We had the good fortune of connecting with Gai Russo and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Gai, let’s start by talking about what inspires you?

That’s a big question but here is one inspiration I reach for often.

I grew up in a rural town in NE Ohio so I spent A LOT of time outside. All of the textures and shapes of tree bark, leaves, and branches/twigs; how they intraconnect the woods, supporting one another, overlapping, creating negative and positive space, and so forth; you can fill a notebook with just one glance.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?

I am most proud of the aromatic jewelry my husband Ron and I design and hand craft. He patented it and we went on to hand make over 20,000 pieces for a Marie Claire campaign benefitting The Pediatric AIDS Foundation, and the Aveda Company worldwide. We are in the midst of launching new designs as I write this.

My jewelry teacher always told me “to have a lot of irons in the fire” which means work as a bench jeweler, work at a traditional jewelry store, apply to art shows, create wholesale relationships and develop a personal following. My clients are so wonderful, I often have the pleasure and honor of creating bespoke pieces for them. It has been challenging at times but when you keep your heart and mind open it makes getting through the challenges a bit easier. My husband keeps his mind open and I keep my heart open so we are a great team!

I want the world to know that I personally hand make each piece of my work with love and the desire that it been worn often, daily if possible.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.

Oh let’s see first we would start off with a fresh arugula fruit water I make at home, then walk the dog into town for a sweet bit of shopping at shed boutique and wellness, after that we hop in the car for a leisurely drive down Shaker Blvd to the Cleveland Museum of Art, where we would have a cocktail and a small plate at Provenance before heading upstairs to view the 20th century collection. After that we would stop at the iconic Cleveland restaurant, Tommy’s in Coventry, ordering a tempeh burger with pickles and mustard. I love the seasons here in Ohio so any one of them make for beautiful walks in local parks, the best thing are the birds who reside in the little canyon we live near…barred owls, hawks, woodpeckers, cardinals, crows, herons, and more.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?

My husband asked when we were dating “What do you want to do?” I said “Make jewelry” he said “Okay” bought me my first set of needle files and researched the best jewelry school (all before the internet)…we moved to Oregon where I graduated with a BA in Jewelry Metals. He is my inspiration, editor and partner in design, his eye to detail and ability to tell the truth all the time is admirable. Plus he just made me sprouted sourdough toast with peanut butter, apricot preserves, lemon zest, and sugar. It was amazing, like him!

I’ve loved jewelry ever since I was a little kid taking my Grandmother’s jewelry box every Sunday and opening it to look at all of her earrings…she had so many costume earrings,…as I typed out this answer I realize that’s why I love love creating earrings using sustainably sourced sterling silver, gold, gold fill and gems but also at times combining those metals with old stock lucite or wood.

In my personal photo I’m using my Dad’s hammer from the 70s and the anvil he pulled from a job site in the late 80s. I use these tools daily!

Website: gairusso.com

Instagram: Gai Russo

Linkedin: Gai Russo

Facebook: Gai Ellen Russo

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