Marin-based jewelry designer Lauren Harwell Godfrey stole our hearts.
“If you put something in the world, make it something different,” says fine jewelry designer Lauren Harwell Godfrey, who from her studio in Corte Madera creates modern gems that tickle our decorative nostalgia craving for a way we haven’t quite seen before.
Inspired by the symbolism of stones – forest jade malachite is a guardian for travelers while apple green chrysoprase encourages forgiveness, for example – Godfrey’s eponymous collection shimmers with pieces that feel powerful. It’s no wonder so many modern powerful women wear them: Harwell Godfrey client-fans include Kamala Harris, Cynthia Erivo, Thandie Newton and Ayesha Curry.
One might think of donning Harwell Godfrey jewelry as putting on a bit of armor. Crafted from precious metals and (often rare) gemstones sourced from around the world, her pieces are a refreshing break from the delicate jewelry that has been popular over the past decade. The line is a bold mish-mash of the designer’s favorite inspirations: the colorful abstract works of Swedish artist and mystical medium Hilma af Klint; the Egyptian renaissance of the 1920s; the decadence of 1970s rock and roll. Take for example her Stardust button star earrings, which resemble both heirlooms of ancient history and glamorous diamond disco balls. This eclectic, fashion-forward aesthetic reflects LHG’s personal style: while she loves glitter, she’s most at home in jeans and a t-shirt…with the jewelry stacked.
Lauren Harwell Godfrey’s jewelry designs reflect her personal style: a bit of glitz, balanced with a laid-back California vibe.(Christopher Stark)
The designer often wears hers rainbow pearl necklace-a playful piece that seems to recall a happy childhood but made adult with a mixture of agate, jasper, jade, mother-of-pearl, onyx, etc. The visionary. “I believe in not putting things in the safety box and never touching it – it’s all about carrying your stuff,” she says.
Like its birthstone, garnet, which most people always assume to be deep red, but actually comes in a variety of hues (like Mandarinwhich is said to bring success, enthusiasm, happiness and power), Godfrey is multifaceted. A graduate of USF with a degree in advertising design and art direction, she spent the first 15 years of her career working in advertising in a simple but passionless progression to the position of creative director. Not that she hasn’t learned a thing or two: ‘There’s a little project manager living inside me who does all my work,’ she laughs, crediting her years in advertising. fundamental business skills that will help him later. launch their brand.
But first, there was a move into the world of food, including enrolling in San Francisco Cooking School and even a plant-based cooking blog. During this time, she is passionate about the fight against food insecurity. This cause has found a major donor in the person of Harwell Godfrey, who is perhaps best known for his Charity Hearts pendants dedicated to the causes of LHG champions, including World Central Kitchen and the NAACP, who receive 100% of profits from pendant sales, totaling donations of more than $200,000 to date.
Harwell Godfrey’s Charity Hearts pendants have raised over $200,000 for organizations including Every Mother Counts, Human Rights Campaign and Futures Without Violence.(Courtesy of @harwellgodfrey)
“One day I was like, I don’t feel like making food today, I feel like doing something else,” recalls LHG who, following an instinct, got his start in jewelry by handcrafting sculptural leather necklaces. Then people started buying them. Designing jewelry became her way of testing texture recipes, playing with a placement of metals and stones to create something magical. But making everything by hand was extremely time-consuming, so when she launched Harwell Godfrey in February 2017, she decided to outsource production so she could focus solely on design.
In her new atelier in Corte Madera, where she performs personalized consultations, creates bespoke pieces and occasionally hosts trunk shows, her many global and local influences shine through. SF Noz Design helped stylize the space, filling it with objects Godfrey loves, like Moroccan textiles and African masks, while local decorative painter Caroline Lizarraga painted the walls a celestial purple with gold geometric accents. It’s both otherworldly but totally grounded (as is its jewelry) and decidedly West Coast in its laid-back confidence.
Originally from California, LHG is a former competitive equestrian and outdoor enthusiast. The natural beauty of her home country has always been a major source of inspiration for her designs, especially in her two most recent collections. Stardust, which evokes the constellations via diamonds, was conceived while she lived in Sonoma: “It’s so beautiful and the sky is very starry there; I was very inspired by that.” His Valley of the Moon collection, on the other hand, is full of intricate crescent medallions and was inspired by the birth of her son following the November 2016 supermoon.
As her friend and collaborator April Gargiulo (founder of Vintner’s Daughter) puts it, Harwell Godfrey’s pieces are “beautiful talismans to the wearer, imbued with a kind of healing energy.” And healing is important to Godfrey, who approaches his designs as a way to “find the answers to the universe.”
“I think there’s something about being creative that uncovers my connection to the universe,” she reflects, but then laughs. “I don’t want to take this so seriously, though!” [Jewelry] is a way to elevate, you know, to feel a little more.”
No doubt LHG feels a bit more these days. She was recently invited to become a member of the prestigious Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), a high honor in the fashion world. She was also featured in Sotheby’s exhibition of black jewelry designers, Brilliant & black: a renaissance in jewelry.
Looking ahead, she’s excited about what’s to come in her industry. Although historically exclusive, the world of jewelry is becoming increasingly diverse and eco-friendly.
// Find Harwell Godfrey jewelry onlocal retailers, including Hero Shop (Larkspur), Job (Valley of Hayes), and McMullen (Oakland), or make an appointment to visit the workshop in sending by e-mail [email protected]; harwellgodfrey.com.