Designer Spotlight: An Interview with Jewelry Designer Herndon Heald

Ok, so technically Herndon Heald isn’t just one jewelry designer. Herndon Heald is actually three talented individuals and their dedicated staff: Mark Herndon, Naomi Herndon, and Jeri Lynn Heald Ingram. You get 3 brains creating collaboratively for the price of 1! I’m not the only one swooning for their Satellite ring or Tidepool earrings: these and other designs have been spotted on celebrities Cameron Diaz and Audrina Patridge.

The Designers of Herndon Heald

Mark, Naomi, and Jeri Lynn met while working for a Santa Fe jeweler and continue to work together in their studios in Austin and Santa Fe. What is extraordinary about their jewelry is that every detail is manufactured by one of the three designers themselves, who are all bench jewelers, or their talented team of craftsmen. And I mean EVERY detail, down to each hand-hammered paillette or jump ring, is handmade. It’s quite remarkable and shows a certain approach towards jewelry that exudes care and craftsmanship.

Detail of necklace by Herndon Heald

The Jewelry

The jewelry designs of Herndon Heald are primarily defined by the metal work that the studio does. They use interesting techniques, such as forging, hand-hammering, and anticlastic raising to produce their forms. Consequently, their metal designs have a richness of texture that is very unique in the marketplace. After the metal is crafted, the details are layered on, such as tumbled rubies or seed pearls.

Herndon Heald 14k Gold, Ruby and Seed Pearl Novia Earrings, $332 Retail

The Interview

idazzle: How did you all meet and when?
Jeri Lynn: Naomi and I met in 2006 when we were both working for a jewelry company in Santa Fe. We immediately felt a connection and discovered that we had grown up just a few minutes from each other in Fort Worth, TX. We became fast friends and started Herndon Heald with Mark in 2007.

What drove you all into jewelry making and design? Was it meditated or serendipitous?

Naomi: Mark and I studied sculpture in college and for us it was a natural progression – everyone wanted to make stuff bigger and we wanted to make things smaller.
Jeri Lynn: It was serendipitous for me. I made jewelry here and there during my college years, but it was when I spent a year in Prague and fell in love with the glints of gold on the blackened statues and the spires dotting the bohemian sky that I was inspired to devote myself to jewelry. I moved to Santa Fe, apprenticed with a goldsmith, and met Mark and Nao.

Herndon Heald hand-forged 22kt yellow gold and sterling silver fluted cuff, $1354 Retail

Readers should know that you all are jewelry MAKERS as well as designers. How does your knowledge of jewelry making impact your designs? Do you think that designers who are not jewelry makers are at a disadvantage?

Naomi: Mark, our technical adviser for our company, is a very skilled metalsmith. We draw something out or talk about it and he can figure out how to do it. That being said, my skills set is one where mistakes and failed designs are a regular occurrence. But that means happy accidents happen and some of our signature touches have come from those happy accidents.

Mark: I think it is quite an advantage to understand your medium. When you understand the properties of a material you can push the material to its limit. For example some of our pieces rely on the work hardening of the metal: they must be hammered and would be impossible to cast.

Jeri Lynn: Having an idea of the potential of the materials is quite valuable. I also think we’re really fortunate to be three. Three different skill sets and three different interior landscapes creating three different visions – challenging sometimes but really advantageous.

Herndon Heald hand-hammered silver Satellite Ring, $105 Retail

Who do you have in mind when you design your jewelry?

We are inspired by the authentic women that we see everywhere – on the street, in our travels, in our personal lives. We design for them. And for us.

Your work spans a variety of materials, from silver to rose gold, and gemstones from pearls to rubies. 1. Do you have a favorite material? 2. Something new you would like to try?

Naomi: 1. My favorite material is high karat gold. My wedding band is 24kt. The Aztecs, the Romans, I could go on… everyone through time and cultures has used high karat gold for ornament. Its just the best for me -there is nothing like it. 2. Since there are 3 of us, we all come to the table with new things and then we figure out how to combine them. Right now, I am getting into Gorgets which were originally armour – steel or leather collars designed to protect the throat, so i have been looking at those. Mark over the summer went to study with a master engraver and has been practicing and working on his engraving skills. Engraved gorgets for holiday sound good to me!

Jeri Lynn: 1. High karat yellow gold is my favorite to wear and to work with – deep yellow 22k or 24k, but I almost always wear it with rose gold as well. I love the combination. 2. Mark made my wedding ring out of Damascus steel – it beautifully contrasts the high karat gold. I’d like to work with it more and introduce it into our Herndon Heald line.

Stack of 5 Herndon Heald 14kt rose gold rings, $580 Retail

What’s on your bench right now?

Jeri Lynn: Countless paillettes. Heaps of them!

Where can people find your designs? Is there any place to see them in person?
Our website is www.herndonheald.com.

We are also in some great jewelry galleries around the country – Katy Beh in New Orleans, Eliza Page in Austin, and Silverado in Bend to name a few.

Thank you so much, Mark, Naomi and Jeri Lynn for giving us some insight into your designs! I absolutely LOVE what you are doing, and the direction you are going. We’ll be watching and waiting for some Damascus steel and deep yellow 24kt Gold combinations, and engraved gorgets!

In the Studio: Mark, Naomi and Jeri Lynn of Herndon Heald

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