Spotlight // Unearthen

Unearthen

Unearthen Protection and comfort – that’s what jewelry designer Gia Bahm wants her customers to feel when wearing her jewelry. Bahm, who is entirely self-taught, launched her jewelry line Unearthen in 2009 with a collection of pendants that combined gemstones and crystals with empty bullet casings. Over the years, the LA-based jewelry designer has expanded her line to include watches, rings and the striking combination of precious stones, such as sapphires and black diamonds with raw crystals.

Bahm's latest collection evokes a sense of mysticism and rawness, which has become Unearthen’s trademark. We caught up with Gia to ask her more about her creative process and an exciting new program that allows customers to contribute to Unearthen.

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Is there a theme to your current collection?

I have an ongoing theme. I create pieces that inspire self growth, and reflection. This theme is really the definition of Unearthen. Whether it be a crystal with powers to inspire, or a shape or phrase to protect and provide comfort to the wearer. There's always themes for each collection, whether just certain stones that we repeat, or metal types and shapes. This current collection isn't very different than past collections, the idea being a lot about talismans, some sort of protection or guard, and reminder of goals and dreams.

Where do you acquire the stones and pieces for your collection?

We get our stones and crystals from all over the world. We work with several mines and stone lapidaries reaching across the globe depending on the stone type and its origin. For instance, a lot of beautiful quartz comes from the good ol’ USA - Arkansas!

What materials are you drawn to?

I am completely and always attracted to clear quartz no matter what. This season a favorite is black tourmalinated quartz - it's quartz which has tiny needle like shards of black tourmaline running through the quartz. It's insane.

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What inspires you? What inspires me is coming up with new ways to make jewelry more than just a pretty thing you wear. Thinking about themes in people's lives, things we all deal with and work through to feel happy and whole is fascinating to me. I'm inspired by history and the rites and passages people use to talk about their fears, their dreams, and how to accept and overcome them.

What's your favorite piece of jewelry that you have created? My favorite thing? Hard question! I feel very tied to all of them. But I would say that if I had to choose, my favorite piece is the mini prism ring because it feels special and bright and is easy to wear all the time.

What's a typical workday for you? A lot of computer work, weirdly enough! I spend a lot of time multi-tasking, answering emails, helping people in the studio problem-solve and helping with whatever comes up within the day. I usually work from about 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. I feel most creative in the afternoons and evenings, when it's quieted down for the day and I'm able to concentrate on aesthetics.

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What do you enjoy about being a jewelry designer?

Everything! The fact that I own my own business and can create an income and an income for others by using my brain and my hands. The beautiful materials we work with. Thinking of how to make something new and original. The only way I am truly happy is by creating with my hands, so this job is perfect for me.

What music are you currently listening to?

I've been listening to a lot of Michael Rother. He's a really far out dude who makes amazing instrumental new age krautrock that is so good. Another good instrumental one is Penguin Cafe Orchestra. Their records are great to create to. I’m also loving Nick Cave and Big Star these days for sentimental reasons.

Tell us more about the Ally program. The Unearthen Ally is a program we're running for a limited amount of time, where you can basically become a special part of our family. There are eights levels of the program depending on what you're interested in contributing. Also, there's some special one-of-a-kind items that are bonuses with each order, like original design sketches and Unearthen tote bags. When I started Unearthen, I enlisted many of my friends who are musicians, writers and artists to help create Unearthen’s aesthetic. Now we want to include our customers as well!

You can become an Unearthen Ally until September 15. For more information, visit here.

Photographs by Shana Fisher. Words by Stephanie Corral.