Peek in the back of Kathleen DiResta’s shop in Sea Cliff, and you may find her polishing a new piece of jewelry. Sometimes, she admits, it’s just pretty. Other times, it’s something more.
Her Lotus Leaf pendant, for instance, is inspired by the lines of a lotus flower, which in Buddhism “symbolizes enlightenment, purity and growth,” says DiResta. She believes the Zen qualities of the pendant can help a person feel grounded and improved clarity (if she adds a white topaz bead) or positivity (from turquoise).
East Moriches designer Rebecca Dolber’s crystal stacker bracelets address emotional or spiritual needs — smoky quartz, to increase intuition; or amazonite, “the stone of female warriors — always a hit,” says Dolber.
DiResta and Dolber revel in the “something more” of jewelry design, creating pieces that they believe do more than look good — they DO good, the women say, with special components reputed to help the wearer feel more inspired, energized, balanced, maybe even healthier.
THERAPY OR SHOPPING?
For some customers, this may sound too out there — perhaps more like therapy than shopping.
“It is like therapy,” Dolber admits. “People are pulled in by the color in a display, but they often open up to me.”
For other designers, the drive to create jewelry with purpose stems from personal strife.
Like Manhasset designer Simone I. Smith — wife of actor and rapper (and Bay Shore native) LL Cool J. Diagnosed with a rare bone cancer in 2004, she underwent surgery that left the lollipop tattoo on her leg looking “like someone took a bite out of it,” she recalls. She created A Sweet Touch of Hope, a line of lollipop pendants in that same bitten shape, as a way to inspire other cancer survivors, who are “some of the most resilient people I’ve ever met,” she says.
Then there’s 24ave, another Manhasset-based brand specializing in inspirational apparel and jewelry, run by North Shore natives Kerri Kahn, Francine Aulicino and Gale Federman. Back in 2013, Kahn, a recovering drug addict and alcoholic, was in search of a gift to celebrate the anniversary of a friend’s sobriety — and couldn’t find anything appropriate. The brand she co-founded now offers hand-stamped necklaces and bracelets with meaningful messages (like “ODAAT” — one day at a time). The brand has since grown beyond sobriety, with gear celebrating empowerment of all individuals.
This is jewelry that goes beyond the sparkle.
“Our mission,” says Federman, “is to provide customers with beautiful products and positive, inspiring messages to live their lives by.”
DO CRYSTALS REALLY WORK?
Yes, they’re pretty, but whether crystals — chunks of quartz and other minerals — can actually affect your health or mood is debatable.
“I’ve always been intrigued by crystals and gemstones,” says Oceanside jewelry designer Idayne Kaye particularly when it “comes from Mother Earth.”
Adherents believe energies in stones can interact with human energy fields, or chakras, but there’s no credible scientific research backing that up. Sensations people feel are likely a placebo effect — mind over matter, say scientists. But here’s the curious thing about placebos — they can actually work.
In a 2016 study, Stony Brook University neurologist Anat Biegon and colleagues found that 15 percent of patients responded to a placebo treatment; other studies go as high as 70 percent. So wearing crystals may not be so crazy after all.