The first time I met Nicolette was at the Kristi Boutique Fall fashion show, she told me she’d read the interview Whirl magazine did with me back in July, and had been wanting to meeting me ever since (how lovely!).  As soon as she introduced herself I knew I would have to feature her as part of my Stylish Pittsburgh series, she had such a chic and understated style, peppered with a little quirkiness, it was the perfect back drop to the beautiful sculptural jewelry she was wearing and it came as no surprise to me to learn that she was an artist and jewelry designer

Me, Nicolette and Liz Petoniak

For our interview, she invited me to her showroom and workshop in the beautiful home she shares with her husband in Aspinwall.  When I arrived, I was welcomed by a huge mug of freshly brewed coffee, and a sperad of delicious French baguette, fluffy cream cheese and apricot preserves…FYI, this is the welcome all her NJS guests receive when they come for studio visit – now that’s what I call customer service!  We spent the morning chatting about art, style and jewelry, I was struck by Nicolette’s passion for her art and by how driven she is to making her
jewelry business a success!

In our interview below, Nicolette talks about the inspiration behind her jewelry, setting up a business in Pittsburgh and what influences her personal style. So pop the kettle on, brew a cuppa and enjoy!

NJS showroom
NJS Showroom

First off, tell me a little bit about yourself, how long you’ve been in Pittsburgh and what inspired you to start creating jewelry.

I moved here in my mid-20s and fell in love with the city!  Pittsburgh is such a great place to live.  It has a big city feel yet with a small town comfort with wonderful museums, music, restaurants and affordable places to live.  My husband Jeff and I are big foodies and love trying all the fabulous restaurants in and around the city.  We really love living in Pittsburgh and are happy we made it our home!

I actually started creating jewelry for my own enjoyment both to wear and as a creative outlet.  My jewelry pieces began as a way of expressing my own personal style.  I love creating various colors and manipulating texture.  I love the whole creative process from inspiration, to design, to the actual creation of the piece.  And then of course wearing the jewelry I create as part of a total look.  I believe that what we choose to wear on the outside is an expression of who we are or what we feel on the inside.  I see the entire outfit someone is wearing, the way a look is put together is like a work of art; the picture they painted so to speak.  And accessories, especially jewelry, is a big part of that for me.

Pittsburgh is a city that really seems to support local designers and businesses, it’s one of the things I really like about this city. Tell us a little about your experiences setting up your business in Pittsburgh and how you got to where you are today!

I have been creating for as long as I can remember, but Nicolette Jewelry Sculptures really got rolling about 10 years ago.  One day I was out and about on the town when a very stylish woman asked me where I got my beautiful necklace and it all started from there.  Over time, I am very happy to say I have built a following of NJS devotees mostly through referrals.  I love knowing my customers and find that because they are so fashionable they also serve as a point of inspiration for my creations.  I create with the style aficionado in mind!  My clientele love wearing totally unique clothing and accessories that make a bold fashion statement.  We are kindred spirits!

Where do you get the inspiration from for your designs and who do you design for?

Nicolette Jewelry Sculptures is high fashion, handcrafted artisan jewelry.  So I think of my jewelry creations as where current fashion trends and my own unique artisanal spin combine.  I do follow fashion not only because I think of fashion as living art but also because my clientele is very up to the minute on trends in what they wear.  They take today’s trends and incorporate them into their own personal style.  Nothing stagnate; they are constantly evolving as is my jewelry.  The NJS customer is not interested in something cookie-cutter.  She wants something totally unique and that will evoke her own stylish sensibilities.  I create statement-making jewelry that combines the latest fashion concepts with meticulous artisanal handcrafting with unique, high quality materials.  The medium that threads through my entire line is an eco-friendly, premium quality, upcycled leather.  I design, shape and hand paint each piece myself.  Each piece is unique and made in limited edition.

When you’re not wearing your own creations, are there any other local accessory designers you love to wear?  And what are your favorite shops to head to when shopping for accessories?

I completely agree there is so many talented artists in Pittsburgh for jewelry and accessories!  I actually do wear my own NJS pieces most of the time not just because I create what I would actually wear in real life but also because I look at myself as my own living laboratory for feedback from fellow stylish gals.  When I create a new piece, I will wear it out and about ahead of its release, even during the creative process, to get reactions and feedback from other stylish people and from my customers too.  I think of my jewelry as a constant work in progress.  Also I am lucky in that I have been given some amazing vintage pieces from my grandmother, mother and some pins that were my Aunt Margie’s, who was also my godmother.  Those pieces are near and dear to my heart.  I mix them in with my NJS looks!  Pursuits Boutique in Shadyside is wonderful!  I am a bit biased since they carry a small selection of my jewelry but their clothing and accessories are lovely! 

My favorite question to ask is what people think about Pittsburgh’s style, I’m discovering so much about the city’s style scene, it’s brilliant…there is so much more to it than sportswear!  So, what do you think about Pittsburgh’s style, and how would you describe it?

Yes I completely agree!  There is so much style in Pittsburgh.  I get style inspiration from people every day.  And Pittsburgh style it is so varied and eclectic; I think that’s what I love about it best.  I see everything from crisp classic looks, to hip modern edgy styles, even boho chic and more.

How about your own style? Describe your personal style, what influences it and why it works for you?

That might be hard to pin down!  I just wear what feels right to me.  I think I would describe it as casual, modern chic but definitely with an arty edge!  And my edge most definitely comes from adding pieces from my NJS collection.  But as far as clothing, shoes and handbags, I always want to look contemporary, up to the minute but also wear what work bests with my body type.

Mostly I like a balance of casual and dressy all in the same look such as pairing jeans and suede booties with a dressy blouse and tailored cropped jacket.  Or dress pants, a silk blouse with a leather moto jacket and metallic loafers.  I like that juxtaposition of mixing sophisticated and feminine elements together.  And of course always topped off with an edgy piece of jewelry!  I just don’t feel “dressed” without it!

To me what’s also important is the quality of the fabrics we wear plus shape and fit.  Especially as time goes on, the quality of the garment, how well it is made and the fabric are even more important to look right.  Also shoes are so important to me.  I have to feel comfortable.  I have to admit I am a bit of a “suede ankle bootie, cropped jacket and jeans” outfit junkie!  I could wear this look almost every day!

Lastly, what’s your most treasured item in your closet?

It’s hard to narrow it down to only one!  First, my antique wedding ring from my wonderful husband Jeff.  I treasure that the most!  Second, I love my bias cut silk wedding dress that I bought when walking down the street in SoHo a few months before our wedding.  It was on a mannequin in the window and when I saw it I knew it would be absolutely perfect.  And third, I am loving my new rockin’ black leather moto jacket from Lucky Brand.  It looks great with everything from a silky floral dress to jeans and my Adidas tennis shoes.

To find out more more about Nicolette Jewelry Sculptures, visit her website or Facebook page


If you’d like to check out the other stylish Pittsburghers I’ve
interviewed, and find out more about #stylishpittsburgh campaign then
head over here!

if you’re a local boutique or style-obsessed Pittsburgher and would
like to be featured, or maybe you know someone who you think deserves to
be featured?  Get in touch!!