Though Carla Caruso of Carla Caruso Jewelry graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design with a BFA in glass sculpture, she started experimenting with metalsmithing, incorporating glass jewelry into her work, and became hooked. Eventually, she abandoned glass altogether to pursue jewelry.
In 2001, she launched her own line of fine jewelry, incorporating motifs from nature, like leaves and “modern yet organic shapes,” she explains. “The Willow rings were one of my first designs and they continue to be one of my best sellers and a classic example of my work. Likewise, my original Blade of Grass pieces (the cuff, hoop earrings, and bands) have expanded into current designs like the Double Leaf collection and several engagement and wedding rings.”
Ed. note: I’m adding a new element dubbed Editor’s Take to this profile format to better explain my reasons for highlighting particular artists. I see a lot of jewelry, so this short explanation may help clarify my reasons behind selections, and where in a merchant’s array a line could fit.
Jewelry designer Carla Caruso (Photo: Chattman Photography)
Editor’s Take: Carla has simple and sweet-looking designs that will resonate across a wide audience while hitting a price point in gold (not easy to do). It’s handmade in the United States, and her bridal—a notoriously difficult category in which to innovate—is really pretty. It’s also a great giftable line, and later purchases will easily complement one another. Plus, I’ve heard great things about working with her and her line’s sell-through from a store in Brooklyn.
JCK: Tell me about your manufacturing and design process.
Carla Caruso: After sketching a new design I either carve the piece in wax or create it in silver. Then I send it to a company in NYC to be molded and cast, but I assemble and finish all the work in my studio. I hand-fabricate as well, including pieces like my dainty rings and hoops. Every once in a while I make my own clasps, although my chain and other components are premade.
JCK: Where is the jewelry made?
CC: Made in the USA!
JCK: What metals do you work in?
CC: I work mainly in 14k gold, but I also use sterling silver, 18k gold, platinum, and some palladium.
JCK: What stones do you work with and why?
CC: I primarily work with conflict-free diamonds and white sapphires. I think diamonds go well with the simplicity of my work, and white sapphires are a great alternative for engagement rings because of financial or ethical issues people sometimes have with diamonds.
I also incorporate freshwater pearls and colored stone cabochons in some of my necklaces and earrings and use rubies, sapphires, emeralds and a few semiprecious stones in several of my rings. And I’m happy to work with stones upon request.
JCK: How many U.S. accounts do you currently have?
CC: I currently have about 40 U.S. galleries carrying my work, plus a few catalogs like Sundance and Uncommon Goods. I also have three international accounts; my largest international market is Japan.
JCK: What jewelry shows do you exhibit in?
CC: At this point I only exhibit at the New York International Gift Fair.
JCK: What is your starting retail price for each metal you work in?
CC: Sterling silver stud earrings like the Button series start at $45 and my dainty rings start at $67 for a plain band in 14k.
JCK: Is there anything that you would like to add?
CC: My muse’s name is Lola (see photo). She works in the studio with me every day!
Carla Caruso’s muse and studio mate, Lola
Blueberry ring in 14k gold; $281
Graduated pearl necklace in 18k gold and oxidized silver features seven freshwater pearls; $281
Double Leaf pearl earrings have a blade of grass motif in 14k gold with freshwater pearls; $416
Willow Stacking rings in 14k gold feature two plain metal bands and one accented with a 0.03 ct. white sapphire; $438
Crossed Leaf engagement ring in 14k gold has a 0.03 ct. diamond; $528