Pinterest
Facebook
Twitter
Instagram

Brilliant Friends | MEET JEWELRY DESIGNER KAREN LINDNER

 

The superior craftsmanship of Karen Lindner’s one of a kind antique jewelry collection has a design sensibility and attention to detail typical of the luxury jewelers lining the Place Vendôme in Paris.

Karen’s jewelry has a distinct design style and impeccable craftsmanship, every piece of jewelry Karen designs is destined to become an heirloom. Her passion for perfection and creating timeless pieces that will truly remain a mark of elegance for years to come prove that one can live a century and still be relevant today.

I’m incredibly excited that Karen is giving us an insider peek into her beautiful world of antique jewelry, her creative process, and her inspiration.

Karen chooses glorious antique elements and interprets them to create stylish and sophisticated classics to make women feel and look as beautiful as they are.  She tells an exquisite story of breathtaking beauty with each piece of jewelry she designs.

Each one is a classic, exquisite and one-of-a-kind work of art, an heirloom in the making.  With extravagant details, these exceptional jewelry pieces spark an emotion, a memory.

These luxury antique works of art, that just happen to be transformed into jewelry, are unforgettable. Each one, like the women who wear them, has a story to tell, and a journey that goes along with it.

These jewelry pieces are extraordinary, memorable. We cherish the moment a special piece of jewelry was given to us, and how it made us feel. It’s a memory that lasts a lifetime, and is passed down to next generations with the piece. Each piece in this latest collection for FrenchGardenHouse is the kind of jewelry that you will remember forever.

Karen’s one-of-a-kind jewelry is distinguished by her unmistakable attention to detail. Her pieces reflect her love of antiques, her love of creating, and her incredible love of the beauty created by master craftsmen and artists long ago.

Being the daughter of parents who exposed her to world travel at an early age had far-reaching benefits. “Those experiences fostered my love for authentic pieces from those places. I loved being in old buildings, surrounded by the architectural elements and decorative pieces that had “lived” there centuries before. I was fascinated by the stories of those who came before us, and for envisioning how to preserve and honor those artifacts and stories.”

It’s no wonder that Karen wanted to become an archeologist,

Karen has been called singer Miranda Lambert’s go-to jewelry designer by the press. She created the gorgeous choker style necklace the singer wore in her video “Over You”, and all the jewelry worn by her bridal party when she got married.

When singer Jeff Gutt was looking for investors to jumpstart his career and cut an EP, one of the perks available as a prize was a sterling silver and emerald necklace from “celebrity custom jewelry designer Karen Lindner of Karen Lindner Designs.”

 

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW
Where did you grow up and how did your childhood influence your life and your jewelry?

 

I grew up in Columbus Ohio. One prominent influence was the cultural experiences I enjoyed, thanks to my travel-loving parents.

I may not have read every plaque on each museum display, but I was definitely the child who wanted to touch and hold and experience the pieces inside the cases. I wanted  to be as close to the owners or creators of the wondrous antique artifacts as I possibly could be.

My actual childhood home {which is still the one my mother lives in} was also an influential part of my life and my designs.  Its juxtaposition of style and period of both architecture and décor is actually very symbolic of the overall aesthetic of my work. A balanced embrace of old and new; an uncluttered melding of modern and ancient.  It’s a true mid century modern home with Eames chairs, displayed next to a Medieval suit of armor {named George} and two 16th century Spanish swords.

The original art in classic frames beside proudly-displayed children’s school artwork sculptures of monster heads and birds. Always with the intent to let each shine in it’s own right.

 What did your career path look like before launching your jewelry line?

 

After college, I worked in retail sales, management, and visual merchandising.  I also had experiences with museum clothing curating, community theater costume design, and finally started a career in Interior Design that lasted 15 years.  I worked on decorator show houses, as well as residential and commercial design projects during those years.

I enjoyed the creative process of designing custom furniture and lighting pieces, and incorporating antique elements into those designs. It’s so encouraging to see that others are embracing the value, interest, and sense of reimagined history that those elements can give to a space.  I remember having to talk my clients into the concept – whether it meant keeping their own items but updating them in some way {an old chest becomes a vanity; the old pier mirror frame becomes wall art,} or investing in antique salvaged pieces and giving them new life once they were mixed with modern details.

What sparked your passion for jewelry?

While I was working with clients re-imagining their antique home furniture and decor, I simultaneously began to envision a line of jewelry that incorporated antiques that had once had other lives as decorative elements. Antique sterling napkin rings, chandelier crystals, and purse handles suddenly all had wearable possibilities in my mind’s eye.

Who has inspired your journey and why?  

Definitely my parents!  My father was an inspiration because of his engineering mind, his love of how things work and are put together, and mostly because of his love of working on projects and creating art.

A favorite photo I have is of him sitting as a young child in his father’s workshop, making one of his early “creations.”  I have many wonderful memories of being in my dad’s workshop, creating things together throughout my youth.  It seemed like there wasn’t a tool he didn’t have, or a task he couldn’t find a way to do.

My mother was my other inspiration due to her love for history, of historic places and objects.  Together with my dad, she enjoyed many trips to England and Europe, and she loved seeing the specific items I chose to work with for my custom jewelry.

What inspires you creatively?

I’d like to think something is always inspiring me, in different ways.  Museums, architecture, fashion, cars….elements of design that I find running concurrently in all of these mediums at given periods.  I am inspired by the efforts of people I know {or “know” thanks to social media} who are speaking out about preservation, and educating me on the history of large and small details of certain places and items.

Whenever I see how others have incorporated antique objects into modern life, I am inspired.  Fresh visions for forgotten pieces seem to be everywhere these days, and I am so happy to see it.  At times it seems like it’s all you see. I think it has elevated the expectations of us all on how things should be cared for, and maintained.

Simultaneous to a suffocating “throw away” society; I marvel at how popular resurrecting pieces from the past continues to be. I’m encouraged by the demand for recycling our ancestor’s creations.   I’m always inspired when I see old relics in use.

 

Can you share a high point in your jewelry designing career? 

Being asked to do Miranda Lambert’s entire 2011 wedding party, her personal pieces, and those worn by her mother and {former} mother-in-law remains a top high point for me.  The bridal party all chose their own individual “looks” to compliment their personalities as well as their unique gowns {that they each designed.}

Miranda’s wedding necklace custom designed by Karen.

What makes your jewelry distinct?

I choose antiques that most often weren’t meant to be jewelry.  My work showcases the artistry of lost craftsmen, the detailed beauty of “every day” objects for upper classes, and otherwise forgotten décor pieces that would have spent the rest of their lives in drawers. Instead, I  add simple modern chains, metals and stones, allowing them to be true stars.

Little to no embellishment is my goal – I want the pieces themselves to be the design, even though that design and purpose has been re-imagined : fancy sterling English purse handles become statement necklaces; ornate French napkin rings become perfectly-sized cuff bracelets; tiny chatelaine pencils and carved stone letter seals become one-of-a-kind charms for new owners.

If your jewelry had a message, what would you like it to say?

Thank you for keeping my story going, and for helping to ensure that the artistry and craft of my creator is not lost.

What do you wish more collectors knew about your jewelry? 

Each piece is hand designed and one-of-a-kind, and celebrates finding and appreciating the lost stories in all of our lives. For each custom designed piece of jewelry, I incorporate actual, original and authentic antiques, a tangible heirloom treasure.

I want women to know that when they are wearing my jewelry, they are touching something very special that has just been rediscovered. Something that has just begun to tell the stories of its past to a new generation, their generation, and the future generations in their family.

In an era of mass-produced living, I find embracing treasures that have lasted decades – and in some instances, centuries – to be a much more rewarding way to embellish my world.

I think all of us have a few things we think we can’t live without. What is the one thing you can’t live without?

My family.  I would not want to imagine a life without them.

If something tangible was more what you meant, I would say that the family pieces I have mean the most to me – especially my grandmother’s engagement ring which I wear stacked with mine, still sized to her finger, and so special as it was not until her 25th wedding anniversary that they were able to afford it – a heartfelt reminder of love, loyalty and patience.

As an antiques enthusiast, I have to ask this question, what is your favorite FrenchGardenHouse antique? And what is it that you love about it?

 

My enduring love is silver – tableware, serving pieces, decorative items.  I love the details – the monograms, the etched and molded patterns, and the hidden decoration on the undersides of forks and bottoms of bowls.  Especially obsessing lately over salt sellers and footed compotes – they have so many functions in today’s world, and are perfect when mixed into our casual wood-and-stone lifestyles : as a little catch-all for stamps & paperclips on a desk, a perfect little place to float a single flower, or place set of keys…..I also love them on bars to hold the essentials there – the olives, extra picks, fun “additives” like special sugars or candied flowers…..so many, many uses!
I LOVE : The Antique French Crystal and Silver Master Salt Cellars.  The combination of the delicate patterned silver edge and and etched glass is lovely.  I wonder whose table they graced and if the salt was ever spilled and tossed over a fancy shoulder at that table.Antique French Master Salts

 

 

What’s your favorite antique at home?

I have two.  One is a set of USAF “sweetheart” wings that my father gave me. The other is a very large 6’ empty mirror frame from an old house – lots of gesso missing; gilt that is faded and chipped.  In each case, it’s the person who gave each of them to me, as well as their own inherent beauty, that make them my favorites.

My favorite color is: 

Blue

If I could have one wish, I would wish for: 

No more cancer. We have two cancer survivors in our little 4-person family unit, and I believe in my heart that it is through this shared survival that we have all found the strength for taking on each new day with positive determination and an honest appreciation for the beauty around us and for our time together. I try to infuse that same appreciation into each piece that I design.

Right now I’m reading:  

Empty Mansions

My favorite place is:

At home with my family.

5 must haves: 

1. Love/Family/Home 2. Champagne cocktails 3. A beautiful view 4. Mascara 5.Comfortable & stylish shoes

Favorite Quote:

“The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love, and be loved in return.” – Eden Abez.

 

THANK YOU so very much, Karen, for taking the time to do this interview.

I’ve been a huge fan of Karen’s work ever since ten years or so ago, I asked to acquire one of her luxury sterling cuffs to sell at FrenchGardenHouse. When it arrived, it never left; once I saw that very first piece, I was completely and amazingly smitten, it’s still my favorite piece of jewelry.

I wear my KDL pieces quite a lot. And they never cease to draw attention and compliments. {as well as offers to buy them, right off my wrist or neck!}

Jewelry like this is special. There is a connection to the past, to the rich heritage we share with others who are grateful for the beautiful accoutrements of our life. A connection to other women, long gone home to their reward, who lived, loved and cared for their families, friends and communities much like we do today.

I thrill at the thought that one of my daughters, or granddaughters might wear this one day, and remember not just me, but the other women who loved “my” sterling work of art before me.

The latest collection of antique sterling cuffs I was able to acquire is the creme-de-la-creme.  The finest, most ornate sterling silver masterpieces, all French, all hand made long ago with roses, swans, crests and laurel leaves. Ornate and detailed, a labor of love by an accomplished craftsman long ago.

They are investment pieces, but when you divide their cost by the decades you will be able to wear these elegant classic signature pieces, you will more than agree that they are a worthwhile and stellar investment.

I am so pleased to be able to offer a few of these exquisite bracelets from Karen’s KDL Collection this season. If one speaks to your heart, please don’t hesitate to send the link to your “gift giver” or snap it up for yourself.

This is the kind of jewelry you celebrate major anniversaries, new babies and a major promotion with. You will never be able to find another.

15 Responses to Brilliant Friends | MEET JEWELRY DESIGNER KAREN LINDNER

  1. Hi, Lidy — Wow . . . just simply amazing bracelets. There is gorgeous, and then there is gorgeous. Thank you for “sharing” them with us. Each bracelet is a miniature work of art and craftsmanship. And you are so correct, the stories that each bracelet could tell! Makes my head swim!! Thank you also for your beautifully written article.
    Janet in SA

  2. Janet, thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. I agree, there is gorgeous and then there is gorgeous…these are simply the most exceptional cuffs I’ve ever had the privilege to be able to offer to fellow jewelry lovers.

  3. One of my favorite bracelets is one made of a silver spoon handle (a girl on a budget, heirloom piece) and these bangles as you have stated are certainly the most exquisite, breathtaking heirloom pieces. I so loved the interview with Karen. Just by reading her answers you know that she has a most beautiful soul and seeks to bring out the soul, the story, of the jewelry she creates. Karen is a most talented and creative person and how great that she shares her talent with others to bring them joy. I can see why she is one of your favorite people! My hubby is a huge Miranda Lambert fan and if I tell him that Miranda loves her jewelry … hmmm … Great feature/post Lidy…loved reading every word and swooning over every remarkable piece!

  4. Shirley, I’m so happy you enjoyed the interview with Karen. She is not only amazingly talented, but incredibly gracious and sweet. You are so fortunate to have a silver spoon bracelet, those are so pretty!

  5. Frances, if you click on any of the bracelet pictures you can see them, or on the link at the bottom of the post.

  6. I love all the bracelets. I too have a bracelet my Dad brought back from Paris for my mom that he bought just before he returned to the states when World War ll ended. It is so special to me. I will pass it on to my niece or great niece . There are those special pieces that evoke love of the past.

  7. Gloria, I love that you have the bracelet your Dad brought home from Paris for your Mom! You are right, that’s a special piece that evokes love of the past.

  8. Beautiful jewelry. I have read Empty Mansions. It would be interesting to visit the mansions and be inspired by their contents. Hughett Clark must have been a very lonely person amongst such wealth. May she rest in peace.

  9. Thank you Lorraine. I haven’ t read it but just put it on my list, you’ve gotten me intrigued!

  10. I love reading this interview dear Lidy! What an inspiring artist Karen is, and her work is absolutely beautiful! I’ve always loved sterling cuffs. There’s something so elegant about a silver cuff on a woman’s wrist.
    I am so glad I came by today to read you and Karen’s lovely words.

    sending hugs from here….

  11. Thank you so much, June. It’s always such a pleasure to have you visit me here. Karen’s work is stunning, but you are right, it is really her lovely heart and spirit that is the most beautiful!

Leave a reply