The modern times has brought a great shift in the jewelry industry, mainly because of the different demands that has come with the changing times. Legacy jewelry houses suddenly didn’t dominate the whole market anymore, giving windows of opportunities for new jewelers to woo the younger generations of jewelry purchasers. One of the breakthrough young brands that has captured the contemporary audience is Leigh Miller.
Leigh Miller is a young brand that takes inspiration from the nature, showcasing silhouettes that match the preference of the younger consumers who are all about self-expression and individuality.
But how did this brand manage to rise up to the ranks?
The main brain and hand in all of its success started from its founder, Leigh Miller Newman.
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Journey from clothing to jewelry
Leigh Miller Newman is an LA-based designer, with nature playing a big role in her artistic expression through different kinds of jewelry. But before her world became filled with metals, rings, bracelets and gemstones, she had been surrounded with everything clothing-related.
She got a degree in fashion design in 2002, graduating from an LA art and design school. When she moved to New York, she immediately started with her fashion design career, working in known brands such as Calvin Klein and J. Crew. However, with her work with fashion brands, she wasn’t able to have a more hands-on experience of the design and creative process, which she saw was a possibility in the craft of jewelry and metalwork.
So she took jewelry classes, and started experimenting on different metals and techniques. She later on created her own unique technique in wax melting, which she used to create her very first collection. The molten-looking silhouettes in her first pieces led to her eponymous brand’s successful debut to the jewelry industry.
Unique jewelry-making process
The unique methods by which Leigh Miller crafts its pieces are considered unconventional, yet they work wonders. The brand uses the “lost wax casting method,” an ancient tradition where molten wax is used for sculpting. After the sculpting into the beeswax, casting of the pieces into sterling silver comes next, and then the crucial phase of hammering the pieces by hand to achieve organic forms and silhouettes. Afterwards, the making of moulds take place and then the final products are cast. Final finishing, soldering or polishing are done also, to ensure the quality of appearance of each piece.
The brand uses a wide-range of metal types to attain varying looks from the jewelry pieces—sterling silver, brass, bronze, yellow and pink gold—all these metals are used, sometimes with Japanese silk cording and semi-precious stones, to create the ethereal-looking pieces. But personally, Leigh has a liking for silver in metalwork, mainly because she loves how it looks when polished, and is soft and easy to work with. Since silver is relatively and inexpensive metal too, she can easily make larger pieces with it without the price of the final product breaking customers’ banks.
The first ever collection of Leigh Miller was launched back in 2014 at Creatures of Comfort, where it has stayed for the rest of the winter that year. It had led to the fame of the collection and the brand, eventually appearing in different magazines including The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Who What Wear, Spanish Vogue, Bust Magazine, Elle, and Allure, among many others. The success of the first collection also made way for its founder to be talked about, as well as her influences that include Jackson Pollock and Salvador Dali, of whose works became the main inspiration for the brand’s Collection Four that was released later on. The organic quality in the brand’s style is still manifested in Collection Four’s pieces, particularly in the Sea Pearl Kombu Earrings, Sea Twig Earrings, and Sea Pod Earrings.
Leigh Miller intends to continue its work on sustainable jewelry, ensuring that it uses conflict-free gems and recycled silver. In terms of target consumers, it aims for reach wider age-range of customers with pieces that are timeless, and not like the fast fashion trend that’s rampant nowadays.
For now, the founder enjoys the small-scale business she has, as it means they can focus more on the quality rather than quantity. Design is primary to the brand’s production, and its current setup allow it to ensure that the design is never compromised.
The brand is still currently being developed, and one idea to incorporate in its growth is the possibility of producing homeware and collectables in the future. With such endeavor, it wouldn’t be shocking to see Leigh Miller’s name all over Home and Lifestyle magazines and websites in the next few years.