Her story is an interesting one: Former archeologist becomes high-end jewelry designer with a prehistoric aesthetic. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves …
It all started in Monmouth County, New Jersey. Young Loren Teetelli grew up riding horses, enjoying art—especially painting—and excelling at science and math. In college she studied art history, anthropology and archaeology—the perfect combination of her passions for art, math and science.
She chose to focus on pre-Columbian archeology, specifically that of the Andes. “I quickly fell in love with the people and their stories—how they lived and traded, why they made things and how they made them,” says Loren, who went on numerous digs in Central and South America and attended field school in Peru.
“I’m a collector, so I tend to form strong bonds with objects—not so much the finished product but what the objects represent.”
She earned her bachelor’s degrees in art history and anthropology and worked as a conservator at the American Museum of Natural History and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. While those jobs gave her amazing life experiences, something was happening that would steer Loren away from her intended pursuit of a doctorate degree in South American archeology.
Change of Pace
During college, she had begun experimenting with making jewelry. While working as a conservator at the museums, the more she saw various ancient metal objects, the more she became curious about how they were made.
To satisfy her curiosity, Loren sought out instructors who specialized in ancient metalsmithing. She studied centuries-old artisans’ tools and techniques and began to craft pieces of modern jewelry with a historical influence. Once again she had found a pathway that perfectly combined her interests.
Jewelry was becoming her full-time job, and Loren realized that she was also ready for a change of residence. She moved to Los Angeles in 2015 on a whim, having never even visited previously. In August 2016 she launched Loren Nicole—a collection of ethically sourced 22K yellow gold and gemstone jewelry that she creates in her South Bay studio. She also takes orders for bespoke jewelry, a process she enjoys because it allows her to better engage the person who will wear the piece.
Made by Hand
As she creates works of art for her collection, Loren explores historic jewelry-making and metalsmithing techniques from societies all over the world. She uses the same technologies to make her modern designs that would have been used thousands of years ago. Currently she is exploring ancient Egypt, which she showcases in her collection Nebu: Sands of Gold—inspired by that civilization’s motifs.
“I practice these ancient techniques in order to capture the spirit of historic civilizations.”
“While I ultimately chose not to become an archaeologist, it is still a love of mine,” she explains. “Jewelry has become a way to share that love with people and hopefully get them interested in our shared history.”
Loren creates slowly—by hand—without the aid of modern technology, including electricity. She doesn’t even turn on lights during the process. “Very few people are working this way,” she shares. “I practice these ancient techniques in order to capture the spirit of historic civilizations.”
While Loren’s methods are inherently sustainable, she takes extra efforts to ensure that the gold she uses is either recycled or sourced conflict-free. In fact, she is a featured designer in a newly released book, Bejeweled: The World of Ethical Jewelry by Kyle Roderick, that explores how jewelry is becoming a medium for social responsibility and ethical values.
“Ethically sourced jewelry has become a priority in today’s luxury market,” Loren says. “When purchasing one of our pieces, you can know that the materials went toward supporting a fair wage, healthy working conditions and sustainable mining practices.”
Most of Loren Nicole’s business is currently wholesale, but plans are in the works for a new atelier in Downtown Manhattan Beach. “The jewelry will be on display alongside artworks from some of my favorite artists and a studio for people to see how my works are made.”
In the meantime, Loren is planning and creating her next collection for 2020 and exploring the South Bay with her boyfriend. They frequent Tower 12 and Granny’s Grocery and Deli and occasionally escape to the Spa at Terranea or Getty Villa Outdoor Theater productions.
“I am so happy with the move,” Loren shares about her life in the South Bay. “While still in a city, I get more of that small-town community feeling. I love how friendly the neighbors are and how involved people are with local events.”
Whether delving into long-ago tools and techniques or enjoying the good vibes of Southern California, Loren has certainly found her place in the sun and is happy to share the wealth through her art.
Loren Nicole | Hermosa Beach | 424-262-7319 | loren-nicole.com | Instagram: @lorenNicoleJewelry.