Jeweler Maria Beaulieu has a keen eye for rock collecting. "For me, it's all about the stones," says the Maine native. "I find inspiration in everything from 123kt aquamarines to Argentinian agates to tumbled beach pebbles. I try to find the most exquisite specimens and then set them with just enough gold to highlight their natural beauty."
Beaulieu has been making jewelry since she moved to New York in 1990. After working as a production assistant for Ted Muehling for 9 years, she started her own collection featuring faceted gems: Brazilian amethysts, heliodor beryls (a golden gem), Burmese moonstones, dazzling spinels (a kissing cousin to sapphires) in shades from light peach to ruby reds and royal blues, pale pink morganites (an aquamarine relative), to name a few. She usually frames the stones in a backless 18kt gold setting so that both sides are visible. She has even been known to set a cabochon upside down. "Stone setters think I'm crazy, but sometimes the color is more saturated this way."
The combination of exquisite stone and refined settings adds up to a collection of breathtaking rings, bracelets, necklaces and earrings. The naturally occurring marks in a golden rutilated quartz pendant resemble a lock of hair is suspended in the stone. The rounded rectangular links of her signature 18kt gold chains offset the streaks of pyrite (fool's gold) running through a large oval turquoise cabochon pendant.
Many of the gems dangle from 14kt French-style ear wires, although a few are on posts. She uses 18kt gold with a few exceptions in sterling silver. All of the 18kt pieces made with castings contain "green" gold that has been recycled and refined, rather than newly mined.
"I strive for simplicity and elegance in my work," says Beaulieu. "I want my work to complement the person wearing it. I like the idea of creating a piece of jewelry and letting it out into the world to become part of another's life. Ultimately, I'd like to share the beauty of the gems I discover with other people."