When you think of porcelain, a few things might come to mind: tea cups, dolls, vases, and…jewelry? Yep. “Porcelain is the white gold of clay,” says Boston-based designer Kimberly Huestis, who throws and carves the durable material into shapes resembling sea urchins, waves, and nautical chains for her marine-inspired jewelry collection, Porcelain & Stone. “My dream was to work with porcelain because it has such a great history,” she says, noting her own half-Taiwanese heritage.
More than her heritage, though, it was Kimberly’s personal history that sparked her pull to porcelain: the designer is allergic to nickel, a metal found in most inexpensive jewelry, and porcelain is completely hypoallergenic. After working her way through pricier precious metals, DIY braided jewelry, and even a jewelry-free period growing up, Kimberly discovered her ultimate jewelry medium in ceramics, and she hasn’t looked back since. “When I launched Porcelain & Stone in 2012, there was nobody out there doing the same thing because people didn’t really see porcelain as jewelry,” she says. “Just during the last year, I’ve noticed a ton more porcelain jewelers out there—and that’s awesome.”
Still, that’s not to say Kimberly won’t ever wander into working with porcelain in a more traditional way. “I love making cups for fun. It’s my secret passion,” she says. That, and ramen bowls. “Because who doesn’t love a ramen bowl? You can put anything in it. Soup. Popcorn.” Maybe even jewelry?
Read on to learn where Kimberly finds her inspiration and shop the collection.
How did you did decide on porcelain?
When I was a kid, I had a lot of skin issues because of nickel; I would always have reactions to belts and watches. Sometimes I’d be given nice jewelry as a gift, but nice jewelry was boring. It got to the point where I wouldn’t even look at a jewelry store because it just made me sad. So I went without wearing it for 10 years.
In high school, I started learning how to braid—I was all self-taught because there was no YouTube then—and I was figuring out hemp jewelry and working with leather straps. I wanted something cool that was different; everyone else was wearing Tiffany, and I didn’t quite identify with that.
Around that time I picked up rock carving, and I was actually pretty natural at it. It just made sense to me—probably because I had played with clay since I was five or six, and I’ve always liked ceramics and been very hands-on. I was the weird kid who would find a rock and want to hammer it open, like, “Maybe it’s a geode!”
Where did the nautical idea come from?
I had a coastal upbringing—well, more of a lakeside upbringing. I used to love skipping rocks with my dad and sister. (Again with the rocks thing!) Most of my inspiration comes from a love of and interest in coastal locations. There’s tons of mystery in the ocean, and it’s endless. I also love the textures. That’s how I got into photography.
You’re a photographer, too?
I shoot all of my own photos for the site. It’s really important to have little micro-obsessions. I call them micro-obsessions because I go through phases, like right now I’m really interested in plaster painting and painting with resin. That’s just for my fun time—you’ve got to do something kind of different, or hang out with people in a different venue, because that’s where inspiration comes from. It’s those random ideas of combining things in new ways.
How did you choose your palette?
My palette is definitely based on the coastal elements. Before, I would sometimes be influenced by the seasons, and work with red for the winter and in February, especially. But I’ve really stopped doing that. It’s cute, and I don’t want to be cute. If I hear that something is cute, it better be a tiny piece! My color palette now is about being minimal and identifiable. That way, it’s the sculpture of the piece that really stands out.
What’s been your biggest challenge in starting the line?
Mostly overcoming my desire to make crazy things; I’m all into the funk and weirdness. To make something that’s a little more classic and clean, that’s not my personal style. For me, it’s been a constant exercise in creating a minimalist but coastally inspired collection. I’m challenging myself by making it simple but, hopefully, different.
What’s next for you—besides ramen bowls?
I’m very interested in expanding. I invested in a large kiln last year, so now my studio has four kilns—it’s amazing! I’m basically a kiln collector.
Photographs by Porcelain & Stone.