Lynn Okura Bey knows her way around a jewelry metaphor or two. As a fashion writer, she's been interviewing tastemakers and scouting out beauty tips for the past ten years (including, full disclosure, for Chicago), but her love of fashion writing isn't just about crafting the perfect phrase. “A part of me will always be a writer,” she says. “But another side of me knows that the reason I study fashion so closely is because I have my own desire to design and create.” Lynn recently chose to write part time so that she could focus on her own jewelry line, which launched earlier this month. Kono & Sono is a nod to her heritage—the name means “this and that” in Japanese—and the line hits that sweet spot between affordability and long- lasting quality. Here, Lynn tells us about her gems in her own words.
What made you decide to finally take the leap and start your own jewelry line?
I've worked as a fashion and beauty writer for the last decade, and I've interviewed plenty of designers in my day (Diane Von Furstenberg, Tory Burch, Michael Kors). Their passion is so intense and something I could relate to. I began to think that maybe it was time to do something with all of the designs I'd been dreaming up in my head.
I started taking classes in the evenings and fell in love with metalsmithing immediately. I've spent the last few years honing my craft, and recently, started to feel like “it's now or never.” I took a risk and scaled back my job to part-time status (which meant giving up this very column, sadly) and dedicated myself to designing jewelry.
Where do you find your inspiration?
I'm really drawn to sculptural forms and hand carvings. Most of the pieces in my line are sculpted by hand before they are cast into metal, which gives me a lot of room to play. I love creating organic and geometric shapes, then adding in details like etchings and carving marks.
What's your favorite metal to work with? Your favorite stone?
My favorite metals to work with are bronze and gold. Bronze is a gorgeous metal that gets even better with age, deepening into a golden hue. On the opposite end of the spectrum is gold—expensive, but so worth it. I use 14k gold-filled chains because they don't tarnish or wear down, and 14k gold-filled ear wires because they're great for sensitive ears. For years, I avoided earrings because my ears are super sensitive, but gold is the one thing I can wear without any problems.
As for stones, my favorite at the moment is lapis lazuli. It's this amazing deep blue stone with natural formations of calcite and pyrite—up close, it reminds me of a swirling galaxy.
You use a technique called Lost Wax Casting. What exactly is that?
Lost wax casting is an ancient technique that's still practiced today. I start with a block of wax and use carving tools to sculpt my design. This part of the process is the most fun for me—I'll spend hours chiseling away to get just the right shape. A mold is made of my wax carving and heated in a kiln to burn out the wax—hence the name. Molten metal is then poured into the mold, which hardens and cools. Finally, the piece is ready for me to file, sand, and polish.
I use lost wax casting in most of my jewelry designs because I love the creative freedom of this technique—anything you can dream up can be turned into metal. It's like this magical, alchemical process.
The Kono & Sono line is now available for purchase at konoandsono.com, with free shipping through December 15 with code KSFREE. Lynn is also throwing a trunk show at Camden Boutique (106 West 2nd St., Elmhurst, camdenboutique.myshopify.com) on Friday, December 19 from 5 to 9 p.m.