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On Our Radar: LiZu Jewels

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fda Photo Credit: From left: LiZu Jewels bracelet, $175; earrings, $169; necklace, $229

She’s crafty — and she knows it.

Creating one-of-a-kind, handcrafted statement pieces is the mission of New York-based designer Lisa Caruso, of LiZu Jewels — whose pieces are made from vintage gems and stones, as well as Swarovski crystals.

We caught up with the designer at The Market NYC (268 Mulberry St.), where she sells her jewelry.

What was your main inspiration for creating LiZu?
My grandmother. I used to play with this crystal necklace she only wore on special occasions. As I grew up, I was always drawn to jewelry that was unique and not worn by hundreds.

What's your creative process like?
Many times, I dream about a design or think of them as I’m winding down to go to sleep, then will sketch them out. In other cases, I’m inspired by the gems: their shape, color and how they will work with other materials such as the chain or interesting findings I’ve sourced. I am also inspired by trends I see, and create designs that have elements of those trends yet have a timelessness about them.

Where do you find your materials?
I have a couple of trusted suppliers for my gems and some of my basic supplies, but I do like to visit antique stores, thrift shops and gem/bead stores when I travel.

How long does it take to put together one piece of jewelry?
Anywhere from one to eight hours. It really depends on the intricacy of the piece and also the fact that I'm a perfectionist with each piece. Each piece is individually handcrafted by me, so a lot of love goes into each one.

Are you creating anything special for the holidays?
For the holiday 2010 season, I've created a limited-edition line in sparkling Swarovski crystals called The Caterina Collection. An homage to my grandmother who inspired it all, The Caterina Collection is only available this holiday season with a range of beautiful chandelier and vintage Swarovski crystal earrings and bracelets.

Can you explain the name LiZu?
My grandmother called me Lizu as a child. Interestingly, I didn’t remember this until after she passed away in 2001, and when I remembered, it inspired me to actually put a name on my art, and an art that she inspired.

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