By doing this, the talent and brains behind the brand that's taking off, Cortez means designing jewelry and running a business on her own -- "of course it helps to have friends in the industry," she says. As a woman in my 30s, I've found my style to be grounded in a basic uniform of jeans, cigarette pants, tees, and cardigans with killer accessories. A self-proclaimed jewelry addict, my new fav brand is sal miel for its dark, edgy, yet classic aesthetic.
This season, sal miel is doing tons of rings, which Cortez calls "little sculptures." Indeed, her process is akin to a sculptor's, as she starts with a wax mold and carves away until she gets the right shape, curves, and angles. Stacking rings are hot right now, though Cortez says she likes to "avoid the editorial trends and be more of a trendsetter. Besides, living in New York, you see all the trends on the street -- the good, the bad, the ugly -- you can't help but to be informed by them. I let them inspire me."
My favorite of the sal miel collection is the "Two-Spike" ring, which proves to be a most deadly accessory. The designer looks at me deadpan and says, "Sometimes you're out alone at night and you don't have any mace, but you have your 'Two-Spike.' Better than brass knuckles."
Cortez works in custom media, but to keep a lower price point, uses mostly silver, bronze, brass, and even petrified wood. Up next, she's working on cufflinks (inspired by Don draper, but a fabulous unisex accessory) and men's rings, which according to Cortez, who in addition to running her brand, works a full-time job in fashion, is "an untapped market." When it comes to mixing gold, silver, brass, and bronze, Cortez is all for it, as long as you keep your wardrobe sleek and minimal, and only wear clothes that work for your body.
Though she spends time in the Meatpacking District and the Lower East Side, Cortez's home and studio are in Williamsburg. The designer loves the pace of Brooklyn, and, you guessed it, finding "hidden gems." Some of her favorite places to shop are Catbird, A Thousand Picnics, and Love Adorned.
As for storing her jewelry, Cortez favors a vintage cigar box (lined with fur to protect the jewels) or an old Tiffany wine glass box. And like many jewelers I know, she advises you to "stack it wherever it can go," so you can always see your adornments.
For purchase information visit sal miel online, Facebook and instagram @salmiel
I just adore this brand for being a gem in the rough, so thanks, Yvette!