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Meet: Jewelry Designer Lindley Gray

I met Lindley through a mutual friend (Alicia from Lingua Nigra). Alicia and I were chatting at Capsule, a trade show in LA and she mentioned Lindley had just moved to Philadelphia. A few weeks later Lindley and I met up at one of our favorite local coffee shops, La Colombe and ended up chatting for the longest time. I was so fascinated with her specific point of view, her jewelry is gorgeous and everything goes together in just the right way. I loved getting to visit her beautiful home, and see her inspiring studio. Her sketches are lovely, and it was really fun to see how the work evolves. Read on to hear about her career in jewelry and about her personal style:
Lindley wears the Kyouko Pant in Deep Olive.
You recently made a big move from New York City to Fishtown, Philadelphia - what were your biggest motivators to leave behind such a big city? This was a tough one. I spent 13 years there straight out of high school, and it’s my favorite place in the world. But when my husband needed to move here for his business, I decided to look at it as an adventure and an opportunity to try something new. The fact that I go back really often for work has made it a slightly easier transition.
With the rise of Etsy and “DIY”,  handmade jewelry has become very popular. What led you to choose to make fine jewelry?  I think it was a natural evolution for me, as I love to be challenged. I started selling beaded jewelry very young, then moved into brass and silver metalsmithing, and when my technical skills were developed enough, I began taking on commissions in gold. My first fine collection came a while after that. With fine jewelry, I’ll never be able to learn everything, it’s just not possible. But the materials demand a respect that inspires me to learn as much as I can technically and as a designer.
Lindley wears the Kyouko Pant in Deep Olive.
Where does your process begin for designing new pieces? What do you find inspiring you the most? I sketch a lot, so I usually have an idea in mind before I have the chance to actually begin a piece. I go back into my sketchbook and pick up where I left off. Most of my inspiration comes from design of the past--an antique bracelet, a detail on a vintage dress, wonderful architecture, etc.  My current collection is inspired by Art Deco era textiles, and I’ve collected books on designers from the era for years, not knowing they’d become inspiration for jewelry at some point.
What’s a typical day like for you? It definitely depends on the week right now, but I balance my time between actually making jewelry and working on all the other aspects of a small business. I create these endless to do lists, and I just try to tackle what I can in a certain day. I am also involved in my husband’s architectural metal fabrication business here in Fishtown, and am always checking in on current projects.
Can you remember any career-defining moments or decisions and what they taught you? Having others critique your work is hard, but I live for it. I recently had the opportunity to present my work at an industry event, with more established designers there to give feedback. I was advised not to worry about price point as much, and I have taken that to heart with specific pieces. Pricing is very important, but sacrificing details isn’t worth it.
Lindley wears the Enia Gauze Robe in Gray.
What is something you wish you would have known sooner about being and becoming a jeweler? I wish I had known how social of an industry it is! I am more of an introvert by nature, but the jewelry industry has helped push me out of my comfort zone on many occasions, and likely will for a long time to come.
What is your favorite piece of everyday jewelry? Favorite piece of special occasion jewelry? For every day, a pair of square hoop earrings I haven’t released yet. They’re easy to wear and feel like I’ve owned them forever. For special occasions, my grandmother’s vintage cocktail ring that is a great conversation starter.
Do you have creative outlets outside of jewelry making? I love to cook, and
have been doing it for fun since I was in my teens. It’s hard to find time to experiment as much these days and host, but when I do it feels extra special. I’m currently trying to recreate a dish from the now closed Angelica’s Kitchen in NYC!
Since moving to Philadelphia, what are your favorite spots to shop and eat? I love the quaint feeling of Old first purchase there was from 36 Craven. I found the most wonderful antique table and fell in love with their old meets new aesthetic. I’ve found some wardrobe gems at Vagabond, too. Food wise, I’m obsessed with Suraya here in Fishtown. It’s gorgeous Lebanese fare in the most welcoming environment. But all in all, as I’m a picky vegan, I think you really can’t beat a trip to the Rittenhouse Sq. Farmer’s Market, then coming home and making enough food to last a week! We are spoiled here in Philadelphia with close access to such wonderful farms.
Lindley wears the Jovita Dress in Sumac.
How would you describe your personal style? How do you want clothes to make you feel? For everyday, sophisticated comfort is what I’m all about. I wear mostly black or white because I’m very picky about colors and patterns, and it helps to keep things simple. I really appreciate quality fabrics. And I rely on accessories, obviously jewelry, but shoes, too. After living in New York and walking everywhere, the hunt for a great shoe became a priority!
What are your most coveted pieces of jewelry and clothing that you could not live without? My yellow gold and black diamond wedding bands, which are pretty new to me, but already feel like part of my body. Any pair of Rachel Comey shoes I own because of their quality, design and comfort. And a black linen dress by Creatures of Comfort that works for literally any occasion. All very simple, but reliable constants for me.

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