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Fresh Find: Kaypea Jewellery

Fresh Find: Kaypea Jewellery

kristin mein kaypea

We like our jewellery to be meaningful. Of course, everyone picks up a few fun pieces of trendy costume jewellery here and there, but when it comes to pieces we'll wear forever, we stick with jewellery that is unique, valuable (will last more than a season before looking outdated or junky) and reflects our style. That's why we love Kristin Mein's Kaypea Jewelry.

The handmade pieces are unlike anything you'd find at the mall—and that's a good thing. Based in the U.S., but an avid traveller, Mein learned silver smithing in Thailand and collects materials for her collection online and on vacation. We asked her about her inspiration, when jewellery became more than a hobby and she reveals how she knows a piece will be a good seller.

You mention yoga, travel, the sea and more as inspirations on your site, can you tell me more? "Yoga, travel and the sea are three solid pillars that I feel are at the essence of not just my designs, but of me as a person. I am so inspired by travel and all of the colors and beauty across the world! Something that has been fascinating to me as well is how all cultures have their own styles of jewelry and adornment—there is a lot to be inspired by in every new place I visit. 

For the sea, I feel most at home near the ocean and love that I can use so many items from the ocean in my designs. As far as yoga goes, it keeps me grounded when things get hectic and I think the yoga community is a great tribe of people. I want to offer designs that are yoga-friendly and love making malas [beaded meditation jewellery]!"

Lots of people dabble in jewellery making, what sets your work apart from the hobby jewellery maker?
"For a long time I considered myself a hobby jewelry maker, mostly selling to my friends and family and using the extra spending money to feed my bead habit! After living abroad in Panama for years, where my resources were very limited, I found myself really missing making jewelry but at the same time wanting to expand my skills beyond the basics of beading and wirework so that I could make designs that I truly felt were original. I vowed that when I moved back to the US I would learn silversmithing skills and get serious about making jewelry as a business.

After that, everything started to fall into place for me—I couldn’t find a silversmith course in the U.S. that worked on my time schedule but while I was on my honeymoon in Southeast Asia I came across an amazing course in Chiang Mai, Thailand where my husband and I had the teacher all to ourselves and were able to learn the foundations of silversmithing. When we got back from our trip I knew I needed to start putting together my own home studio which is the biggest financial hurdle for most people as they begin to work with metalsmithing. I ended up finding the craigslist deal of a lifetime for an ENTIRE jeweler’s workshop for an incredible price and after that I was up and running!

I wanted to do everything right from the start so while teaching myself more techniques for making jewelry, I have also been taking courses online for creative entrepreneurs to ensure that I can sustain my business. It is definitely a hustle but I love the joy people get from a beautiful piece of jewelry. I can’t wait to keep learning and see what the future holds for Kaypea Jewelry!"

How many of each piece do you make?
"Many of my designs are one of a kind or limited edition but I also have some more classic items, like simple stacking rings or stud earrings, that I can make in higher quantities. Since I prefer to source my materials in person from all corners of the globe, that often limits how many of a certain item are going to be available." 

What are your favourite materials to work with?
Hands down, silver, turquoise, moonstone and opal. I have loved turquoise since I was a little girl and love the play of colors you get with moonstone and opals, so gorgeous!" 

Where do you find your materials, especially the natural ones like shells?
"All over! I get some things online, Etsy is a great resource for unique materials. I have a lot of stones and beads that I found while traveling in Bali and Thailand. Here in the states I try to make it to the International Gem & Jewelry Show whenever possible so that I can choose stones and beads in person. I still have some turquoise I picked up in New Mexico on a cross country trip years ago and hope to get back to the southwest again soon to source more turquoise. I am a serious beachcomber—I have bags full of shells and sea glass just waiting to be made into designs and my new favorite pastime is scouring Folly Beach here in Charleston, SC for sharks' teeth! Be on the lookout for a beach themed collection coming next year…"

I love that some of your pieces take the natural shape of the material you’re working with. Is it important to you for your jewellery to have a natural look and feel?
I love organic shapes and the combination of raw materials with shiny precious metals. I am definitely a nature lover and want my designs to be beautiful but still hold a bit of their natural origins." 

Do you follow trends when designing?
"I loosely follow trends but my general rule is that if I wouldn’t wear it, I’m not going to make it. I think it is important to stay true to your own vision and keep creating pieces that you love so much you almost don’t want to sell them (this is a common problem for me!). If I love a ring or necklace that much, someone else will, too." 

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