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Finding Silver Linings

By Kelsey Hoak

Christie Melene Kent, jewelry designer and owner of Melene Kent Jewels, lives by Christian Dior’s mantra, “Zest is the secret of all beauty. There is no beauty that is attractive without zest.” After learning from her grandmother to live her life with zest, she has continued to live by this motto and wants it to shine through in her designs and business.

Kent grew up surrounded by design and fashion because her grandmother and mother were both buyers and designers of jewelry for big department stores in Manhattan. As a child, Kent would make little crafts and bracelets, selling them door to door. Even though creative design ran in the family, she never thought it would be in her future.

"I never considered doing something artistic as a career," said Kent.

Kent was always business oriented and went the traditional route. In 1998, she received a bachelor’s degree in health policy and management from Providence College. In that same year, Kent suffered from many seizures and had a major brain surgery. While she will never know for sure, she often wonders if part of her creative side was brought out after the surgery.

"Life is about the silver linings, and I look for them whenever I can,” said Kent.

After graduating, she went into the corporate world for many years, but she eventually left to go on maternity leave. With some time off, Kent had time to tap into her true creative self. She ended up taking some classes in metalsmithing at the Boston Center for Adult Education. With her new skills and prior experience, she started making jewelry. Kent started working with stones and went on to incorporate different metals into her designs. Appreciative friends and family asked her to make them pieces of jewelry and loved what she created. In 2007, Melene Kent Jewels was established.

Kent’s designs are not for the typical woman. Her clients want something unique and handmade. She puts a twist on classic designs; her sophisticated rocker style is chic and traditional with an edge. She uses symbols like the eternal circle and the evil eye, as well as materials such as stones, crystals, recycled African vinyl, pave diamonds, gold, and silver.

“Most clients want their jewelry to evoke meaningfulness and to have something with a personal connection,” said Kent.

Kent makes appointments with her clients to create personalized pieces. She loves to make a client’s vision come to life and is always learning new things from collaborations.

“When I design each piece, I keep in mind the end result and hope that the person will wear the jewelry in health and happiness,” said Kent.

Kent even spots women wearing her designs when she is walking down the street. She is also proud of the fact that her jewelry is worn internationally.

"I love the idea that people all over the world are wearing jewelry that I design," said Kent.

To create her designs, Kent gets inspiration from people she finds interesting, like Buccellati and Alexis Bittar. Nature, too, inspires her designs. For example, she designs a piece by finding something at the beach like a barnacle. She then takes the barnacle and casts a mold, which she uses to create the final product.

Kent’s jewelry designs include bracelets, earrings, headpieces, necklaces, and ring sets. Necklaces are mostly pendant style and can range from $50 to over $200, depending on the stones, metals, or complexity of the design. Ring sets, stud earrings, and bracelets range from $25 to $80.

At the moment, Melene Kent Jewels is a one-woman show. Kent runs the website, the books, and the budget, and she creates all the designs and jewelry. She plans to hire an apprentice and more help in the future. As the business grows, Kent wants to maintain the handmade quality of the product, as she does not want the product to lose its value.

"I stand by the quality of my jewelry and my designs," said Kent.

Kent has faced some challenges with juggling the business and raising a family. With the passing of time, she has been able to focus on escalating the business and get back to what she loves doing.

Kent’s jewelry is sold on her website and through shoptiques.com, a website where customers can explore thousands of boutiques in one place. Kent's designs can also be purchased locally at Exhale on Arlington Street and Crush on Newbury Street in Boston’s Back Bay.

melenekentjewels.com

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