Parrish Relics Interview

Adrienne Warber
"B" Necklaces
Anne Boleyn/Ugly Betty and Boleyn Rose Necklaces

Jewelry shoppers searching for handcrafted jewelry with an old world artistic style or otherworldly quality will find Parrish Relics jewelry enchanting. LoveToKnow recently interviewed jewelry artist, Jennifer Parrish of Parrish Relics to discuss her artistic vision and jewelry collection. Jennifer is the creator of the famous Ugly Betty necklace and her jewelry has appeared in TV shows and movies such as Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Her jewelry creations range from replicas of historical jewelry to modern artistic creations inspired by fine art and Venetian architecture.

Jennifer Parrish is a jewelry artist with nearly twenty years experience in design and an alumni of The School of the Museum of Fine Arts. Based in Boston, Jennifer designs unique and one-of-a-kind jewelry out of a variety of materials with intricate handcrafted details such as hand painted finishes or scrollwork. The Parrish Relics jewelry collection includes stained glass necklaces, resin amulets, pictorial pendants, historical pieces, glass vessels, circlets and crowns as well as many original bracelet and earring designs.

Parrish Relics Interview

Jennifer Parrish is an artist who began making jewelry as a small child. In adulthood, her passion for adornment grew into a thriving career.

Early Artistic Expression

LoveToKnow (LTK): What inspired you to become a jewelry artist? Did you always want to design jewelry for a living?

Jennifer Parrish: Even as a child I created accessories for my dolls out of pen springs and whatever I could find! Even toy animals received adornment. I didn't think to create for people until my Art teacher in high school suggested that I should make jewelry out of the clay that I was using to sculpt animals with. Then I was hooked and dove into learning all I could about the history of Ornament.

LTK: Describe the first piece of jewelry that you created.

Jennifer Parrish: I can't remember the very first piece, but in the early 80s it was all about batwings, cats and Egyptian imagery for me.

The Beginnings of a Successful Career

LTK: How did the Parrish Relics website business begin?

Jennifer Parrish: A friend of mine knew that I wanted to get my work online and she presented me with my first website as a gift at my wedding eleven years ago. She taught me a lot about updating it on my own and since then I have been doing the updates and changes myself. It amazes me how far it has gone with word of mouth and very minimal advertising, which has allowed me to have built up customers and collectors around the world.

Stained Glass Jewelry Stained Glass Fleur De Lis Necklace

Artistic Inspiration from Art and History

LTK: You mention that you are inspired by the "ornate and lavish designs of ages past and the romance of Venetian architecture" on your website. In addition to Venetian architecture, what other types of art inspires you? What about historical art and architecture inspires you?

Jennifer Parrish: There is something so impressive about standing in front of an ornate church that was built in a time where we didn't have the technology or machinery that we do today. People worked their whole lives on details that we don't usually see in modern structures. There is a reverence, a kind of magic that happens when there is so much for the eye to take in. The same feelings are evoked for me in the paintings of Hieronymus Bosch and the Art of the Italian Renaissance, that mystery and wonder of taking all the details in, the labor involved, the celebration of mystical elements and symbology.

Jewelry With Symbolism and Spirituality

LTK: You describe your jewelry as "symbolic and spiritual" on your website. Could you describe what you mean by symbolic and spiritual?

Jennifer Parrish: I am drawn to create jewelry with the same design elements for the spiritual calm they evoke, the idea that they were originally created to symbolize something meaningful and unexplainable. The same shapes turn up in art and in buildings of worship in India, Europe, Africa, Asia - not specific to any one religion but a general spirituality. I hope to capture some of that ambiguous spirituality in the materials I use and the rich history that stained glass and semi precious stones embody.

Reactions to Parrish Relics Jewelry

LTK: The Boston Globe called your jewelry "mythical and mysterious adornments". Gothic Beauty magazine described your jewelry "a wondrous collection of intricately designed and beautifully crafted items". What do you hope people will see in your jewelry art?

Jennifer Parrish: Hopefully something they have never seen before! Or (it) reminds them of a place they love. I am so thankful that my work has become recognizable and seems to carry on a life of its own after I have passed it on to its new owner.

Parrish Relics on Television

LTK: How did you start making jewelry for TV and film? What types of jewelry pieces were featured?

Jennifer Parrish: I was watching a show and thought one of the characters had a style similar to my own and I could see her wearing my jewelry. I went online and searched for the costume team and found a sales representative that sold directly to TV and film and contacted her. She saw that I offered something unique and brought it around to the costume designers and art departments in Los Angeles, NYC and London.

The Ugly Betty Necklace

LTK: What is the story behind the necklace worn by Ugly Betty star America Ferrera?

Jennifer Parrish: Over ten years ago I created a replica of a necklace I had seen in paintings of Anne Boleyn. It fascinated me as the necklace held so much of her story within it, her tragic death and the brutality of that time period. At the same time, such attention was put into adorning the body, wearing your own personal symbols and affiliations as a statement. It is the one direct copy of a Historical piece I offer on my website for sale, so it is unusual. A Boleyn necklace was on its way to London to be shown for consideration for a period film, but was first seen by Patricia Field in NYC who is the Costume Designer for Ugly Betty. She chose it for America to wear, now it seems to have become such a wonderful part of her character's look for the past three seasons. I get excited every time I see her wearing it.

Parrish Relics in Harry Potter

LTK: Which of your jewelry pieces were featured in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix?

Jennifer Parrish: A Stained Glass trefoil design, with garnet beads and matching earrings was worn by a member of the Order Emmeline Vance, played by Bridgette Millar.

Pictorial Renaissance Angel with Labradorite and Pearls

Future Plans

LTK: What are your future plans for Parrish Relics?

Jennifer Parrish: In October (2009) I will be participating at the Medieval Faire at the Cloisters Museum in NYC. I am very excited about this show as it is in one of my favorite places! In November (2009), I will be traveling to Maryland for the third FaerieCon, a fun show that has some of the most creatively designed booths and costumes I have ever seen! Not to mention the Costumed Balls each night with fantastic music! Well worth traveling to.

I hope to continue my work for The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and may also be working with a British Museum for a special collection next year.

I would like to work with developing my new Etsy shop more. I love being part of an online artist community, it is a fascinating place and I have much to learn.

Where to Buy Parrish Relics Jewelry

To learn more about Jennifer and her jewelry, visit the official Parrish Relics website.

Parrish Relics Interview