Bellevue jewelry designer Maja Arnold has long held a passion for fashion, style, and design. But it is her strength and ability to transform a painful loss into meaningful, custom monogram necklaces worn close to the heart that are inspiring others to share their stories through her unique designs.
425: What inspired you to design your line of custom monogram necklaces?
Arnold: The idea for monogram jewelry came to me when I lost one of my twins. I was wearing meaningless jewelry and wanted so desperately to find something to wear in my daughter’s memory as an assurance that she is still with me.
I have a degree in typography, and I have been an artist all my life. So, the idea of blending capital letters, as many as six, to create original, modern, and meaningful symbols came (naturally) to me.
I felt a need to have all three children with me. I wanted a personal message behind the symbol that was original, modern, and one of a kind. I searched for meaningful jewelry, but I couldn’t find anything that resonated with me. I sketched my first design with the (initials) of my three children (and) … I wore the necklace close to my heart as a way to keep my children with me at all times. Soon, people took notice of my design. People were asking me about it, and they started talking to me about the initials they would use. And I realized we all have a story.
My business is about creating every piece using inspiration from each person and (the) unique story behind their initials. Each necklace is different because we are all different. I wanted to create nontraditional, spiritual jewelry using modern, sleek lines.
425: You were raised in Slovakia, and also modeled across Europe and in North America. How have your background and prior experiences influenced your work?
Arnold: I have been an artist all my life. I have loved fashion, style, art, and design since childhood. When I was 16, a modeling agent discovered me and I broke into the fashion industry as a model. I met so many amazing and talented people. I was inspired by stylists, designers, make-up artists, and choreographers. Every single person in my life inspired me in one way or another. I knew that I wanted to be a designer and create something unique and beautiful.
425: Tell us about your design technique and how you arrange the type to create truly unique pieces.
Arnold: I hand-sketch each design, and clients can choose from two different sketches. I blend as many as six capital letters to create an original design. After the client chooses their favorite design, we handcraft the pendant. Made in Seattle, they are digitally rendered, wax molded, and cast in pure sterling silver or gold. The custom process takes two to three weeks.
425: In addition to custom-designed necklaces, you also offer several predesigned pieces. Tell us more.
Arnold: I created a unique and artistic “Life Collection” that includes inspiring words: LOVE, LIVE, HAPPY, GOD, FAITH, and HOPE. They can be layered with any other jewelry. I wear a GOD, FAITH, and the initials of my children. They are definitely a conversation piece.
425: Tell us about your giving-back initiative.
Arnold: Giving back is very important to me. Since I had a child who passed away and a son who was only 3 years old dealing with cancer, I understand that sharing my inspiring story, and the stories of other people, (can) help. I created “Inspiring Stories” on my website to share my clients’ stories. I also give 3 percent from each sale to Seattle Children’s Hospital as a thank you, and in hope of helping others who need it. Hearing people’s stories is the most beautiful thing that has ever happened to me. majaarnold.com