We are living in a new golden age of handmade jewelry, and we have one surprisingly humble material to thank for many of its most inventive designs: polymer clay. An affordable, approachable, and uniquely malleable medium, it’s rapidly broadening horizons for new and experienced jewelry makers alike, who are finding freedom in its open-ended possibilities (and wide range of vibrant colors and finishes).
From architectural shapes to soft silhouettes, polymer can take nearly any form—and all a completed design needs is some time in the oven to make its shape permanent. “I love being able to create small collections of one-off earrings using polymer clay,” says Australian designer Heidi Helyard. “It allows me to keep pushing my boundaries and never create the same thing twice! It keeps me creatively motivated to try new techniques—and that means my customers always get a truly unique piece of jewelry.”
Read on to discover more shops that are forging fresh creative paths with polymer clay.
Tiny Tropics designer Ally Creighton’s contemporary creations, largely inspired by abstract artwork, effortlessly transition from the office to a night out. Her curving, monochromatic pieces would pair just as flawlessly with a party dress as with a simple button-down shirt and trousers.
Eri, the Greek creative behind the jewelry line Eried, sculpts delicate and precise interpretations plant life, informed by her architecture background and her eye for balance and restraint.
Subtly speckled color-blocked designs are the name of the game for this Australia-based seller, who uses geometric brass elements to add structure and shine to her compositions. And their bright, festive tones make them the perfect accessory for summer, providing an instant shift to a tropical state of mind.
If we didn’t know better, we’d guess that Rinat Reuveni and Michal Kagan’s modern, minimalist polymer clay designs were actually crafted from concrete or stone. (Style tip: Their chunky beaded unisex necklaces make for a cool contrast with the tiny oxidized silver studs this Tel Aviv-based shop also offers.)
Mixed-media earrings. Multi-finger rings. Polymer clay-and-resin bib necklaces that could have come from a history-museum case. A combination of asymmetry, exaggerated shapes, and experimental finishes are what set Portugal’s TRYstore apart.
The rounded edges, whimsical squiggles, and candy-wrapper colors of Heidi Helyard’s polymer clay pieces bring a Wonka-esque joy to any jewelry box. The Australian artist also uses carvings and impressions—and sometimes even thick strokes of impasto-like paint—to add texture and movement to these already-captivating creations.
Rather than making polymer clay the centerpiece of its work, Spanish brand DeUno applies mosaic-like segments of the colorful clay to niches within airy, laser-cut wood frames. Some finished pieces evoke insects’ wings or stained glass, while others resemble delicate honeycombs glinting with liquid gold.
While UK-based shop Nadege Honey draws on a range of influences, from crisp Breton-striped shirts to milky enamelware, we’re particularly partial to its Memphis-inspired POP line. Created to celebrate Nadege’s 10th year as a business, the collection spotlights appropriately cheerful pinks, yellows, and blues, set off by smatterings of black dashes.
The Brooklyn-based designer behind 2×10‘s signature process—pressing different colors of clay together in a ball, rolling the malleable marble out flat, and cutting the resulting sheet into multi-hued shapes—ensures that each individual piece boasts a wholly one-of-a-kind character. Consider them guaranteed conversation-starters.
You know that necklace you reach for day after day without even thinking? The one that works with just about every outfit you own? Well, New Jersey maker Eliza has a whole shop full of them. Her handmade clay beads, enlivened with just a hint of metallic glitter and hung from simple leather cord, are likely to unseat (or perhaps layer up with) your current everyday go-to.