Diane Dorsey's Signature Stack


Diane Dorsey is a metalsmith from a town near Santa Fe, New Mexico. I first saw her work in person at Metalmark, a fine jewelry store in Denver, and was immediately drawn to her rings. They are beautifully crafted and easy to stack. They are also easy to wear because they have an organic texture and a soft matte finish. The stack that stuck with me included imagery of an egg, a clover and a staurolite. Diane shares her inspiration behind these designs below! 

This year I’ve been thinking a lot about the role luck plays in our lives. As we all do I believe. What is it? Does it exist? Is it a just a meaningful coincidence? Many of my new pieces are inspired by luck, and its symbolism in many cultures. This trio of rings is my talisman of luck, prosperity and abundance.

I draw a lot of inspiration in my work from minimalist artists of the ‘60’s - one of my favorites is Agnes Martin, whose studio and home was just down the road from where I lived in Galisteo, New Mexico. Like Martin, I look to nature to inform my expression of the purity of everyday life. And, as an architect, as well as an artist, I’m drawn to sculptural simplicity for its honesty and clarity of form.


On Eggs

I have a long and winding obsession with the egg. I’ve always been drawn to the form…it’s elegant and simple lines, and the myriad of egg shapes varying with each bird. And, beneath it all, it’s deep symbolism. For me, it’s the ultimate symbol of birth and creation, fragility and strength.

On Staurolites

I first came across a staurolite on a visit to Taos, one of the few places in the world where they can be found, deep in the Sangre de Christo mountains. Struck by its pre-historic nature but ultimately, its modernity as well as its symbolism as a talisman of luck, I began to collect and then use them in my antique beaded work. I cherish the originals as a muse for carving my own staurolites out of sterling silver and 18K gold.


On Clovers

As a child growing up in Ohio I used to lay in the vast fields of clover surrounding our home and search endlessly for four-leaf clovers. They represent a deep attachment to ‘place' and peace of my childhood. I’m ever grateful and elated for the trip from ‘there’ to ‘here,’ and of the simple beauty of a four-leaf clover.

My signature stack, rendered in gleaming noble metals, with shapes symbolic of good fortune become a nested trio of tangible affirmations.

A Gift Guide

Ok, so I know there are endless gift guides this time of year. The last few days (Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday) have overwhelmed me with deals and options of where to spend my money. I avoided it all. Mostly because I am broke, meaning all of the money I am earning is going into the house Chris and I are renovating right now. Also, I prefer to do my holiday shopping at thrift stores. No joke - you can find awesome things! My holiday shopping lasts for months as I search for the perfect items and I love wrapping a big pile of random, yet meaningful, gifts for my family. I find it much more enjoyable that way, because honestly, comparing my bank account to what I would love to be spending on each person can get stressful. This year, however, with our move and my unfamiliarity with the best local thrift shops, I am way behind. So below I've gathered items I've gotten or would like to get for friends and family on my list - each is under $500. And, it's jewelry heavy, of course. One more thing - I skipped the guys - their gifts are boring and I've found that they are fine with new socks or a six-pack of their favorite microbrew.

Click each image for more information and commentary.

Monica Marcella x A Thousand Facets

I was digging through half finished blog posts (I know, I know, I need to stick to a schedule) and I came across an interview I did with Moncia Marcella and Joanne, the jewelry lover behind A Thousand Facets. Monica recently created a custom ring for Joanne using a special stone cut by the one and only Top Notch Faceting. These gals have a true admiration for each other and worked together on designing the piece - the result is stunning. In the recent, much-needed, spirit of communication and togetherness, I thought this would be great to share! Also, I hope it inspires you to collaborate - on anything - but hopefully something sparkly.

Joanne: I'd been talking to Top Notch faceting for couple of months, I wanted one of his stones since the first time I saw his work and he was kind enough to reserve some time for me, just in time for my birthday. I've been wanting a Monica Marcella ring for a while as well. Her work is beautiful, timeless and her craftsmanship is impeccable. She is someone that is very passionate about her work. If you meet her, she exudes the most positive energy and love of anyone I've ever met. I knew owning a piece made by her would have part of her heart. That was really important to me!

Monica: I do a lot of custom work, it's such a treat because I get to work directly with someone about the project start to finish. This was an especially wonderful experience because Joanne really knows and has a passion for jewelry. She is a veritable encyclopedia, she knows genres and makers and she also knows how to fabricate and make jewelry. She understands the process from the beginning to the end. It was such a pleasure working with someone who truly understood all the steps it takes.

Joanne: I had a vision in my mind of what I wanted it to be, but I wanted Monica to give me her input and show me her ideas. We went diamond shopping together and bought some beautiful diamonds from Rough Diamond World to compliment Top Notch Faceting's zircon.

Monica: We spent an afternoon together picking out diamonds- can you imagine a better way to spend an afternoon? I knew this was going to be a sparkler of a ring so I suggested we add some leaf shaped shields that I fabricate. She agreed that these would give the eye a place to rest in the midst of all the bling. She was so patient and gave me plenty of time to sit with the stones during design.

Joanne: Monica is a sweetheart to work with, she let me be very involved in the process, I would say something and she would expand it in a more beautiful direction. That was amazing, I would just have to say one word and she ran out with it!

Monica: I was very excited to get to work with a friend for this special set. But I have to admit, I was nervous! The zircon is such a thrilling stone cut so masterfully, I just wanted to do it justice and make Joanne happy. In the end it all went perfectly, all the stones behaved themselves as I set them and Joanne was over the moon when I delivered the rings.

Joanne: I LOVE the finish product, it came out so much better that the original idea I had!! And now it has the option of adding more stacks. I love collaborating with designers, I've had couple of collaborations during my "blogging" life and is something that makes me so happy! Being able to work with an amazing designers,give and take input, and come up with a piece of wearable art that will surpass generations, is one of the most rewarding things in my life!

Monica: I'm thrilled with the end result. Making this a two ring stacker set was something I had not planned at the beginning but as the project progressed it seemed like a very natural answer. She can flip the rings and the result will always be a new composition.

Silver is Coming

Elisha, the lovely lady behind Art Adorned, started a movement to showcase silver jewelry and asked me to participate. She wants to create a community for silver lovers to share their collection.

As you know, this blog is called 'STAY GOLD' and I tend to prefer bright yellow gold, however, I do also love silver. I mean, I love jewelry in general and often gold can be a bit out of my budget. Also, several of my favorite vintage pieces are silver. So, I have accepted the challenge and will be sharing silver every Sunday using the hashtag #SundaySilver. I hope you join in too!

And now for some of my favorite silver designs...


Recently I read Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk by Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain. The book tells the history of punk by sharing memories, thoughts and stories from the people who made it happen. The narrative starts with the formation of The Velvet Underground and the influence of Andy Warhol in New York City at the time. It continues through the 70s, ending in the early 80s and featuring memories from legends like Patti Smith, Lou Reed, Debbie Harry, Iggy Pop and Joey Ramone, to name a few.

Passion for music and art as well as an appreciation for weirdos and misfits shines through so many of the interviews. And, of course, there is much talk about drugs, especially heroin, but the stories weave together, pointing out the negative effects and loss of so many talented people. Reading this made me feel like I was in it, like I would have fit in. Funny enough, I was emailing with the lovely Kimberlin Brown and she recounted her friendship with Joey Ramone, because she was one of those misfits that fit into the punk scene back then. She said, "Joey Ramone was sweet, sincere, humble and shy but had a huge presence. An outsider, geek that created an entire genre for the world!"

That's what I really loved about this book - I got to better understand many of my icons. A must-read, especially if you love music.

And now for a short playlist - listen here.

  1. Pale Blue Eyes - The Velvet Underground
  2. Personality Crisis - New York Dolls
  3. Looking at You - MC5
  4. Lonely Planet Boy - New York Dolls
  5. See No Evil - Television
  6. I'm Waiting For The Man - The Velvet Underground
  7. I Wanna Be Your Dog - The Stooges
  8. Blitzkrieg Bop - The Ramones
  9. Gloria (In Excelsis Deo) - Patti Smith
  10. Marquee Moon - Television
  11. Alison - Elvis Costello
  12. Judy is A Punk - Ramones
  13. X-Offender - Blondie
  14. All Tomorrow's Parties - The Velvet Underground

Island Living

My aunt and uncle have a house on Great Harbor Cay in the Bahamas and I was fortunate enough to be invited to visit - with Chris and my parents. As someone who is constantly connected, it was odd to be in a town of less than 300 people with limited internet access. And, as if that weren't enough, my phone crashed during the trip. I was truly disconnected. I'd love to tell you that I found peace, let go of my stress and completely enjoyed the time, but then I'd be lying. However, it was an interesting experience and much of my time snorkeling, swimming and reading on the beach was incredible.

I'm back. September is here. There are so many good things coming up in the next few months. STAY TUNED.

Some photos from my trip are below! XO

Lingua Nigra

Alicia, the designer and maker behind Lingua Nigra posted a bold gold necklace with vibrant beetle wings on Instagram and it came up in my feed. I needed to know more. Turns out, Alicia is a cool chick with an incredible sense of style. Although we haven't met in person yet, she has an energy that radiates throughout the interview below and all of her designs. Her jewelry is balances rough and refined as well as new and old perfectly. The pieces are textured, but plated in bright 22ky gold. They have a old world feel, but are also very modern. Keep reading to learn more about Alicia!

The Beginning

I’ve been creating jewelry since I was a child! I started with making these beaded earrings and selling them in the 6th grade, but took a sort of hiatus a few years after that until I was in college at FIT studying Fashion Design. After I graduated from the program, I moved over to the Jewelry Design program. I just knew that the fashion world was not where I would want to end up professionally, although I had absolutely no game plan for where I would end up with jewelry! There really is a such thing as destiny.

The program I was in was hard and tedious. It was 4 semesters packed into 2. I was the worst student, mainly because I had two jobs, so I was tired all the time. I wasn’t able to be creative, I was just barely able to understand the process and complete (most of) the assignments. The only time I was able to do any work was in the middle of the night at the school studio. You can’t do that anymore. What good times me and my friends had!!

Anyway, after I graduated, I worked for some really talented designers, including Philip Crangi (pre-CFDA days) to name a few. That time in my life was really about just learning and soaking things up. 

It was around 2003-2004 when I was able to finally create my style for my own jewelry. I would use my boss’ bench after hours and I started to cold connect coins from my travels. I would also reticulate brass (my favorite thing to do when I was in school!) and make really simple shapes from the sheet I reticulated. It was all about a process for me.

The Process

I usually make some really rough sketches. I’ll always have something in mind, and it’s always just for me. I love body jewelry and stretched ears, so I’ll draw up some different ways to make ear weights, or I’ll draw a wall hanging I want to make into a necklace. From there I’ll sketch a little more. If it’s a cutout (like my Mane of Gold earring) or something similar, I’ll scan the drawing and clean it up in Illustrator. I’m all about an “organic” process, so even if things are symmetrical in my design, they rarely are when I execute them onto metal. 

I’ll almost always have some kind of texture to my pieces, so I’ll either etch the piece or already have reticulated the metal. Sometimes I’ll have a large piece of reticulated metal and I’ll just cut out shapes and layer and make a section that I’ll want to cast over and over again. 

I don’t use a ton of stones in my work, I wear a ton of color, so I don’t really need it in my jewelry. That being said, when I do go for color, I try to find unusual things to work with. For instance, I have corn beads that look like turquoise (because they are dyed). I also use jewel beetle wings in my work because…nature.

I also love malachite and lapis. I use those colors all of the time when I do want to add a bit of color to something, but I with the exception of the jewel beetles (and my amazing collection of other beetles for jewelry), I don’t start my process with a stone.

The Inspiration

Nature. I know a lot of people say that, but it’s so true!! 

I love nature and I love a beautiful forest or park, lots of green everywhere. I love that things can look so similar, but every single thing is unique in it’s own way. I usually only work with one shape in a necklace or earring, but I’ll repeat them over and over again. It’s like how a tree has leaves. The leaves all look the same, but each one is uniquely different. 

The process of etching and reticulation is “controlled” but also very random – you don’t know what you might get after everything.

Personal Collection: The pieces I wear almost every day are the Hand of Trinity necklace, the Small Poetic Gold Hoops, oh and my bangles!! I wear my bangles each and every day!! A lot of people know that I love Victorian (and Georgian) era jewelry. I am so fascinated with death talismans and keepsakes and talismans in general that I love a good Mano Figa charm. The Victorian Era wasn’t just the British creating these wildly beautiful, odd things, but what everyone else nearby on the globe was doing as well. I own a lot of figas but regularly wear 2 tiny coral ones around my neck on a gold chain. I always wonder who wore them before me and how they got here.

I also wear a green plastic ring from the 60’s that my aunt owned. She was the only living sibling of my mother’s 8 brothers and sisters I ever knew so it makes me feel close to her spirit.

Daily jewels: I always wear my bangles.  Always. I also wear a ring I made with a stone that was cut by a person who passed away a few years ago. He was a dear friend and gave me a box of his lapidaried stones when I told him I was majoring in Jewelry Design. When he died his daughter gave me a ton of stones he cut because she knew I would love them. I have fire opals, opals, slabs of malachite. I mean! I chose a really pretty bloodstone cabochon he made for a really pretty ring I carved out of wax. 

I also wear a rather large pair of ear plugs (or spacers). The pair I currently wear are made of goldstone. Lots of people think they are just really large post earrings!

Favorite Designers: Oh man. That’s such a big question!! I don’t follow a lot of folks, but I will say that my favorite designers in the jewelry world are Art Smith and Harry Bertoia. Both created these amazing pieces of art that happened to be jewelry. Both were masters of the simple shape and silhouette. They really made creating beautiful “clean” jewelry look very easy.

Other than jewelry: When not designing I like to learn more about everything!! The other week I was telling a fellow jewelry designer that I wanted to perfect my belly dancing, but I also want to learn Karate and take up kickboxing!

Right now I’ve been on the quest to perfect my Spanish. Recently I visited Guatemala for an intensive Spanish course. Trust me, it wasn’t a vacation!!

In general, I like to do the most because life is so precious. I’m always trying to learn more about the craft of jewelry making every day, but in between I’m also trying to be a better belly dancer, photographer, karaoke singer, Spanglish speaker…you get my point!

Currently listening to: Oh my, I’m such a music junkie! I listen to a lot of older stuff so I’ll just go in my hat and say I’ve been listening to a lot of Candi Staton. That voice!! That pain!! These days since I work solo a lot I listen to podcasts to pretend like I have co workers!

I cannot wait to see these beauties in person and meet Alicia at the Capsule show in September! Also, if you are local to Chicago, don't miss a trunk show on Sunday, September 4th at An Orange Moon in Wicker Park. For more info visit her website or Instagram.