World’s wonders inspire jewelry designer’s art
Jewelry designer and former Hinsdale resident Susanne Siegel works on "My Treasure Chain" in her Chicago studio. | Michael Jarecki ~ for Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 1, 2012 12:46PM
For artist Susanne Siegel, inspiration is found in the temples perched on Cambodian mountaintops and deep in the diamond mines of South Africa.
India’s street markets, Japan’s cherry blossoms and Cape Cod’s sunsets also stir the senses.
Siegel would know. With the world as her muse, she’s trekked far and wide in search of splendor from which her exotic, high-end jewelry collection is based.
Siegel, 43, formed her business nearly a decade ago at the prompting of her mother. She credits her parents with instilling her love for international travel.
Siegel, whose home and studio are in Chicago, grew up in Hinsdale. She also spent one formative year of her childhood living in Germany. At 5 years old, Europe became her family’s backyard, and they didn’t hesitate to explore.
“They created this wanderlust for the world at large and different cultures,” she said of her parents.
The natural environment and man-made monuments of the places Siegel has visited gave her a template for design. Not to mention an appreciation of exotic gemstones.
Siegel’s collective experiences abroad are reflected in her array of delicate earrings, chunky rings and layered necklaces that contain colorful gems.
Gemstones’ special meanings and gorgeous tones made them perfect for Siegel’s work.
To better assess her products and understand the science behind their look, Siegel studied colored stones at the Gemological Institute of America.
All of her handcrafted work contains stones that are personally bought, not ordered online.
“I need to touch, feel and see the quality and color,” Siegel said, noting her favorite gems are labradorite and tourmaline.
Siegel said she doesn’t design according to trends. Many of her pieces are a contrast of textures with complementary colored gemstones.
“I design based on the colors that speak to me,” she said.
Mothers and brides
Her two custom-order specialty lines also feature precious stones: SweetPeas birthstone jewelry for moms and Something Blue bridal jewelry for wedding parties.
The birthstone-necklace line was created with both of Siegel’s parents in mind: “Sweat Pea” was a childhood nickname given by her dad, and Siegel’s mom shared her daughter’s love and appreciation for jewelry.
Each SweetPea necklace features the mother’s birth-month gem on a delicate chain. The birthstones of her children dangle alongside her own in order to stay close to the wearer’s heart because, as Siegel explained, “there is nothing more important to (a mother) than her kids.”
As for travel, Siegel said, it continues to play a primary role in her personal, as well as professional, life.
“You never know where you’re going to find something beautiful,” she said.
Jewelry by Susanne Siegel can be found at the District, 11 E. First St. in Hinsdale, and online at