Pondering beauty, material essence, and hand-me-downs this month with Danica Stamenic – jewelry collector, designer, and definitive cool mom. We know you’ll enjoy her sweet musings as much as we did… <3
Danica, everyone on ARQ’s team has lusted over your jewelry at one time or another and a few of us are lucky to even have a piece or two. When searching for unique and special pieces for your vintage jewelry collections, or when designing your own treasures, what strikes you as beautiful? What sorts of shapes, hues, or feelings draw you to certain pieces?
I’m really attracted to objects that feel inevitable, objects that make you say “ah, of course - it had to be that way.” My Dad once gave me the most encouraging feedback, which was that all the pieces I collect *look* like their material. This sounds obvious, but we as humans love to manipulate objects away from their material essence, which can end up feeling like over-designing to me. I guess this is why I am so drawn to both mid-century jewelry and ancient jewelry. I like pieces that reverberate their essence, that highlight and sing about the material used. It’s very intuitive and sense-based. Like how a beautiful stone you find on the beach immediately catches your eye, and you know it will feel amazing in the palm of your hand. I’m always thinking about how pieces will interact with the body and the skin when I’m collecting (or creating). I guess I’d say that a beautiful object - especially jewelry - always feel “true” to me, otherwise I don’t find it beautiful. It reaches out and tingles my spine with its truth.
Your field rings are such a treasure of an offering. Molded and cast from objects found along an ancient trading route, the rings worn by your customers feel as if they’ve passed through countless hands over centuries of history. What drew you to working with these ancient shapes, and what special elements do you hope they hold for your customers?
The Field Rings were my first foray into creating jewelry myself, and even as I’ve moved deeper into designing my own pieces and making lots of commissioned work, they still have such a powerful hold over me. These rings were cast from ancient objects found along Celtic trade routes in the Balkans, where my family is from. They feel heavy and quite literally pulled from the earth. They spark a familiarity in the brain - going back to your question about beauty! They’re imperfect and irregular and feel so at home when you wear them. Somehow the energy of the original pieces is transmitted into these rings. I’ve had so many customers tell me that they feel as though they’ve always been on their hand (the best compliment). That’s a really specific comment to get again and again, so something special is clearly happening there. It’s about connection and grounding and a connection to the passage of time that we know on a cellular level. But equally, they’re just nice, simple rings, haha!
Jewelry, like many heirlooms, can have a life beyond the one we live with it. There are always stories, whether we know them or not, that come with each piece whether it was passed down from your grandparent, picked up at an antique market, or otherwise fell into your lap. Can you tell us about your favorite piece in your personal collection, and what makes it so special to you?
My favorite piece does change and fluctuate over time, but for the past couple of years it’s been a long, sturdy gold wheat chain, on which I hand a few different charms: my engraved 14k letter “M” (for Mila, my daughter), which is a pendant I also make for the shop, a tiny little “Protect Me” charm that I picked up from Ursa Major many years ago, and a mid-century gold and ruby brutalist pendant. Sometimes I add other talismans on there as well, various pendants from family or that I’ve collected - it depends on the moment in life and what kind of protection on encouragement I feel I need. I know I probably present as more of a “silver person,” because I wear lots of heavy, big silver pieces. But I think of gold as my base layer - the pieces that are almost invisible, and just for me.
Among the many material and immaterial things our parents or loved ones pass down to us, some of my personal favorites are kindness, a unique laugh, or a generations-old wedding band. Can you share with us about your experience of motherhood? Is there anything you hope to instill in your daughter as she grows and paves her own path?
This is something I could talk about for days, so I’ll try to condense a bit! Motherhood really cracked my heart wide open, as I think it does for so many parents. I became both more gentle and fierce than I’d ever been before. Each day becomes measured by a new understanding of success, which is: did I hug my child enough, did I show her enough love, did I slow down enough to be present? I think these are wonderful measures of success that we can apply to life in general. But to your question about what I hope to instill in my daughter, there are so many things. Competing for first place are a desire to seek truth (or put another way, critical thinking), and kindness. She did win a character award for “Most Generous” at her school last year, and I don’t think I’ve ever been more proud!
Danica on Instagram: @danicastamenic
Danica online: www.danicastamenic.com
Photos by: Alyssa Soares @alymsoares