Today I’d like to introduce to you a special project which I’ve been working on for the past few months – a limited collection of semi precious beaded necklaces, which I’ve made available for sale at a separate destination, called PASSAGE 88. PASSAGE 88 was originally a website I created for my travel writing, so that Feather Factor could focus solely on fashion/interviews. But as things turned out, travel ended up being a big component of this blog, so I ended up keeping it here. I’ve always loved the name, so I thought it would be a fitting home for my new project.
I should explain that in my day job, I work as a product manager – which means that I develop and launch consumer technology products. I never thought that my career would end up in a role like this, but I love it. Taking a product from concept, all the way to launch and ultimately seeing it on store shelves, is an incredible experience. I’ve learned so much – everything from finding the best suppliers, to manufacturing, to quality control, and much more. And the fact is, unless I make something that people actually want to buy, at the right price for them – I haven’t done my job.
There are so many items that I feel like I’m always searching for. I buy versions upon versions and spend time looking for those “perfect pieces” – but I can’t find them, either because they don’t exist, or the cost is too high, or I don’t like the materials. A few months ago, I started to think – why not make something myself? I had been looking for the perfect long necklace for years. I knew I wanted something made with quality stones and precious metal, that I could wear both casually and formally. Something that made a statement, yet didn’t weigh a ton or look too trendy. I didn’t want to spend thousands, yet a lot of the less expensive versions I saw just seemed badly made, of poor value, or too mass produced. Over time I started to sketch out what my perfect necklace would look like, thought about my favorite materials, style elements, and eventually started to bring my creation to life. I was inspired by memories of a necklace my mom used to wear all the time when I was growing up.
I worked with a company in Asia which helped me source beautiful, high grade stones in materials such as labradorite. The same jeweler also had their team hand carve custom dragon ball gemstones just for me, which are the focal point of each necklace. And then finally back in the United States, a small team of artisans ultimately crafted and put the necklaces together. The natural malachite, onyx and gold necklace below is one of my favorites – the deep green is just enough to add a small pop of color to my neutral outfits.
I’m really proud of what we created. I managed and obsessed over every single component. Each of these necklaces are made with high quality, noble materials. The beads are all semi precious stones like malachite, onyx, and chalcedony. The focal point of each piece – the ornate dragon ball – have each been hand carved. The sterling silver and 22K gold vermeil accents are precious metals all the way through (vermeil is gold over sterling silver – unlike gold “plated” which I learned is usually just a super thin layer of gold over a much cheaper material). The tassels are fat, long and made of pure silk. And the necklace is entirely hand knotted, which not only gives a more luxurious look, but the special nylon/silk thread I chose for them is super strong, which ensures that you can wear them for years to come. I’ve been wearing mine all the time when we go out, and I’m happy to report that they almost always garner compliments and queries about where to purchase (a good portion of the initial production has been already pre-sold this way!).
The necklaces start at $250, and you can learn more about each one, and purchase them, at PASSAGE 88. Thank you so much for your time in visiting me here over the years, and I hope some of you will enjoy PASSAGE 88 as well, where I will be sharing hopefully more creations and discoveries to come. As always, I welcome any feedback and suggestions!