Since 2009, women who love chic, edgy jewelry have beaten a path to Marion Cage (3719 Magazine St., 504-891-8848, www.marion- cage.com) for contemporary pieces inspired by nature and architecture. Now designer Marion Cage McCollam is seeing a new subset of customer: unconventional brides and grooms.
McCollam's recently launched collection of wedding rings includes the work of two other jewelry designers, Carla Caruso and Rebecca Overmann. They are her friends and contemporaries, and like McCollam's, their pieces are powerful and minimalistic, with organic inspirations evident in their elegant simplicity and flow. "Carla's is more dainty; Rebecca's is more sculptural," McCollam says. "Our styles really complement each other and our work is cohesive."
Though their styles are their own, the three designers' offerings can be worn together, even stacked on the same finger. Overmann's eye-catching bands evoke water, stone, leaves and bark, while Caruso's have details like tiny dots and scalloped edges. McCollam's wedding styles include stackable bands of small brown or black diamonds set in white, yellow or rose gold or black rhodium.
"It's a nontraditional approach to the wedding ring," McCollam says.
McCollam designed jewelry for years before she launched her shop. An architect, she began making jewelry to vent creative impulses frustrated by the constraints of the building business. "A lot of architects need an outlet," McCollam says. She got her start from clients who owned retail shops and asked to carry her work. That led to her first collection, Totem, made of polished wood and precious metals. "I like making things with unex- pected materials," she says.
Other collections followed, including Arabesque, inspired by ornamental Persian tile; Point, with metal and wood talons, bones and barbs; and Sliver, her latest collection of gracefully carved stakes, spears and spikes.
There's even a "Canine" collection — engraved dog tags in brass or white bronze — inspired by the artist's Rhodesian ridgeback, Whistler (who is at the shop as often as McCollam is).
All of McCollam's jewelry pieces are cast in fine metals from original prototypes and sent to professional casters. Some are made from hard wax sliced with a sharp knife; others are sculpted in clay; still others use computer-assisted design to create a pattern, which is then laser-cut in metal. McCollam's background in design, architecture and graphic art contributes toward a distinctive style.
Later this year McCollam will launch a hardware collection of pulls and knobs. As for her bridal collection, McCollam is heartened by the response so far.
"People are really liking the fact that our jewelry looks so different," she says. "They can customize, they can mix and match, they can have something that truly suits their own style as individuals and as a couple."