Friday, August 19, 2011

jewelry with a message: love heals!

by frédérik sisa

While visiting the lovely little town of Ojai (about one-and-a-half hours north of LA, in Ventura County), my wife and I came across a boutique called Love Heals. It was perfectly charming and bohemian, with the sort of hand-crafted jewelry that look like long-lost treasures from an attic. A family business, Love Heals consists of the mother-son-daughter team of Adrianna, Gunnar, and Elisa, who have married their love of beautiful jewelry with a business model focused on ethical practices. In addition to a commitment to using American labour and ethically sourced materials, they are dedicated to planting trees and providing financial support to many charities. As their website states:

“Since we started Love Heals we have worked with countless charities with our main focus on supporting tree planting most recently with Greener Ethiopia (with over 600,000 trees planted to date). We have worked on Japanese Salvation Army campaigns, Pakistan flooding ActionAid food programs, sponsoring over 10,000 malnourished at-risk children with Vitamin Angels, freeing indentured children in Sudan with Abolish Slavery, planting trees with American Forests and Trees for the Future…”

Their jewelry – also available in stores like Neiman Marcus, Fred Segal, Planet Blue and Calypso, and seen on celebrities such as Oprah, Alicia Silverstone, Taylor Swift, Keith Richards, and many others – incorporates a variety of gems, metals, and other materials to enhance designs inspired by nature and globetrotting. Particularly compelling is the Jewelry Bar concept, which lets you mix and match charms using a variety of bracelets or necklaces as foundation. They even had a neat online design system to let you create your own unique piece of jewelry.

For their fashion lines, there’s the romantic vintage-inspired Lumiere, which brings to mind lovely, glamourous ladies in a jazz nightclub. Fluid and elegant, indeed, as the clothes offer lovely contours and draping effects using a material made from tree pulp called micro-modal. The collection will launch the Coterie Trade Show in NYC with availability in Spring 2012.

Also available is their Radiation line, which is admittedly a puzzle on account of its claim to offer protection from electromagnetic radiation through a proprietary weave of silver metal fibers. Considering that most of the models in the available images are scantily clad, I’m not too sure what it is their trying to sell…paranoia, skin, irony? It’s the only real headscratcher, concept-wise, among an otherwise superlative offering of clothes and jewelry. Having said that, the design of his hoodie/cape is rather lovely.

Price-wise, Love Heals is a bit spendy…you could spend $700 on a necklace, although of course the range starts at a much more accessible number. If you were to use the online design to create a charm bracelet, you’d start with a $65 braided bracelet and add charms to your heart’s delight, with prices spanning $16 to $65. While I initially felt the prices were a hindrance to impulse purchases, in the sense of discovering the store one sunny afternoon and making a spontaneous decision to buy a piece, I admit I’ve since reconsidered. The craftsmanship, as with the design acumen, is exquisite, and the focus on ethical business – their name is their philosophy – drives home the point that cheap for the sake of being cheap is a perspective that does more harm than good. Besides, how much more valuable will that piece of jewelry bet, not just in financial terms but also in human terms, when you know the product you’re buying is the result of care and consideration for a fellow being? Perhaps, in a sense, Love Heals represents a refutation to the idea of bling; jewelry that’s worn and disposed of merely for the sake of passing fancies. I don’t necessarily want to bring up the word heirloom, but there’s something to be said for a piece of jewelry that can rank as a keepsake, a memento, something to which memories can latch on to.

So there you go: a beautiful, socially responsible brand of jewelry and apparel - and a very pleasant discovery during a relaxing vacation. If you happen to be visiting Ojai, be sure to visit the boutique in the downtown arcade. Or visit their website from anywhere and try out their spiffy online designer.

Many thanks to Love Heal's Vanessa Anderson for images and information.

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