib. The necklace was completed with a subtle clasp, to sit softly on the neck of the wearer.
The Book of Kells-inspired piece took months to create from start to finish and the word’s meanings are echoed by the beautiful design. “The actual words are a reminder to always be compassionate, take a leap, be playful, and to always learn. The owner of this necklace will hopefully embrace those qualities too, but it’s also open-ended for interpretation,” she smiles. The designer’s joyous sentiment, represented now in jewelry form, is the perfect statement-maker for wear throughout the holiday season and beyond.
The Wise Sweet Wild Silly necklace is Exclusively Ours and available for purchase now at our Madison Avenue flagship. Call 212.826.8900 to inquire.