Meet the Lady Who Makes Everything Old New Again.

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Jessica RICCI

Founder, Jessica Ricci Jewelry

Jessica RicciFeatured Lady Jessica Ricci draws upon her own experience as a journalist, English teacher, world traveler and artist to create hand-crafted designs that are anchored in symbolism, history and sentimentality. She launched Jessica Ricci Jewelry after realizing that transforming her global flea market treasures could be an interesting business. Jessica’s designs are inspired directly by the countries she visits, where she discovers items with past lives and reincarnates them into jewelry. Her eclectic designs have appeared in Lucky, New York Magazine, Gem Gossip, GoLocalProv, Apartment Therapy, and on Rhode Show. Actress Jennifer Love Hewitt has also been spotted in Jessica’s jewelry.

A native of Rhode Island, Jessica attended college in Massachusetts, volunteered with an emergency services agency in Montana and interned for George magazine in New York City. When Jessica earned her master’s degree in journalism from NYU, she was ready for broadcast media. “I had it in my mind that I was going to be some kind of foreign correspondent living a glamorous life in Italy,” she says. Just in case, Jessica got certified to teach English.

Jessica spent three and a half years in Italy, enjoying her Sundays at the chaotic and sprawling flea market called porta portese. Although Jessica’s career in broadcasting didn’t pan out, and too many people already spoke English for her to earn a living teaching, she found a new interest at the flea market – antiques. “I was entranced by the old plates, mirrors, furniture and chandelier parts,” Jessica says. “But what I really fell in love with were the little cards called santini that depict the iconography of the saints; their lives and demise, generally.”

Intrigued, Jessica began reading about the different patronages associated with these icons. “I thought that the combination of a believed mojo and really beautiful vintage images could make for interesting jewelry,” she says.

Jessica found an Italian metal smith to make samples of the little frames that would house miniature versions of the cards she painstakingly collected. Her most difficult part of her self-taught career was getting the Romans to scan and shrink the images, which Jessica had to return to the states to have done. Soon, she realized that the idea of transforming what she found at her beloved flea markets could be an interesting concept. Knowing she needed to get serious about a career, Jessica combined two loves – jewelry and to travel, and her company was born.

What makes Jessica’s designs different is that she physically has to travel to find something to make into jewelry. Essentially, the country and its bazaar or market would offer the object that would beg to be translated into jewelry. “I need to somehow make something that isn’t just nice to look at but reflective of a time and place,” Jessica explains. “I have to have the experience before anything can be made.”

For example, Jessica was fortunate to spend a few weeks volunteering at an orphanage in Nepal. She then traveled to Tibet to find something to make into jewelry. Her best Jessica Ricci Jewelry moment was a documentary video of her experiences. “It took me from Kathmandu to Tibet and back and then showed how I find the piece and transform it. I put it to music and it made me really emotional,” explains Jessica. Just to see the documentary helped me to see things as real.”

In addition to Rome, Tibet and Nepal, this sentimental treasure hunter has also traveled to Mumbai, Udaipur, Delhi, Paris, Iceland and San Francisco to find inspiration.

Jessica is now working with Nest, a nonprofit organization that empowers female artists and artisans around the world. “I would love to volunteer in these countries, search the markets and then make enough in sales to give back to the places I am able to serve in,” she says. “I would like my brand to be associated with exploration and transformation in some kind of way.”

What we learned from Jessica: “It’s hard to do things on your own, a good ear can save you a bad decision.”

Look Before Leaping
“Think. Think before you act. Ask questions. Look at what other people are doing. I didn’t do this enough in fear of somehow copying or losing my originality.”

Money Matters
“I learned that it takes money to make money; especially when you start with a really abstract idea.”

This Featured Lady was profiled by Megan L. Reese, WORDrobe® Stylist for Her Write Image in West Grove, PA.

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