Making simple rocks into precious memories.Jeweler Blair LaBella's job description includes trips to the beach. Through her travels up and down the seacoast, from the Bay of Fundy to Kitttery Point she has amassed a collection of beach tumbled stones of various sizes, textures and colors from red to shades of gray to white. Although she now lives in Lee, for many years her home was on Gerrity Island, a stone's throw away from her source material.LaBella creates earrings, pendants and bracelets using her vast stone collection and her skills as a designer and metalsmith. She graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design in ceramics, but was drawn to working on smaller-scale designs through the years, going from ceramic tiles and beads to the simplicity of beach stone jewelry.The stones are set in simple, fine silver bezels because "their beauty is in their understated elegance," says LaBella.She creates matched earrings by cutting stones in half and backing them with silver. Brooches can be an arrangement of stones set together with a minimal silver setting. Prices range from $38 for small earrings to $1,600 for a one-of-a-kind necklace. LaBella likes the idea of well-designed pieces fitting most wallets and strives to keep her work affordable.Who doesn't pick up rocks while strolling the beach on vacation? LaBella has created custom jewelry with customer's favorite stones for a keepsake as an adornment.
This article appears in the May 2011 issue of New Hampshire Magazine