Show + Tell: BRVTVS Jewelry Designer Caroline Ventura

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We’ve long admired the jewelry line BRVTVS and Caroline Ventura, the woman behind it, whose style is our favorite blend of California chill and New York cool. We spent an afternoon catching up in her rustic, light-filled studio and apartment in New York’s West Village (fun fact: it’s a former sail maker’s factory) and shared a stroll around the block, where her number-one accessory—Darryl, her wirehaired pointing griffon—stole the show.

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Ventura, who moved to New York from Los Angeles seven years ago, couldn’t find the type of jewelry she was looking for—“I wanted a simple, clean bracelet I could wear every day”—so she decided to make it herself. Her middle school hobbies of weaving, macramé and soldering came in handy, but the result was clean, sculptural shapes that were anything but crafts-class macaroni necklaces. “I just sourced materials and made it. I didn’t give it a second thought,” she says of her line’s inception. Thus, a collection of simple gold chains and silk-and-gold “grown-up friendship bracelets” was born. She christened it BRVTVS, after history’s most famous backstabber. And while a friendship bracelet might not have mended things between Caesar and Brutus, the delicate gilded chains quickly became Ventura’s calling card. Now, her four-year-old line, which she produces in her at-home workspace, includes earrings, necklaces and ear cuffs (like the ones she created for designer Jason Wu’s spring 2013 runway show), often in reclaimed metals. Spear-shaped studs and a hammered patina pay quiet tribute to the collection’s Roman moniker.

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Ventura also applies a Wabi-sabi approach to her style, which she describes as “minimalist and pretty restrained,” tailoring everything to fit as if it’s bespoke. It takes the pressure off decision-making at sample sales and on eBay, where she finds most of her wardrobe, and where dressing rooms aren’t an option. To make pieces her own, she has trousers specially tapered at the knees and thighs and has her boots re-dyed in new colors. “A good cobbler or tailor can really make a difference, and the clothes feel way more personal,” says Ventura. They also feel more comfortable, which is her number-one style rule. “I’ve always felt most myself in jeans, boots and a jacket. I think I’ve always been a New Yorker at heart.”

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Ventura’s letting her industrious mindset lead to her next project. She and her husband, fellow artisan Michael Ventura, are designing custom furniture—the wooden pieces (like the bench pictured above) share the same hand-touched feel as her jewelry—and she has plans to expand into perfume and pottery. We’ll be looking forward to what’s next.