Design of the Times: Asbury Adams & Chinchar/Maloney

I know that the thought of sun, cacti, and gems may seem far away right now, but JCK Tucson is right around the corner! As we enter the home stretch of the holiday season, it’s fun to look ahead and anticipate the beauty we will see there.

simoneadamsAsbury Adams

I have a suggestion: Go follow Asbury Adams on Instagram. Right now. I’ll wait. You’ll find there’s a good reason for the Asbury Adams tag line of “Get Addicted.” The feed is a dreamy montage that is very Los Angeles: layering of necklaces and rings, a lifestyle by the pool or the beach. Living in Seattle, I find it aspirational! Simone Adams, the designer behind the brand, successfully melds materials like silk, leather, and vinyl with tactile textures and color in the form of colored gemstones. This is FFJ: fun fine jewelry, luxe and accessible.

How long have you been designing jewelry?
I have been designing jewelry for over 17 years.

What did you do before jewelry?
Designing jewelry is my first and only love.

And then came the impetus to launch a jewelry line…
A product of the 1980s art world, my earliest memories are of making and wearing stacks of friendship bracelets. So it seemed only natural that this would translate into a career for me.

What are you most proud of in your career so far?
I’m proud of just learning to enjoy the journey each day. There are so many new twists and turns every day that come with owning your own business. For me it is important to remember it’s all about baby steps…

What customer do you have in mind when designing?
My customer is definitely a woman who has a luxe-bohemian sensibility, and of course she must love diamonds!!

Any frustrations or lessons learned along the journey to Asbury Adams?
It has been such a learning experience all around, and I really feel like I am beginning to get a feel for the business. And most importantly, I am making so many wonderful connections along the way.

What is exciting to you about JCK Tucson?
I have heard wonderful things about the JCK Tucson show, especially in terms of prospective buyers, and I am really looking forward to participating in it. I am also really excited about attending the events the JCK Tucson team sets up to allow us to connect with other amazing members of the community.

What is your favorite piece you’ve designed so far, and why?
The Sleeping Vishnu Mala is a favorite of mine. Malas hold such a special place in my heart.

Any sage advice for someone on the verge of spreading his or her creative wings as a jewelry designer?
Do what you love and follow your passion!

Do you have a direction or vision for Asbury Adams in 2017 (and beyond)?
I am so thrilled just to be expanding my business, and I hope that 2017 continues to bring creative energy and new buyers my way!

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Based in a small studio in Portland, Oregon, Colin Chinchar and Marian Maloney of Chinchar/Maloney are quietly creating dreamy diamonds in handmade settings. Each diamond is chosen for its inherent beauty, including—or because of—characteristics that add to its texture and color. They let each diamond speak for itself in each fluid creation. I can’t wait to go try on their memorable rings! We chatted with Marian on behalf of the duo and got to know a little bit more about the brand.

How did the Chinchar/Maloney studio evolve?
After working in social services in New York City at a time when budgets were being cut and it was becoming increasingly challenging to feel that I was able to help people, I had become burnt out. This was also around the time that Colin and I met. We bonded very quickly over our shared artistic interests and a desire to have a lifestyle that would enable an artistic life. He kept asking me, “If you could do anything without money being a worry, what would you do?” For a long time I drew a blank. Then one night I had a dream in which there was a pile of smooth but natural and uncut gemstones sitting in the middle of a soft chair. I told Colin when I woke up that if I could do anything, I would make jewelry. But I didn’t know how to make jewelry. To which he replied, “Let’s do it.” He started teaching himself jewelry techniques and then he would teach me. A few years ago Colin’s sister Lorien [Chinchar-Petitt] joined us as our marketer. Her presence and skills have completed our circle as well as making us a real family company. Our company continues to evolve quickly, and we’ve had some amazing, creative, dedicated, and all-around lovely people join our team and our family.

Did I see someone cutting a gem in your video on your home page?
You saw Colin cutting a sapphire! We are really excited about adding this to our process. We are not able to cut diamonds, however, so we don’t cut those—yet!

What does your design process look like? Do you have specific collections, or does the center stone decide what the jewelry becomes?
My design process usually starts with the diamond or gemstone. That was the seed of our origins, after all, and it continues to be the catalyst. Almost all of our pieces are one-of-a-kind, and historically our collections have been one-off pieces. More recently, we have developed a bridal collection that we’re calling the New Classic. This is what we will be showing at JCK. The New Classic combines vintage aesthetics with the fresh, natural look of rustic diamonds. This collection bridges the gap between organic and structured, ancient and modern. Each style name bears the name of volcanic calderas—the birthplace of diamonds.

You work with some colored gemstones: Are there criteria the gems have to meet?
Fundamentally, a gemstone has to speak to us. We love unusual gems with interesting textures brought about by internal inclusions. We love free-form or unique shapes as well.

You have 239,000 followers on Instagram and a Snapchat account! How important is social media in your marketing strategy?
Social media is very important for our marketing, and we have a combined following of over half a million and growing. Lorien observed very quickly that the majority of our fans and customers are members of the millennial generation. They’re getting engaged now, and they are very active on social media.

Does your home base of Portland inform your designs?
Absolutely. The natural beauty of this area is constantly inspiring. I created our lookbook as an ode to Portland and the Pacific Northwest. I also wanted to communicate visually the dichotomies that are the inspiration for the New Classic collection. It is so energizing to be surrounded by a like-minded community of creative freethinkers who forge their own paths.

Why do you think your particular aesthetic resonates with buyers?
Our customers are looking for something different, something that reflects their individuality. We often say that with our diamonds, you don’t choose one, the right diamond chooses you. We see that happen time and again. It’s usually the first ring they pick up.

Is this your first JCK Tucson show? Why JCK Tucson?
This is our first show, period, and we’re very excited! We’ve been to JCK Tucson before as gem buyers, and we liked the vibe there. Plus, you can’t argue with Tucson weather in February.

Speaking as a fellow resident of the Pacific Northwest, I totally agree. What kind of relationship are you looking for in a retailer of Chinchar/Maloney?
We’re looking to partner with retailers who appreciate what we do and what our company is about. Making money is great and all, but we are more motivated by forging mutually beneficial and collaborative relationships that will grow and develop over time.

When you’re not in your booth at JCK Tucson, where are you likely to be—poolside, hiking, or enjoying a sunset drink on the patio at the Starr Pass?
All of that sounds really good, although hopefully, we’ll have such busy days that we’ll be too tired for a hike. We are open to suggestions and invitations.

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