Designer Profile: Miranda Hope of Viva May Jewelry

Monday, December 17, 2012

-What made you become a jewelry designer? Is it something that you have always been interested in?

In college, I studied sculpture and my work tended to be large metal pieces that were meant to be worn on the body. I also found myself attracted to the jewelry department where I could focus on more detailed, small scale work.  I appreciated the craft of jewelry, but I wanted to marry it with the rough experimental aesthetic of my sculpture work.

After college, I took an apprenticeship with an amazing jeweler in northern California named Paula Brent. She taught me to bend the rules of jewelry making to suit my own aesthetic. I moved out to NY in 2010 and the line of jewelry I was working on began gathering momentum quickly. It has been an amazing opportunity to create a job out of something I really love to do.

Sometimes I joke that the whole jewelry thing is just an excuse to buy loads of beautiful, shiny crystals.

 - What was the "It" moment that made you move to New York?

After college, I moved north to my hometown for two years.  I worked hard to pay off student debt and saved money so that I could move somewhere.  I was considering LA, but I wasn't sure it was the best fit for me. I visited in NY in the winter of '09 to see friends living in Williamsburg. I was totally blown away. I had been to NY before, but hadn't connected with the city. I kept walking around the neighborhood saying, "I could live here!"
I had a lot of friends from California who had moved out to NY so it wasn't as intimidating. I could see the potential to create a job doing jewelry or sculpture.

 - When designing new pieces, where do you get your inspiration from?

My work is very much inspired by ancient crafts of Eurasia and South America. I have spent probably the equivalent of five days straight in the Met and the Museum of Natural History looking at renaissance brooches, medieval repousse helmets, ancient Egyptian collars, and Incan earplugs. I like things that have small imperfections and a feeling of timelessness. A lot of my work looks like something that was pulled from the burial tomb of an ancient culture. For me, something that looks handmade is always more interesting than something perfect and machined.
... And I want my ashes sprinkled in the gem room in the natural history museum. That place is amazing.  

- As a jeweler and sculptor what do you find the most rewarding about your job?

I really enjoy being my own boss. I appreciate being able to dictate my own schedule and determine the aesthetic of my work. I also really love creating pieces of sculpture that will be used by someone. I like knowing that each piece will be worn on someone's body and that it will be something they cherish, like a sort of personal talisman.

- Being that you do everything from the design, sales and advertising where do you find time to recharge?

New York can be a particularly exhausting place.  It can be easy to get sucked into work when you are your own boss and live in the same place that you work. I feel guilty for not being "at work" all the time, but I find that my work is much better after I take the time to go and enjoy the city and friends. It makes returning to the studio a pleasure instead of a burden.

- Is there a particular stone or material that you enjoy working with the most?

Well, I obviously love gems and minerals. I have an ongoing love affair with Phantom crystals. They are formed over millions of years as one crystal grows on top of another and encapsulates the first smaller one. You can see the ghost image of the older crystals inside. Sometimes as many as 7 or 8 ghosts are visible layered throughout the crystal. I love materials that tell a story about the earth and reflect the passage of time and how long it took the earth to create the piece. That’s why the raw gems and minerals are much more interesting to me than faceted beads. I like seeing the organic element of the materials and understanding how they were formed. Most of the rock hunters I source materials from are geologists who are interested in the scientific element of the stones. I get a lot of background history from them about each piece and that makes me adore each piece even more. 

 - What sets you apart from other jewelry designers?

I think most jewelers are trained not to let their hand be visible in the work. You are meant to file and polish off any evidence of the hand in traditional bench jewelry. I like seeing the handmade element in my work and thus fore, I leave traces of that. It works with the rough nature of the stones I use. I also find very unconventional methods of setting stones. It's unusual for jewelers to work with uncut rounded shapes, but that's part of the challenge for me. 
I've also found an interesting niche of using high-end jeweler's techniques with more affordable materials. I use mostly brass so my price point is lower, but I put a lot of work into the pieces and each one is unique and hand formed. You don't see a lot of people doing that with brass. Precious metals have become so expensive that it limits who can buy it.

 - What is the best advice that you were ever given?

Kind of obvious but- Follow your heart. Dishonest work is boring so make the thing of your dreams:)

- What advice would you like to give to other aspiring artist?

I would say don't edit your ideas. Just make what you naturally make and don't worry about the outcome. You can always talk yourself out of every idea you have, but if you follow through to the end it will often take you places you couldn't have imagined at the get go. You will learn the most if you dive in and experiment. 

Train with someone you respect: Find a mentor. 
You never know what will be useful in the future and you must have honed your skills to make good work. So train your hand in many things and keep it in action.

Also, Find a way to work every day. Find a way to make it pay. Sell your work on online or in fairs. Get it out there and get past the fear and anxiety of showing your work to total strangers. If you don't do it now it only gets harder. Document all your work. Have a website or somewhere people can find your work online. Talk about it, you will learn abut the direction your work is going by having a conversation with someone. Take chances:)

Miranda's Super Sweet Cat Jose Relaxing In Her Studio :)

Be sure to check out her webpage, Facebook and Etsy Shop
To inquire about any of the pieces that you see here please contact Miranda at


  1. This jewellery is so beautiful! I am in love with the rings and necklaces, so very very talented. Thank you for sharing. Also just to say I just stumbled upon your blog and I have just spent a good hour reading through your posts. I love the diversity from page to page! x


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