Five years ago, we kicked off a series called Leading Ladies, featuring some of our favorite tastemakers, bloggers, and business owners and collaborating on a one-of-a-kind Elva Fields necklace for each of them. From the wonderfully colorful Joy Cho of Oh Joy! to the dynamic duo behind Cool Mom Picks, the talented Cassandra LaValle of coco + kelley and the beautiful Bri Emery of designlovefest among others, we had such fun creating signature looks for each lady. 

This time around, we're re-launching the Leading Ladies series with a twist, asking each lovely lady our latest question: What's In Your Jewelry Box?  Their vintage (sometimes heirloom!) jewelry becomes the springboard for the design, and we work together to co-create an entirely new, wearable, fresh, and fun look especially for them with the materials. 

First up is a gal who has created an entire business and lifestyle around appreciating and enjoying heirloom treasures. In fact, this is what founder and designer Ashley Schoenith of heirloomed states as her company's mantra:

The most cherished and beloved things one can own cannot be purchased. They must first be used and loved and enjoyed. Memories must be created, laughter had and good times spent. And only then, these things become treasures, passed down for generations to come. The next generation will appreciate this "thing" even more than you do.

Knowing this (and based on her company's name alone) it seemed highly probable she'd be up for the Leading Ladies: WIYJB? fun...and that she'd have some pretty wonderful jewelry with which to work. 

We were not disappointed. Ashley sent along some amazing pieces from her vintage jewelry box (you should see the beautiful way she stores it, seen above and here on her blog) for us to consider for the project. 

Emily of Elva Fields (EF):  The vintage jewelry you sent is beautiful--how did you acquire it? Are they family heirlooms? Do you have any memories or stories associated with them?

Ashley of heirloomed (AS): Well, as you know I love all things vintage, especially when they are truly family heirlooms that have been passed down to me. I was so fortunate to have inherited some jewelry from my grandmother’s collection. I sent over a few choices for you, many of those were from my grandma but the brass beads we ended up going with were actually from my mom. I remember her wearing them when I was younger.

[The beads were] originally a short necklace that fell midway down the neck with lots of strands, so to see it today as something completely different design-wise is just amazing. The necklace broke many years ago, probably 15 years or so, and they’ve been sitting in my armoire in my bedroom inside a crumbled little paper bag just waiting for a special project. And to be able to bring these back to life in a new way is so special to me.

Though we sent a few proposals featuring some of the other vintage materials she sent our way (below), the bronze beads jumped out to both of us as the style to pursue.

About this above proposal that combines her heirloom beads with a few from our collections, including faceted brass from India and Africa, and a vintage braided goldtone chain at back, Ashley noted, "I love this piece so much. I am such a neutral person that I think this is probably something I'd authentically wear all the time." We considered a few other vintage chain styles for the back of the necklace (see below) but ultimately both decided the braided version suited the bead assortment best.

Once we finished up the design, we sent it to Ashley to enjoy and photograph.

EF:  How might you wear them now as your new necklace? Where/what occasion--everyday look or more special occasion?

AS: I think the beauty of this new piece is that it is so transitional - it could be worn for with an everyday look, like a tank top to dress it up a bit for a girls night or even just a work / school function to look a little more put together. Or, it could totally go with a little black dress look for an event or even church. I love pieces that can take you anywhere, especially accessories since I like to keep my wardrobe pieces more in the capsule collection / basics arena. And because everything is metallic / brass / gold and neutral here, again totally my style, I know this piece will be a staple in my wardrobe. But even more special is the heirloom component, which will make me want to wear them even more often. I love how Emily mixed the tones and textures and really added elements that kept this piece feeling current for today but also reminiscent of its history and roots..


What an honor to be part of this process with her; in incorporating materials she cherished but wasn't able to wholly enjoy and creating a new heirloom for her to wear happily and with delight in the memories it holds...and to possibly pass down to generations to come.  

After all, Ashley explained that, "Many of our goods are based on vintage designs so I am always on the hunt for vintage jewelry (some you can find on our Vintage Goods section of the site) when I go out to antique markets and thrift stores. It would be such a dream for me to one day design a collection of jewelry as part of our assortment that is based on vintage pieces."

Perhaps this is a sneak peek at more to come from Ashley at heirloomed! Until was a pleasure to collaborate with a Leading Lady who treasures history, legacy, things handed down, and family in much the same way we do. Thanks, Ashley!


images by Emily Maynard for Elva Fields and Heidi Geldhauser for heirloomed

  • Posted byEmily Maynard /


  • Posted On September 28, 2017 by Annette Harrison

    I love what you are doing with family heirlooms & the stories behind them. I may have to start looking through my old jewelry. What a great idea. Thanks so much for sharing.

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