Absence makes the heart grow fonder, that’s what they say. That sentiment has never been truer since I moved away from the beach, 12 years ago (wow!). And now, during a time when a summer vacation sounds positively daunting, I’m yearning for some time there. I can practically feel my feet buried in the sand, hear the gulls screeching and the waves crashing, and feel the sun beating down on my shoulders. I even welcome the occasional obnoxious beach neighbor whose ball or Frisbee strays across our blanket and the odd smell of fish that the sea sometimes brings in. I even miss the burning of the sand when I forget to wear my flip-flops to run to the car (every darn time) and complaining that I’m too hot and bored and that this was a terrible idea about an hour in.
I paint a finicky picture, and that’s my relationship with most beaches (though certainly not all—looking at you, gorgeous and perfect North Shore of Hawaii). But the fact is, I want what I can’t have, as do probably many of you at the moment. But, one must make do, and so we do what we can to keep on keepin’ on. For me that looks like quiet, meditative moments with atmospheric ocean sounds in the background. Open windows that let the breezes in right before a storm comes through (summer thunderstorms are just the best). Scrolling through old photos of past beach trips and a life lived long ago—and beach jewelry. Yeah, beach jewelry.
Fortunately, there’s quite a lot of beachy styles to choose from, what with shell jewelry making a serious comeback in the last couple of years. Puka shells of the ’70s (and ’90s) are passable even today, but there’s been a broader reach where jewelers are finding renewed and glorious ways to turn these gifts from the sea into something not only wearable but also able to fit into the fine jewelry category.
Officially making its debut today is the Aurelia collection from Los Angeles–based brand Washed Ashore. Founded in 2015 by Larada Lamsam, Washed Ashore makes jewelry inspired by nature using sustainable materials, and this collection is no different.
While the line utilizes postconsumer abalone shells, it’s more abstract than the picture I chose to paint of puka shells and the like. It doesn’t scream “beach” or “ocean,” rather it infuses those vibes (and materials) into its fairly subtle yet highly in-demand styles—just the kind of lightweight, no-fuss jewelry you’d actually want to wear at the beach (so long as you’re careful with it, that is).
In recycled 14k gold and silver, shimmering stations composed of abalone shell, sourced from Thailand as a by-product of the food industry, glisten along chains, on rings and earrings. Recycled diamonds or white sapphires accent the pieces, reinforcing that fine jewelry label.
The styles are simple enough to mesh well with others, but in their simplicity, there’s a seductiveness that has you thinking maybe they should be worn alone. Maybe it’s the long lanky drop earrings or the way that abalone accent dangles down the back of the choker necklace. Whatever the reason, these feel so well suited for summer—whether that includes time at the beach—that one should be hard-pressed to resist adding at least one of these pieces to their collection.
Top: Costa choker necklace in 14k yellow gold with abalone and diamonds, $2,660Follow JCK on Instagram: @jckmagazine
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