The Artist: Raised in Florida, Pamela Huizenga’s passion for stones was sparked at age 16 when she landed an apprenticeship with a local gem cutter and began faceting stones, which she unearthed in his North Carolina mine, using a machine in her family’s garage. At 19, Huizenga started her first jewelry-dealing company and scoured gem fairs for vibrant opals, tsavorites, and aquamarine. She ran a jewelry boutique for the better part of a decade before taking time off to spend with her growing family, but her fascination with beautiful stones never waned. “I always wanted to create my own jewelry, but I just never had the confidence,” she explains. “I wasn’t trained as a designer, and I wasn’t a very good drawer and couldn’t do renderings, but I was always inspired by the stones.” By 2009, Huizenga had dusted off her old faceting machine, sharpened her design skills, and founded her eponymous brand—opening her studio in northern Florida.
Technique: For Huizenga, the creative process begins with the stones. “My biggest joy is when I’m looking at a cool, interesting stone and am able to visualize the whole jewelry piece then and there,” she says. But oftentimes she chooses a gem before fully deciding how it will work in a design, relying on a small team of goldsmiths to assist in crafting simple, functional settings. “I’m not big on metal embellishment,” Huizenga explains. “I don’t like to take anything away from the stone; each has its own character, and that’s what I find so intriguing.” Huizenga is a skilled lapidary (she taught herself how to cut cabochon gems) and, though she partners with goldsmiths, she is mostly a one-woman show, conceptualizing designs and cutting gems solo in her studio, which she refers to as “a stone junkie’s paradise.” She typically works on several pieces at a time, each taking anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to complete, depending on its complexity.
Jewelry: Huizenga favors bold stones like turquoise, jade, lustrous gold-toned Ethiopian opals, and crimson Mexican fire opals, as well as unconventional organic materials like fossils and petrified wood. Recent standout creations include an 18-karat gold bracelet that frames a lively mix of Alaskan fossilized coral, freshwater baroque pearl, Turritella sea snail fossils, a natural trilobite fossil, and diamonds (price upon request). Huizenga’s talents are displayed in an impeccably detailed 9.94-carat, green-jade Buddha ring, which debuted late last year and sits atop an 18-karat gold gallery made with diamonds and cutouts of lotus blossoms. With this year’s Silver Lining collection, Huizenga makes a departure from heavier gemstones and unique fossils to experiment with delicate lines and negative space. The new works comprise crisp blue and white chalcedony in curved cloud-like designs lined with white diamonds (from $4,000).
Where to Get it: Appointments with Huizenga are available upon request. Designs are also available in select Neiman Marcus stores. (Pamela Huizenga, pamelahuizenga.com)