A version of this previously appeared on southmag.com.
Kristen Baird may not have always known she wanted to do jewelry design for a living, but one thing she did know is that the South is embedded in her soul, and to this day, her Southern upbringing is the basis for her inspiration.
After graduating from the Savannah College of Art and Design in 2012 with a bachelor of fine arts in Jewelry Design, Baird trained under Blaine Lewis, master jeweler and former lead stone setting trainer at Tiffany & Co. Here, she honed her craft and in 2015 she returned to Savannah with her unique skill set to open her own fine jewelry business, Kristen Baird Jewelry.
It’s no surprise that Baird and her company have since become award-winning, gaining praise from National Jeweler and the American Craft Council, and even having celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey seen wearing her jewelry; her unique, high-end aesthetic derives directly from the environment in which she was raised and she strives to reflect the energy and beauty her community sends her back to them.
“It’s an interesting combination of organic and architectural,” Baird explains. “It’s very reminiscent of the outdoor area in Savannah. My goal is to distill the essence of Savannah into my work.”
The architecture in Savannah has high significance to the community, and from which Baird’s inspiration runs wild. Romanesque Revival and Gothic Revival styles—both prominent in the historic district—can be recognized in many of Baird’s rings and bracelets.
Just returning from an artist residency in Lacoste, France, in collaboration with SCAD, Kristen’s work now contains a touch of Provence-style as seen in her Bonjour Belle collection available at kristenbaird.com. Turns out the Kristen thrives in southern areas whether it be Southern France or the South that she was raised in and loves so much.”
Baird has even been able to keep her Southern morals intact as a businesswoman, putting an emphasis on sourcing materials that are only ethically accrued.
“No blood diamonds, no shady practices,” she emphasizes. “The materials I use follow strict international certification processes.”
A majority of materials she uses are sourced from the South, however she does work with vendors and suppliers from all over the world. But with those international materials, she is still able to use her skillset to form those materials into the spirit of the South.
Hold one of Baird’s amethyst duo ripple rings under the Savannah summer sun and you might just see a memory of loved ones sitting on the back porch, fireflies surrounding you, and sweet tea being sipped reflecting back at you.
To learn more, visit kristenbaird.com.
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