Anna Sheffield

WHO: Anna Sheffield — Gem, Jeweler, Earth Mama
WHY SHE’S FOXY: With her beautifully cool store on the border of the Lower East Side and Chinatown, Anna Sheffield welcomes the foxiest girls and wins them over with her delicate gems that look as powerful as they are pretty.

 


ON RELATIONSHIPS: "My mom and stepdad were high school sweethearts. They went to college, and she became a hippie. This was in the 1960s, during the Vietnam War. He was in military school and pretty much slated to go to Vietnam. He asked her to marry him, and she said no. They obviously broke up after that. She met my dad, fell in love, and was with him for a while. She met my brother’s dad. We lived out west, which was a totally different lifestyle. But she and my stepdad got back together in their thirties. He had never married anyone. He waited for her. He had taken the diamond out of their engagement ring and mailed it to her when I was born, so they took that stone when they decided to be together, put it back in the ring, and used that at their wedding. They’re still together. They’re magical. They’re so meant to be together. To me, it says so much about timing and how everything unfolds in the way it should. I love him. We have an amazing relationship. And I also love my dad. I get the magical, great gift of having two great dads."

ON CAREER: "I actually did a degree in sculpture. My emphasis was on metal. That was what I thought I was going to do, and I thought that on the side I would be a contract welder. I did that for a while. It’s very hard work for a small human. Big dudes do it all day, because it takes that much energy. I did that for a while, though, and, in addition to doing my art, I would periodically sit down for a little while and make a piece of jewelry. If I was stuck or if it was somebody’s birthday or if I just wanted to explore an idea, I would try to make it in miniature. Little by little, it just became more of what I would do. I would give it to people or put it in a little store on consignment and then it just became what I did. It was like the roller coaster, slowly ratcheting up. It was slow and steady. And then it was like, “Wooooo! This is what I do now.” It’s been 15 years. It’s crazy."

ON DESIGN: "When I design things, I have this refining process. I start and then I pare down and pare down, until it’s spare and classic. But it varies, depending on what I’m making. With rings, the person influences it so much. Sometimes, people want something that’s more elaborate and more engraved and more feminine. Sometimes, people want something that’s more decorative than my normal aesthetic is. But it’s always nice to do that for them, because it takes me out of my comfort zone. My natural tendency is to create things that are symmetrical and spare with just a tiny little twist that’s not quite normal—a flat prong, hand-set stones, odd-sized pavé."


ON HER BRAND: "I started [Bing Bang], my other jewelry line, when I was still in San Francisco in 2001. A year later, I moved to New York in 2002. I still do that line. It’s costume jewelry. I started Bing Bang first, and I’ve been doing that for forever—14 years. I started my namesake brand in about 2007. I had done diamonds for the first time when I did runway for Marc Jacob] in 2005, and then I did some fine jewelry for runway for Phillip Lim in spring 2006. Right around then, I started to work on my own line and sort of piggybacked it on those runway collections that we did together. It just sort of happened. You can’t really do everything under one brand. With a name like Bing Bang, there are limits. You’re not going to buy a diamond Bing Bang ring. I really wanted to do things that were a little more austere, I guess. It felt natural to evolve in that way and to do it under my name. It’s still fun—having Bing Bang. I enjoy it. But it’s a different animal. And anyway, I think there’s a natural relationship between them. A girl will be like, 'I love that baguette ring that you do for Bing Bang. Can you do that in diamonds?'"

 

ON KINDNESS: "I like to work with people who are lovely and kind and thoughtful and caring and universally good. As a person, I don’t like to work with people that are miserable or not nice. Life is too short. I just work constantly, pretty much. Between this and running the store and the brand and the manufacturing and all of the custom design and the new season design and the marketing initiatives and partnerships and legal stuff and operational stuff, it’s massive. So, it’s good to be surrounded by kind people."


ON HER SOUL PROJECT: "I grew up in the Southwest, and the first years of my life were spent on a reservation there. Everybody in the community wore Native American jewelry. I started doing a massive project that really draws on that. It’s been a huge undertaking, because it has several different components to it—sourcing turquoise, collaborating with this 100-year old trading post to get some of custom pieces. I’m going to sell all the pieces in the store together as part of one offering, and it’ll be like one-of-a-kind, so I’ll sort of just refill as they sell. They’ll all be completely unique. From the proceeds, I’m setting up a non-profit fund to channel through community foundations in New Mexico. It’s called the Heritage Project. I don’t need to do it. I want to do it. It’s been hours and hours and hours of research and writing. It launched, like, right now. I’ve wanted to do something like this my whole life, so to know that it’s just the beginning of this is so exciting."

 

ON LOVE: "I feel like I’ve always been a creature of love. I’ve always loved love. It’s kind of uncanny that I’ve ended up making engagement rings and wedding bands, because it wasn’t what I set out to do, but it’s such a proper manifestation of that desire to make things and be a proponent for love. I feel like union and marriage have changed a lot and I think the ideas of those paradigms have shifted so much—for me and for the world. There’s this evening of the playing field between males and females and straights and gays. That’s the most profound thing to me, watching this evolution and doing this work. There are no rules anymore."

 

FANTASY WEDDING: "Johnny Cash and June Carter. The ceremony would have surely been a riot of attendees, but also their love is one of profound acceptance and compassion, which is something to celebrate."

 

 

FAVE LOVE SONGS: "'Harvest Moon' maybe the most heart-string-pulling love song for me, but there are soooo many good ones. Nick Cave wrote at least a hundred, Sonic Youth has a few that qualify, Karen O, Bob Marley, The Ikettes… But the most listened to love song lately is definitely Gerry Rafferty, 'Right Down the Line.'"

FAVE LOVE STORIES: "Pablo Neruda, hands down. Even the sad ones are beautiful beyond belief."

FAVE ARTISTS: "
I don’t know that other people see it, but my background in sculpture is still very much in there in this work. I love Richard Serra and Andy Goldsworthy. I love Louise [Bourgeois]. I have a lot of sculptures in here from Hanna Eschel, who is an acquaintance. I love her work. It’s super spare—all nature and geometry. I love art. I look at way more art than I do fashion."

FAVE STYLE ICONS: "I have always admired the radical female, the true individualists, and iconoclasts like Vivienne Westwood, Coco Chanel, Blondie, and Lauren Hutton. There are so many great ones it’s hard to narrow down, but those are a few."