Getting Moonstoned with Jewelry Designer Elizabeth Kranz
Elizabeth Kranz is a girl after our own roots — a South Western darling through and through. Elizabeth's artistry, manifesting in the form of hypnotizing jewelry, is inspired by the West and the rich history and ceremony that it offers. Elizabeth's jewels are more than body adornment — they tell a story. Each piece is as unique and captivating as the creator behind it, and that's saying a whole lot. Her delicate touch and selfless wisdom were immediately palatable when we sat down with her to talk the history of jewels, daily manifestations, and art as a drug...
What was the journey to The Moonstoned?
I grew up in a tiny town in New Mexico — it's called Demming. If you're driving through and you blink, you'll miss it. When I was a kid, we used to go on all these trips to the Native American Reservations and mission trips to help the communities there and I was really in love with the silver-smithing that they did and all of the turquoise and the coral and the culture and dances. I remember going to a pow-wow for the first time and witnessing that and I really starting to get into the adornments that they wear as part of their rituals and part of their culture.
I was studying silver-smithing and jewelry history in college, and during that time in jewelry history, I started learning about the European side of jewelry and all of the romanticism behind that — the Victorian era was all about lovers, and all the lovers gifting each other. And when someone died, they went into this deep period of mourning and would wear locks of the person’s hair, and big elaborate golden and enamel black pieces that have seed pearls to represent tears. It delves into this whole world of sentimental jewelry.
Now, today, everyone goes out and just buys whatever pieces of jewelry, right? There was that whole Tiffany’s blue box thing. And the thing is, that none of that has any real life or history to it, and all of this kind of native jewelry does. It just became an obsession of mine. Then, I figured out that I had to make this obsession something that I could pay the bills with, because it’s a very expensive hobby.
How do you go about conveying that sentimentally aspect in your work? Do you practice those things as purpose for your jewelry, or do you just use that history as inspiration?
Definitely. Most of what I do now, after studying gold-smithing and silver-smithing is that I find broken and bruised antique pieces so that I can give them new life, or fix them and shine them up a little bit. With each piece that I come across, I really try and find out more about it. Every single piece that comes to me is days worth of research and finding new things out, and finding out what else is out there that's similar. By the end of the time when I’ve finally put the piece up on the website, I almost don't want it to sell because I have such an attachment to it.
I think that's the best part — being able to share that stuff with other people, because people want to have an heirloom — something that, when you have a daughter, you can pass something down to her and tell her, ‘This ring is already 300 years old and this is what it means, and now you can pass it on.’ It has this huge story to it.
How do you flow through your work? Do you work on a piece by piece basis, or is there more of a collective story to the pieces that you group together?
They definitely just come to me. They come and go in waves and I'm always inspired by the pieces that I'm gravitating towards, like the antique pieces. And currently, I’m working on two separate rings that are inspired by antique pieces that I just love! I'm crazy about them and I had to track down a stone-cutter that could cut crystal quartz for the slides that are going to go on these rings and then I had to track down a really talented painter and ask him, ‘Can you paint things that are this small?!’ I love that whole process and making the molds and working with wax or working with metal and building upon that.
Pieces just come into my life and I definitely become totally obsessed with it until I can do something with it, and then move on to something else.
How do your South Western roots play into your jewels?
I feel like I sound like a broken record, but it just has so much history in it. These beautiful wide-open spaces with all these mountains and rivers and forests. And the sky looks different, the sunsets, the sunrises, the colors and the people have been influenced by that for hundreds and hundreds of years. They still hold on to that and it makes the best art — the best things are made with your hands, and I think, come from the South West. I might just be partial, but I don’t know…there’s something about being out there with that drive and the beautiful, expansive air.
As a desert girl with a deep connection to nature, how do you stay balanced in New York?
I'm as susceptible as the next person if I spend too much time in the city without a break. I find myself bumping into people on the street and I'm the first to be irritated about it or something. It’s funny, I was having coffee with a friend a few weeks ago, and while we’re getting up the guy behind me goes, ‘Can I take this chair?’ My immediate response was to be like, ‘Get out of my face…’ but I had to check myself and be like, ‘Whoa, I have to get out of here!’ I feel like when you’re confined in this city, it’s almost like being an animal that’s trapped.
It’s a beautiful, inspiring place and it definitely pushes you to your limits, which everyone needs. But I really started getting out of this city on a regular basis last year, and it’s totally changed everything for me. I’m way more positive, and focusing a lot more on the wholeness of me and my life and my business, instead of just focusing on one thing and being like, ‘You have to work hard, you have to get there, you have to run this race.’ I can step back and be like, ‘Oh, I don’t actually have to race with anyone. I’m good enough just doing what I love and focusing on that and going forward as a whole.’’ Getting out is so important.
Do you have any practices or rituals that you do every day?
Yes. I'm a total manifestation junkie. I wake up every morning, and I have these manifestations that I wrote down — a stack of twelve. I read them out loud to myself every day, and it’s so silly, but it’s so empowering. Sometimes, you feel like just saying things out loud is going to be really silly or you can be like, ‘Oh no it’s not going to work…’ but it absolutely does. Then, I write down my list for the day — things I need to do or I’m going to get done. I usually have like 30 things on there.
My New Year's resolution was to say something nice to someone every day, so if I'm on the train and I see someone who’s shirt I really like or something, I’ll say it to them. I feel like it’s a really good ritual for me right now because as much as you can give, you get. And I’ve seen a lot of success from that. When I first started doing it, I would wait until the train doors were almost about to close and be shy like, ‘I really like your shirt…’ and then run out. Now, I'm getting a lot more comfortable with it, and I think that in turn gives you more confidence in yourself to talk to people.
It’s funny, because I don’t know where New Yorkers — and I count myself as one of them now — learned this fear of other people. It’s such a weird thing. We’re all such victims of it and I feel like this is my way of taking control back. And little bit goes a long way.
I want to make other people feel comfortable and happy, and if I feel something, I’ll say it. I go to Equinox, and one time, I totally got busted checking out this other woman in the locker room because she was just so beautiful, and I thought, ‘Wow she’s in such great shape.’ She looked at me and instead of breaking away and being totally creeped out, I was like, ‘You’re in really great shape,’ and I was like beet red. She looked at me and was like, ‘Thanks you really are too.’ We had just one class together and I was like, ‘Oh, yeah, cool, thanks.’ It’s bad enough doing it with someone on the train, but it’s a whole other thing when you’re butt ass naked with other women in the locker room…
Do you have any advice for creative entrepreneurs just getting started?
I’ve been wanting to do this for years, and I remember people telling me, ‘Just do it, just get started,’ and I’d always be like, ‘I just don’t have the money or the time…’ I still don’t have those things, I still don’t have the money and I still don’t have the time, but you just have to do it. You just have to get it out there, and it doesn’t have to be perfect.
When I was building my website and teaching myself how to do a website, every day I was just like, ‘Oh it’s not good enough, it’s not right yet…’ and a girlfriend of mine was just like, ‘Why don’t you just fucking do it? Just get it out there. It’s not going to be perfect, it’s never going to be perfect. Get it out there and see what happens.’ I finally just did it and there was such overwhelming support and I sold out of half my stock. It was so cool to see that. Now, the momentum’s going and it’s getting better and bigger, even in just the few months that it’s started.
If I have any advice, it’s: no one’s looking for anything to be perfect. If you know you have something, if you know you want to do something, just do it. No one’s ever going to fault you for trying at all. I'm my own worst critic all the time. You just have to do it, and it feels really good.
Where did the name The Moonstoned come from?
I’ve always had really strong connection to the moon. I’m a cancer, so a full-on moon baby. I feel like, in my life, everything that’s really powerful and momental happens around a full moon. Also, jewelry and following my passion, it is kind of my drug. When you’re doing what you love, you do feel high in a sense. You do feel a little bit stoned when you get to do these really cool things all the time.
It all came together — I decided to launch the site on a full moon because before that, I had really come to the realization that this is what I wanted to do and I was going to do it on a full moon, and it just all fell together in that way.
What’s your idea of legacy?
I think that with The Moonstoned, it's all about appreciation — appreciation for these pieces that are one-of-a-kind and there's so much love and history behind a lot of them and a lot of them come to me broken or missing stones or things like that. I feel like it's really symbolic about a lot of different things in life. Just be appreciative and love these pieces of yourself, because they may not always come in a blue box with a big price tag, but they're perfect and they're original and they're individual. It’s like, these broken pieces can come to you, but it’s up to you to give them another life, another meaning. I think we all need to take the time to think about that in a lot of different ways.