New Bedford is home to noted jewelry designer Claudia Montez and her Isabelle Grace Jewelry collection. These necklaces, bracelets and earrings are keepsakes that can be passed from generation to generation. The production of each piece is about creating a one-of-a-kind piece to celebrate life's most precious moments, and each piece is made by hand from the highest quality materials by local artisans. Many can be customized with names, initials, dates, birthstones, charms and more. The collection is so popular, that it has become a favorite among Hollywood's A-listers such as Katherine Heigl, Camila Alves, Lindsay Price, Tamera Mowry and Alyson Hannigan.
"Each of our pieces carries a special meaning," Montez says. "Some celebrate a birth, while others tell a story filled with love and devotion. Some proclaim victory over adversity, while others gently urge their owner on with hope and patience. Each piece of our jewelry is as unique as the woman wearing it. We are proud to be a part of your story. All jewelry is personalized to you; made consciously by us."
Montez's collection was inspired by a gold locket her grandmother wore that contained a photo of her grandfather. To her, the necklace represented a beautiful, personal tradition, and she wanted to continue the spirit of that legacy by designing her own pieces. She named her collection after the middle names of her two daughters, Sofia Isabelle and Gabriella Grace, as they too had a hand in the creation of her business.
"When I was home on maternity leave with my second daughter, I started designing as a kind of hobby," Montez says. "I became interested in Photo Jewelry, and began researching how to make those types of pieces. That led to exploring and working with different materials and it all just evolved from there. I have no formal training in jewelry design. Everything has been self-taught and through [trial] and error."
Montez says she doesn't have a specific design process, and her ideas for pieces always happen differently. Sometimes a sketch of a pattern or shape will inspire a design, as was the case with one of her favorite pieces, the Plume Heart Charm Necklace.
"In this case, the plume design on the front of the heart was the inspiration for the piece," she says. "I love the intricate design of the heart charm. This beautiful piece celebrates the bond of family, love, marriage or a special relationship. We often customize the back of the heart with the couple's names and anniversary date. The small charms hold the children's names and birth dates."
Personalization, Montez says, is what she loves most about designing jewelry, and it seems to be a major selling point for customers.
"I think that our customers really love the unique styling and look of our pieces," she says. "I never wanted to be the girl that wore what everyone else was wearing, and that's what I think of when I'm designing. Our customers know that when they buy a piece from us, they can custom create a piece that reflects their own personal style and is meaningful to them."
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