Which came first, the designer or the jewelry?
In Dania De Bortoli's case, the jewelry beat her by about 80 years.
The Fairfield jewelry and purse designer creates opulent adornments using beads and intricate cast metal pieces taken from vintage art nouveau and art deco jewelry.
A businesswoman with a background in project management, De Bortoli's passion for jewelry began with antique pieces. She immersed herself in eBay, buying and selling vintage jewelry.
Her creations are often dramatic, planting glamorous, swirly art nouveau beads into unexpected new arrangements. Her pieces frequently use pearls and aged brass, which De Bortoli said has a warmth that works well with many skin types.
At once modern and retro, De Bortoli gives vintage lovers something new to get excited about. Her work caught on quickly, since launching the business three years ago, and she's been picked up in galleries across, and outside, the state, and is sold online.
And recently, she's embarked on a new venture: Pet jewelry, inspired by her 3-month-old toy poodle, Cocoa Butter.
De Bortoli caved in the cold weather, watching her dog shiver and started outfitting her in sweaters. Once she was making sweaters for the dog, she thought, why not jewelry?
"It's for pure adornment purposes," she said. "I'm just having fun looking into this, doing the research, coming up with prototypes and (researching) the market.