Charme Silkiner’s fashion addiction

Charme Silkiner calls designing dreaming with her eyes open.

One glance at the sketchbook of designs Silkiner kept as a child, and you would guess she might end up in fashion, or at least that she certainly fantasized of being a designer.

As a little girl, she would draw page after page of what she hoped to one day wear. By her teenage years, she was reading voraciously any fashion magazine she could get her hands on and staying current with all the runway shows.

At age 13, she noticed that when she closed her eyes at night, designs would just burst into her head, as if of their own volition.

“I just could not control designing in my head,” Silkiner revealed. “That may sound kind of crazy, but I just closed my eyes and started designing … that sort of continued through my entire life.”

Art seemed a natural choice for her college major. But her dream of becoming a designer would not be fulfilled until years later. Life, marriage and kids happened. Through it all, however, she never stopped designing -- or dreaming.

“That was my main thing. Every time I could get, I sat down and filled books with designs and honestly it wasn’t all jewelry,” Silkiner said. “Sometimes they were handbags, shoes, clothes, but I did finally realize most of my drawings included jewelry. Even if I was designing handbags, they had stones on them.”

There was no question she had found her calling. After her youngest left for college, Silkiner figured her time had come and set up a studio to bring all those sketches to life.

“My passion at that point was just utterly extraordinary and designing just became relentless. I was really addicted,” she said.

Her lucky break came when her best friend decided to host a show of Silkiner’s jewelry. Soon local shops became interested in carrying her line. Whenever Silkiner wore her designs around town, people would ask where she had purchased them. She recalls strolling into a Kate Spade store wearing one of her own necklaces. The representatives saw it and were instantly interested. Silkiner was floored. She didn’t even have a business card to hand them.

“It was really flattering,” she said. “At that point I thought I’m just really going to work on this and get my act together.”

She returned to the store and showed her collection to the workers. They were sold.

Silkiner believes her pieces exhibit a sense of drama and daring, full of elegance and romance.

“I like to have fun with contrasting ultrafeminity and edginess, and (my jewelry) is often very subtle that way,” the designer said. “Sometimes my designs are more restrained when I want to highlight a particular stone because of its cut or shape or size, and then I might pull it in a bit.”

Silkiner has no shortage of inspiration: Everything inspires her, from couture dresses to European architecture. Her designs are driven by her intense desire to bring life to her images. All she needs is “a place of stillness” and creativity overtakes her.

“Most artists will say that everything inspires them and I am most definitely that artist,” Silkiner said, “I also am very inspired by people, music, their whimsy, just the way they make me feel. If a person is real happy, I might create more fun collaborations with extra movement, or if a song is sad or something, I might design monochromatic colors. I love all that emotion for my inspiration.”

She describes having a “play day” with whatever stones catch her fancy. Particularly attracted by the certain sparkle, color, or sexiness of a gemstone, Silkiner combines that feature with an unusual texture or hue, such as a raw coral piece paired with a highly faceted stone.

Silkiner believes her jewelry most resonates with confident women secure in their own styles, especially those interested in collecting one-of-a-kind items.

“Some love the intricate detail of the pieces and just the simply stated pieces as well. I really feel that a lot of my customers really enjoy playing with color,” she said. “They are not always saying ‘this will go with everything.’ They’re finding out that all the colors really do go with everything.”

Extravagant details set her jewelry apart, and she meticulously selects each stone.

“As simple as it sounds, I think I bring design with a story,” the designer explained. “For me, it’s all about design in the truest sense of the word … Many people can put a single stone on a chain, and that does have its place, for sure, I do that myself some, but I love to add some complexity to that.”

The designer is currently working on a line of statement earrings and has plans to travel to Italy to gain inspiration for new collections. In October, look for her specially crafted pink topaz earrings designed in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month; 50 percent of proceeds will benefit Living Beyond Breast Cancer.

After all these years, Silkiner is surprised that the designs keep coming. “I just figured, at some point, when I close my eyes, that my design mind would be blank or something,” she disclosed.

Still every night, she crawls into bed, shuts her eyes, and finds what designs may come.

Experience her entire collection at www.charmesilkiner.com.

Do you have a favorite piece of Silkiner's?

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Fashion / Features

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LadyLUX via Charme Silkiner

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