I purchased my first Gai Russo necklace a number of years ago. I loved it so much I bought a few pieces after-another necklace or two, earrings, you get the idea. The best part about what I bought is that I still wear them on repeat today. To me that’s a testament to the designer. Gai truly creates quality pieces that stand the test of time. She says she want to create jewelry people will want to wear every day, and I do!
How long have you been creating jewelry?
Since I first drew a peace ☮️ sign necklace on my pink rabbit stuffed animal, 1972? maybe?
What first led you in the direction of jewelry making?
How did you learn the craft?
I was originally enrolled as a fashion student at Kent (State University) but I didn’t want to learn to sew, so my friend, that had taken a jewelry class said “Try it”, so I did. I loved it but I refused to live in a dorm which is what Kent required so I moved and graduated in jewelry metals at University of Oregon in Eugene. I was the last graduate under the tutelage of Max Nixon, he made divine work out of scrap pieces of copper brass glass. He taught me the practice of making the most use out of a piece of metal, be it wire or sheet.
What are your favorite materials to work with?
Love sterling, copper, brass, gold, as my main stay, sourced sustainably. It’s exciting to use sustainably sourced stones that bring messages from the earth to the wearer but I also have a great affinity for old stock lucite and it’s polar opposite sustainably sourced wood.
Do you have a favorite piece that you’ve created and why is it your favorite?
I’d have to say my aromatic jewelry as my husband and I designed and created these together, he patented the idea and we have made 20,000 pieces by hand since 1999.
How do you use the aromatic lariat?
The lariat works like this: Open the vial of Relax oil, apply a drop or two to each side of the orb, in each of the ventilation holes. Drape the chain around the neck, drop the orb through the gold fill circle, adjust the length as needed.
I wear my lariat like a choker with the gold fill circle high around my neck and the orb hangs long, but you can change this depending on how you prefer the length.
Bring the orb up to the nose and take a deep inhalation filling up the front and back of the lungs, exhale deeply. Repeat as needed.
Your pieces are so unique, what inspires your creativity when designing a new piece of jewelry?
I’d say my clients and my nieces. I’m trying to keep up with their poetic energies and make jewelry they want to wear everyday.
Everyday I look out onto the trees and nature who presents textures, colors, and silhouettes that are deeply inspiring. Actually they are gifts!
What has been the most important jewelry making skill you’ve learned and why?
Be your authentic self, it takes time to find that out so keep at it daily, even if it’s just a quick outline of what you want to do…a few lines in a notebook or a solid 10 hour day…they all matter and come together to create your work.
What does a typical day look like for you as a jewelry designer?
Wake up, say a few affirmations, dry brush, foam roll with the Lauren Roxburgh Aligned Life Studio then off for water, coffee, smoothie…fuel your mind and body first!
Then sit down, draw a few ideas, write down a few notes and get to work.
Where do you sell your jewelry?
Here’s a few:
- Cleveland Museum of Art
- Contemporary Art Center Cincinnati
- SHED Boutique and Wellness
- Finestra Gallery
- Kilgore Trout
- Still Point Gallery
Gai’s designs are fun and timeless. I’m sure you have someone on your holiday list who would love her handmade jewelry, or maybe a gift for yourself!