With degrees from Hollins University (Roanoke, Virginia) in both French and Art History, owner/designer Emily Wheat Maynard quickly discovered a passion for the history of jewelry in her graduate work at The Bard Graduate Center: Decorative Arts, Design History, and Material Culture in New York City. Her Masters thesis explored the relationship between Italian Renaissance and ancient Greek and Roman jewelry, which inspired a semester at the Jewelry Arts Institute in Manhattan. Here, she acquired metalworking skills in the ancient tradition and, simultaneously, a recognition that it might be possible to combine interests in the study of jewelry and the creation of it.
Elva Fields Jewelry, started in 2003, is the result of this dual fascination, indulging both the academic and artistic facets within the designer. Emily scours local and far-flung markets, auctions, and shops for unusual vintage and antique pieces to use in all three of the Elva Fields lines—Elva, June, and Deb—which are named for the artist’s great-grandmother, grandmother, and mother, respectively. The treasured finds are then reconfigured and incorporated in unexpected, timeless designs. One might find a strand of old paste pearls with an antique carved ivory brooch as its pendant, or a 1930s Bakelite belt buckle clasping glittering chains from just a decade later. Elva Fields Jewelry is made by hand and with love by Emily and her amazing assistant Grace in their respective Kentucky homes and studio, often with children and/or (mostly) happy chaos underfoot.
above left, Emily with her great-grandmother Elva Fields Bivens Cooke
above right, Emily in her Kentucky studio