When Maya Brenner met Jessica Herrin in 2005, they instantly discovered they had a lot in common: Both women were new moms, both had young businesses, and both had a desire to have a long-lasting impact on the jewelry industry.
Brenner was an independent jewelry designer at the time, but the idea of collaborating with Herrin on her pitch for a new company was thrilling, Brenner says. Their friendship and working relationship helped build Herrin’s Stella & Dot until the two went their separate ways nearly a decade ago.
Now, they’ve come back together for another collaboration in hopes of not only recapturing that original magic but building on it for a new collection. Brenner says the six pieces in the Maya Brenner x Stella & Dot collection let the wearer mix and match with symbols such as Brenner’s favorite arrow shape that have an even deeper meaning in this current moment.
For example, that arrow-shape On the Mark necklace was Brenner’s most iconic piece when she was head designer for Stella & Dot, from 2005 to 2013. For the new collection, which launched last month, Brenner decided to add a curve to symbolize how life, with all its changes, requires you to bend with the times.
“It’s the right collaboration and the right design,” Brenner says. “I needed to do it. I wanted that spark again, to feel like I was at the beginning of something—and that’s how it felt back then with Jessica.”
The arrow is a design that goes back to her roots, Brenner says.
“I always want to create something with meaning, which means it has meaning especially to me. An arrow isn’t always going to go straight or where you might expect. But when you pull an arrow back to launch it, you hope it will go somewhere great,” Brenner says. “We’ve all been pulled back so much over the past few years, I felt like it was time to launch into what’s next.”
The Maya Brenner x Stella & Dot collection has prices that range from $39 to $149 and includes gold- and silver-plated options. There are two bracelets in an interlocking chevron pattern, one with a thicker chain and one that’s more delicate; two necklaces, one with a tricolor chevron and the other with a pendant that is a curved arrow; and two pairs of earrings, including one convertible set.
Brenner says her design process for the collection started with her own jewelry, in that she looked to see what she was missing and what she felt like her legacy at Stella & Dot could include. That translated to chunkier pieces as well as the mixed metals.
“Having been in the business a long time, having the experience, and having a certain number of years on the planet, I know that anything goes. There are no rules with jewelry,” Brenner says. “You absolutely can mix metals, and I wanted a piece for people that said, ‘Here’s how.’ I wanted to give them the piece that could tie it all together.”
Brenner is a noted jewelry designer in her own right, especially well-known for her asymmetrical letter necklaces and state pendants—one of the most popular being the Bi-Coastal necklace that represents New York with an apple shape and California with the state’s outline.
“I’ve always designed for what I wanted to wear,” Brenner says. “I was a social worker in New York, working full time and making jewelry on the side. It was the way I relaxed after my daily stress. It allowed me to enjoy my creative side.… I just kept making jewelry for myself, and people started to react to my work.”
Top: Maya Brenner (left) and Jessica Herrin are working together again after nearly a decade for a new Stella & Dot collection. (Photo courtesy of Stella & Dot/Vivien Killilea Best)
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