Designer Spotlight: An Interview with Caleo Fine Jewelry

There is something very pure about the quality of the lines in the CALEO Fine Jewelry collections. A sophisticated sense of color and texture to be sure, but almost child-like in the way the shapes are outlined. Looking at this collection, I am reminded of a quote from Picasso: “It took me four years to paint like Rafael, but a lifetime to paint like a child”. Many other jewelry collections are elaborate, with gems encrusting every surface of rococo forms, but Caleo seems to capture a certain innocence and refreshing purity of form.

Caleo Mini Cloud Earrings in 18k Yellow with Chrysoprase and Turquoise, $1090 Retail

The Designer

Designer and creative director Lyndsay Caleo is responsible for the renderings and ideas that become the finished reality of CALEO Fine Jewelry. She credits inspiration coming from primitive art, Scandinavian aesthetic, and nature’s simple, perfect forms. She distills these elements through her sculptor’s eye, then refines them to jewelry scale.

I’m not the only one noticing this designer: before the collection officially launched in 2009, it was awarded the Innovative Talent Award from the World Gold Council that year. Celebrity stylists have also noticed, and the designs have gotten numerous press mentions in past year since it’s launch. (And while it’s not the most important thing about the collection, it is worth noting that most items in the collection range in price from $150 to about $2000.)

Caleo Pinch Stack Ring with Center Rainbow Moonstone, $850 Retail, and Pinch Stack Rings with Diamonds, from $425 Retail

The Caleo Collections

The Cloud Collection is a signature look, featuring a finely-drawn line that loops bezels around rose-cut gems like Labradorite and Rainbow Moonstone. There are bracelets with hefty jewels balanced by sculptural clasps, and necklaces where the loop is actually a clip that can go from chain to chain. All have a certain appeal with the focus on the clean lines and gorgeous jewels.

Caleo Large Cloud Earrings with Rose Cut Labradorite in 18k Gold

The Pinch Collection really shows the three dimensional talent of the designer as sculptor. The simple forms take on a totally different quality with the undulating pinch texture defining the edges. Everything shines here: the hoop and straight-line earrings, the bangles, necklaces, and the stacking rings. In addition to the 18kt Yellow, Rose and White gold, this collection looks stunning in a satin white finish and blackened rhodium-plated finish on Sterling Silver.

Caleo Pinch Stacking Rings in Satin White and Black Rhodium Sterling Silver, $165 and $175 Retail

The Oceana Slink collection features some truly amazing pieces like the hinged cuff that resembles a textured Manta Ray encasing your wrist. There is also an Aurora and Halo collection, where diamonds and gems are surrounded by sculptural metal. The Aurora rings stack together in very interesting ways, with an almost Byzantine feel.

Caleo Oceana Slink Cuff Bracelet in Sterling Silver with Diamonds, $2790 Retail

The Interview So you started as a sculptor originally? What made you take the step from sculptor to jewelry designer?
Lyndsay Caleo: I made the transition from “sculpture” to “jewelry” during my artist residency at the Cleveland Institute following my graduation from RIT. I was reading about nomadic tribes at the time. I am fascinated by their culture and how they carry and wear their amulets and talismans’. During my time at the Cleveland Institute my work kept getting smaller and smaller until I began to attach chains to my designs so I could wear them. I realized that every culture has different versions of a talisman, in some way shape or form. What we choose to wear can make us feel confident, safe, empowered or somehow connected to someone or something. I am drawn to the personal connection and meaning that jewelry communicates. On another level I approach my jewelry the same way I approach my larger scale work. From interiors to sculpture, my work is all about creating systems. So in a way I feel like I’m still working as a sculptor, only on a different scale. I’m constantly thinking about how a piece of sculpture can make sense worn on one’s body.

When did you start the Caleo Fine Jewelry company? Did this grow out organically from private designing, or did you set out to start a full-fledged design company?
Caleo, as a company, grew very organically, I was in the studio for a few years creating one of a kind pieces until the demand grew beyond what I could make with my own hands.

Caleo Halo Ring in 18k with Chrysoprase with Diamond Accent

What was your first collection(s)?
My very first jewelry collection was a series of one of a kind pieces that explored what I mentioned above, as well as material, shape and form that I hadn’t seen in jewelry before. During this time I was exploring and handcarving everything from stone and crystal, to wood and hand cast metal.

Where is your jewelry made? Is there anything special about the sourcing or finishing that readers should know about?

All of the gold I use is recycled and I only use conflict free diamonds and stones. I still create pieces in my studio but I also have an incredible team of goldsmiths that work me with on production and one of a kind specialty pieces.

How does your bench training at Rhode Island School of Design influence your designs?

RISD was an important time for me on many levels. My years at RISD were intense but inspirational. You gain so much knowledge by working with your hands. It taught me to see things from a different perspective and reconsider my thought process behind my work. I try to approach everything I create with an open mind. The attention to detail is key in all of my work. The knowledge and discipline I gained during those years has helped me mold Caleo into what it is today.

Caleo Pinch Teardrop Earrings in 18k Yellow Gold, $1500 Retail

Have you had any fortunate serendipity while designing? Like a “mistake” or experiment that somehow turned into something really wonderful?
About two years ago someone sent me a huge bouquet of lily’s. The flowers had passed but I had plucked off the stamen [those pesky little parts in the center of the lily that stain your cloths? ] and left them on my bench. I would push them around and play with them while I was working. Months later I was looking at a new collection I was working on and realized that those pesky little Stamen shapes were in every one of my designs. Today that collection is one of our best selling collections.

Is there any type of medium or material you would like to add to your collections? Anything exciting that you are working on? Yes!! Material is a constant source of inspiration and I am excited about what’s on the table for Spring! I am just finishing the samples now.

Where can readers find your designs?
All of our retail partners that carry the collection are listed on our website, We have key partners around the country. If we do not have a retail partner in your region we can be contacted directly about questions or concerns at: info at caleojewelry dot com.

Thank you, Lyndsay! You can find her designs at stores like Broken English in Santa Monica, Tivol in Kansas City, and some other locations across the country. You can contact her studio through their website here. This designer shows such strength, and such promise, I can’t wait to see what else she creates!

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