California Dreaming: Jewelry Encounters From Big Sur to Venice Beach

I took the shortest vacation of my life last week. Over the course of three days, my boyfriend, Jim, and I drove from Los Angeles up the California coast to Big Sur, where we camped beneath the redwoods, took a nighttime dip in the hot springs at the Esalen Institute (recently made famous by Mad Men), hunted for jadeite at Jade Cove Beach, and met up with my dear friend, jewelry publicist extraordinaire Michelle Orman, for a Mediterranean feast in lovely Carmel-by-the-Sea. If you’ve never visited this part of the country, book a trip, stat. I’m not exaggerating when I say this stretch of coast offers America’s most majestic scenery. A drive along iconic Highway 1 is restorative in every way possible.

The California coast in Big Sur

Publicist Michelle Orman in Carmel-by-the-Sea

Jim holds the hunks of serpentinite we found littering Jade Cove Beach.

Alas, my timing was not impeccable. On Thursday evening, just as Jim and I were driving home from Paso Robles, a fantastic wine region located a couple hours southeast of Big Sur, members of the Los Angeles chapter of the Women’s Jewelry Association were gathering at the Todd Reed flagship boutique on Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Venice, Calif., for a “Meet the Designer” event, featuring a night of conversation between the pioneering fine jewelry designer and Los Angeles magazine style editor Linda Immediato.

Courtesy WJA

Los Angeles magazine style editor Linda Immediato and jewelry designer Todd Reed

I’ve been dying to check out Reed’s year-old boutique ever since I wrote about his plans for the store in our April 2014 issue. But I’d been waiting for the Boulder, Co.–based designer to come to town before scheduling a visit because I had my heart set on getting a tour from the creative genius who introduced the trade to rough diamonds and is now extending his brand of “raw elegance” to the men’s jewelry category. Just my luck to have Reed show up smack in the middle of my blink-and-you-miss-it holiday.

By all accounts, the evening went off flawlessly. Immediato spoke to Reed about his craft, his design process, the inspiration for his collections, and what we can expect from him in the near future. Looking at pics of the event, which show the audience of roughly 50 WJA members sitting on a beautiful terrace framed by towering palms, I can imagine what they were thinking: Reed—who earned the Human Spirit Award for his “exceptional generosity of mind and spirit” at the Couture show in Las Vegas in May—embodies a forward-thinking ethos that, despite his Colorado origins, is utterly Californian in essence.

Courtesy WJA

The terrace where last week’s “Meet the Designer” event took place

And even though I missed his appearance to have a forward-thinking experience of my own—the hot springs at Esalen are famously clothing optional and trust me when I say there’s nothing more liberating than gazing at the stars of the Milky Way with a dozen like-minded strangers, all of us in our birthday suits—I suspect Reed would have approved.