There is a fanciful quality to Inada’s sublte jewelry; the classic forms of which do not share the often stagnant, homogenous look of mass produced brands.
The slightly imperfect mien of her pieces, which are keenly influenced by natural surroundings, highlight granulated and faceted metals along with forms patterned after spiky twigs, and the lacy surfaces of sea coral.
Even the name of Inada’s seven-year-old, New York-based brand, Yayoi Forest Jewelry, is derived from her personal connection to nature.
“I was born near a small forest in Japan, and I like to put the feelings of my childhood in the forest into my jewelry; the smell of the rain, the warm touch of tree bark on your skin or sitting on a beautiful old tree stump.”
Working with platinum, sterling silver, 14-karat gold, and conflict-free black and white diamonds, the graduate of New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) combines timeless aesthetics with quirky minutiae that bring an unpretentious beauty to her feminine, handmade jewelry designs.
Alongside such classic items as star and gold heart pendants, wedding jewelry, and hand stamped, personalized jewelry, she incorporates differentiated concepts such as the see-through glass lockets made to hold tiny samples of personal memories; the alternate “melting” love rings, and heart earrings; and beautifully cast rings, pendants, and bracelets respectively made with silver East Indian tea spoons, and vintage sterling butter knives. The renderings are at once organic, minimalist and idiosyncratic.
“Creating is a lengthy and time-consuming process. It can sometimes become overwhelming but I try to take it one step at a time” says Inada.
“I think being a woman works well with being a jewelry designer. I like the scene when a woman bends down to pick something up and a pendant top slips out from her V-neck sweater. It just makes me want to know everything about the story behind the necklace.”
In this light, one of the designer’s jewelry pieces was selected by a Hollywood stylist for placement within the retelling of a 57-year-old story: the 2008 version of The Day the Earth Stood Still as worn by actor Jennifer Connelly’s character Helen Benson.
“One of the movie’s stylists bought one of my favorite pieces, the Owl in the Forest Necklace, for herself and then contacted me to get one for Jennifer Connelly to wear. I was jumping for joy because Jennifer Connelly wore the necklace from the beginning of the movie to the end just like the stylist told me.”
Like everything in Inada’s affordable jewelry collections the 14-karat gold Owl in the Forest Necklace, which features the engraved images of stars, and perched owl offset with a tiny, bead-set diamond, embodies delicacy, and elegance with a touch of whimsy.
“When I was in school (FIT), an invited guest speaker, who owned a store in New York, told us there needed to be a story or theme running throughout the collections.
I wanted to create a sense of a calm night in a forest with the Owl in the Forest Necklace. Sometimes creating a story within the jewelry is the hardest thing to do, but I think that it was the best advice I have received.”
Photo 1 (top right): 14-Karat Gold Three-Diamond Pendant Necklace
Photo 2 (center): Platinum-Sterling Silver Lacy Hoop Earrings
Photo 3 (bottom left): 14-Karat Gold Owl in the Forest Necklace