Beth Yorn, the jewelry designer behind Elisabeth Bell Jewelry, has always had a fascination with nature and its animals, artifacts, and lore. Elisabeth Bell’s sensibility is a beautiful union of Beth’s East Coast upbringing and her current home in sunny Santa Monica, California. This duality can be seen in her work; much of it is inspired by East Coast traditions and environments. A former model, Beth has a truly hands-on approach of seeking beautiful objects while hiking or outdoors and preserving them in time as fine jewelry. Her work in white, yellow, and rose gold has incredible shine and dimension: each piece in her collection has its own personal history and roots to the earth. -The Stone Set
“I grew up in rural Connecticut. Our house was in the woods on nearly 200 acres backing the Appalachian Trail. As a kid, I would wander off into the woods with my dogs and find caves along the hillside. I would find all sorts of things, ranging from small animal bones to Native American artifacts. I loved the connection I felt to history and nature. I also volunteered at the Audubon Society in Sharon, CT and I was responsible for taking care of the injured and orphaned wildlife. There were wolves, falcons, turtles, and snakes to name a few.
There was a small crystal store near the town I grew up in. I would go to this enchanting little place with my mother (she also loved gems/minerals) and she would always let me pick a special stone out. I learned about unique crystals and their healing powers. Boji stones, octahedron fluorite, enhydro crystals, and mica were some of my favorites. Once I found a huge mica stone on our property. I also used to chisel garnets out of the rocks in my backyard.
I started buying beads and making necklaces for myself and friends. I moved to New York City in my early 20s and fell in love with the bead district. There were so many stones. I would go home at night and make necklace after necklace. Most of my friends still have some of those early pieces. One day I was at the Met and just fascinated by all of the ancient Egyptian jewelry. The craftsmanship was overwhelmingly beautiful. I wanted to learn how to make things like that myself. I was lucky enough to find a studio in New York called the Jewelry Arts Institute. The founder, Bessie Jamieson, was actually responsible for replicating many of the pieces in the Met Collection for their store. So I took classes and learned about the many layers of enameling, bezel setting, and soldering. It was really fun.
I later moved to California. On a road trip with my husband, we were stopped at a small mountain town in Colorado. There was a really cool natural history store and inside of it, the prettiest little ammonite and quartz egg. I looked at them and thought to myself that they would make beautiful pendants. As soon as I got back to California I had them cast. Slowly from there, I kept finding beautiful objects from nature that I thought would be pretty pieces of jewelry and that is how I formed the collection.
I find that the jewelry market is so oversaturated with people knocking other people off. Someone has an idea to make one thing and then designers jump on it changing it just enough so they won’t get in trouble. I try to create genuinely unique pieces and not just follow trends. My items are primarily organic and cast from objects found in nature. I like to work with 14k solid gold because it is strong. I also love baguette diamonds and anything emerald cut.
My trademark piece is my Bobcat Claw Necklace in 14k with diamond pave. I just created a Thorn Collection. I was in Germany last year and there was this giant tree with thorns all over it, unlike anything I had ever seen. I cast some of those thorns to create my new pieces and I’m so happy with how they came out. I just pierced my ears three weeks ago. Yes, 35 and I JUST pierced my ears. I played a lot of sports growing up and my mom was convinced I’d rip the earrings right out so she made me wait until I was 16 and then I stopped caring. But I made these Stingray Barb Earrings and I so desperately want to wear them, so that was that. I went to Claire’s with my husband and sister-in-law and got it done…and now I can wear my thorns also!
I’ve been fortunate enough to have some amazing celebrities wear my jewelry. It is always a treat when I turn on the TV or flip through a magazine and see Reese Witherspoon or Cameron Diaz wearing my jewelry. My Wolf Claw Necklace was in “The Other Woman” and seeing it on the big screen was really fun. When I founded the line, I told myself there was one store in the world that I really wanted to be in, and it happened! Having my collection with Rick and Kathy Rose at Roseark is a huge honor. It’s truly the most amazing store, and I love all the other designers that they carry as well.
My inspiration goes back to my days in the woods walking around or keeping my eye on the ground looking for arrowheads. I just love all of the beautiful shapes found in nature. I love the Natural History Museum in New York. I used to go there all the time as a kid. In school we went on a field trip to a quarry in upstate New York and dug for fossils. I found some and I was hooked. Last year for my birthday we drove out to the desert and went to Anza Borrego State Park. The whole area is an ancient sea bed. I hopped out of the car to take some pictures and littered across the ground I found fossilized coral and tons of small sea shells. We drove on through a place called Slot Canyon and I found an ancient oyster shell reef…again, in the middle of the desert. I just think that is the coolest: holding these little pieces of history in your hand. I was able to get T. Rex and Velociraptor teeth at a gem and mineral show. I cast them in solid gold as pendants, the T. Rex with diamond pave and the Velociraptor with a trilliant shaped diamond. I really love those new pieces. I’m a huge fan of Jurassic Park. What can I say, I love dinosaurs.” -Beth Yorn of Elisabeth Bell Jewelry
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Photography by The Stone Set.