When award-winning jewelry designer Alexis Kletjian announces that her guiding word for 2019 is “creation,” the word that best describes her collectors around the world is “anticipation.” She’s been generating excitement and surpassing the high expectations of her loyal collectors, including celebrity clientele, for years. In 2018, she opened her first brick-and-mortar gallery—on State Street in Kennett Square.
Kletjian considers it an honor to be part of telling people’s stories through the jewelry she creates and sources for them. And because what she creates comes from her heart, her designs often tell part of her own story, too.
Designs from the Depths
Kletjian’s soul-inspiration for her new Seaside Collection arises out of her love and longing for the sea. She loves the Brandywine Valley, where she relocated with her husband and two children several years ago, but she’s found herself missing the water in her native New England and reflecting on her memories of spending time at the ocean. “This collection pays homage to my love for the water and to my passion for preserving this vulnerable habitat,” she says. The collection also reflects a fresh creative impulse. “I’m known for streamlined, monochromatic designs,” she says. “This is more like an explosion of color, a natural following of my instincts to think outside the box.”
The Seaside Collection stars ocean-themed motifs and one-of-a-kind jewelry featuring gemstones sourced ethically from around the world. Kletjian has incorporated the rich colors of Peruvian opals, coral, and turquoise in these highly anticipated pieces. There are starfish, anchors, turtles, stingrays, and more.
Each sea-inspired piece has a story, and one of Kletjian’s favorites is that of the Kemp’s ridley turtle, the smallest and most endangered species of sea turtle. Kletjian’s husband, Garrett, is a pilot and passionate about helping to save these turtles that are at risk from a variety of threats. He’s been involved in rescue efforts flying Kemp’s ridleys from the New England Aquarium, where they received emergency care, to new habitats. Kletjian was inspired to design tiny turtles, some with diamond-encrusted shells, to draw attention to these critical conservation efforts and to celebrate the resilience of a species fighting to survive.
Another piece in the collection, the stingray, ripples in undulating silver, seemingly liquid and fluid as the sea itself. The stingray is the mascot of Seacrest Country Day School in Naples, Florida, andtwenty percent of the proceeds from stingray sales in 2019 will benefit the school’s unique enrichment programs. Legendary National Geographic oceanographer Dr. Sylvia Earle was presented with the first stingray pendant when she led an educational program for students at Seacrest. The entire Seaside Collection launched in January at an event in Naples to benefit the Conservancy of Southwest Florida and their work to protect Southwest Florida’s water, land, and wildlife.
“Your jewelry,” Kletjian says, “is forever.” She doesn’t pay much attention to trends, she says, because the story of the person wearing the piece is unique and enduring. She designs everything—from her now officially trademarked “Shield Yourself” shields to her first engagement ring, which she’ll launch this spring—with this in mind. She’s designed one setting for her engagement ring, for example, that fits every one of the gemstones she’s been collecting for years in anticipation of the right timing for this design. “It’s one ring, and it’s forever,” she says, “with no design boundaries.” All of her designs are available in silver, gold, and platinum. She never designs to a price point, she says, but she’s mindful of offering pieces at different levels to give everyone the opportunity to build a collection they love.
Necklaces Which Tell Your Life Story
—Honoring Who You Are & Where You’ve Been
– ALEXIS KLETJIAN
Kletjian also loves to help people look at their jewelry collections and enjoys collaborating with them to redesign and re-envision what they have. “I do lots of talisman necklaces,” she says, “which tell your life story—honoring who you are and where you’ve been.” She’ll add pieces she’s known for, such as her shields, as well as charms in precious metals and beads, to create something new that has harmony and balance. Through this process she develops strong bonds with her customers, telling their stories in legacy pieces that will be passed down. “They represent what they represent to you forever,” she says.
A Year of Balance: Opening Doors in Kennett Square
Kletjian’s word of the year for 2018, as she embarked on the new venture of opening her gallery, was “balance.” As the mother of two young children, she’s played with her schedule to establish gallery opening hours that work for her family. The 24/7 accessibility of email and social media enables Kletjian to be anywhere and everywhere. “I’ve built my business for the way we live,” she says, “and my business reaches beyond these four walls. Someone might say, ‘You’re not open,’ but I’m always available to give my customers the service and attention to detail that I’m known for.”
Kletjian has also sought ways this past year to be a valuable and productive member of her new community. One way she found to use her story and talents to give back in Kennett Square was through a unique fundraiser she designed for YoungMoms. Kletjian grew up in a household with a single mom struggling to make ends meet, and she was inspired to find a way to help when she heard about the work of YoungMoms. She collaborated with fellow business owners to create the First Annual YoungMoms Holiday Stocking contest. The overwhelming success of this fundraiser was powered by story. Kletjian wrote a powerful blog post sharing her own story, and the donations began flowing in—from a growing network of local business owners, from shoppers buying raffle tickets, and even from people further afield who wanted to support YoungMoms. Hundreds of tickets were sold, and Kletjian was delighted to have to print more.
Beyond raising much-needed funding for the program, Kletjian also wanted to honor each of these young women for their strength and courage. So she presented each mother in the program with one of her trademark shield necklaces. “It’s my hope that these shields will become their armor and inspire the passion to pay it forward one day, if and when they can,” she says. The shields are being engraved for each recipient, and Kletjian is meeting with these young women one-on-one to hear their stories and encourage them. “It’s important to invest in the future of females in our community,” she says, “to lift them up now and give them the skills they need to reach their potential.”
Back to 2019: A Year of Creation
Kletjian’s artistic process involves accessing her imagination to catch an idea, give it life, and release it to the world. Her background in the fashion industry, in pattern making, enables her to see an idea in pieces. “It’s like a pattern in my head,” she says. She puts it together, to perfect scale and with stunning artistry, and the piece finds its home with a collector, where it lives to help tell another chapter of their story. As she focuses on creation, she looks forward to helping to tell even more Kennett Square stories this year.
*Please note: All Photos by Alexis Kletjian.