Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Jamee Jones, who just happens to be the owner of Jonara Blu Maui.For those of you who don’t know, Jonara Blu is known for it beautifully hand-crafted jewelry that takes inspiration from the Hawaiian islands. I had the opportunity to ask Jamee five questions regarding her business and a little bit about Maui as well.
1. When did you get started making jewelry? Was it something you always knew you wanted to do?
I started creating my first jewelry pieces when only 9 years old. I had a babysitter who would bring this shoe box over full of little bottles of beads and findings and she would teach me how to make necklaces. She ended up giving it to me and I was one happy little girl, I used those beads up until they were all gone. I never knew how to get my hands on any more until I was out on my own and married. I was ecstatic in 1988 when I learned there was such a thing as a bead shop. I got my collection up again (mostly of the little glass seed beads) and started beading with my friends grandmother who spoke no english but managed to teach me to make brick stitch earrings. The kind that look Native American and hang with a fringe.
I did not think of creating jewelry for a business really until I started working for a local ceramic jewelry artist and friend here on Maui. Having taken many art classes and having the knack for painting, I picked up right away on how to paint intricate designs on ceramic beads for this artist. I was also trained how to string the very well made and heavy ceramic jewelry designs that she sold in local galleries. My experience with her allowed me to learn a little about the business side of jewelry making as well. So being constantly inspired with new ideas for my own line and needing money to fund the kind of components I wanted (semi-precious gemstones, pearls and sterling silver), in 2002 I branched out on my own. I sold at local craft fairs and the swap-meets to begin with. In May of 2003, I launched my online shop through RubyLane, and since then, my jewelry has been discovered and carried by "B-Side the Sea" in Poole, England and I’ve been fortunate enough to be commissioned for a couple of large corporate gift orders, one being Volvo Trucks.
2. What type of jewelry do you specialize in?
While I make different types of "island inspired" jewelry, I most definitely specialize in beach wedding jewelry. It’s romantic and feminine with a beachy-organic appeal.
3. What inspires the current type of jewelry you make?
Of course being surrounded by such amazing beauty here on the island of Maui is a constant inspiration that is always there for me to pull from. The many brightly colorful flowers are a big inspiration, the ocean and it’s shells and sea life, as well as I have especially been inspired by the islands many beach brides. I’d like to think my jewelry has a certain romance to it…but in a laid back island way
4. On what part of Maui do you live and how long have you lived here? Where can people find your jewelry?
I live in upcountry Maui and I have lived here for over 16 years. We came here to live near family on both my husbands side and my side that had moved here before us. Today, many more family members have moved over as well and it’s so wonderful to have them here.
You can find my full line of jewelry in my shop at RubyLane: http://www.jonarablumaui.com
If you are a fan of shopping at Etsy I also have a shop there: http://www.jonarablu.etsy.com
5. What is your favorite part of the island and why?
Hands down my favorite part is upcountry. For one, it’s not as hot and we actually get to experience a bit of difference in seasons up here. This winter has been cold and I’m loving it! (Not too cold though, I’d be a wuss on the mainland!) Plus, it’s beautiful with green rolling hills scattered with horses and cows and a spectacular view of the ocean with the most amazing sunsets you’ve ever seen!I have the best of both worlds living up here since it doesn’t take very long to get to the beach!
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