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Style Magazine

Naturally Brilliant

Oct 07, 2010 10:06AM ● By Style

Photo by Dante Fontana

"My mom and I have very different design backgrounds,” says Christina Riley, one half of the mother-daughter team behind Riley Designs, a custom jewelry business they started in El Dorado Hills.

Lori Riley enjoyed being creative for most of her life. She designed and marketed a line of kaleidoscopes in the 80s and 90s, honing her use of color, texture and design. Then about 13 years ago, she learned the art of lampworking while employed with a glass bead supply company. “The combination of kaleidoscopes and lampworking brought to life a love for jewelry,” shares Christina, “and due to her immense creativity, she self-taught herself wire wrapping and wirework.”

Christina’s path to jewelry design was much different from her mother’s. After moving to Los Angeles to pursue a modeling and acting career, she switched gears and got behind the camera, working in post-production for a visual effects company. During a hiatus, she took a job with a jewelry designer as an apprentice and assistant. “I realized immediately that I loved working with my hands and being creative,” she says. “I learned about the many materials on the market – wire wrapping, creative wirework and silk knotting.”

Christina’s designs caught the eye of friends and strangers, many attempting to buy some of her designs right off her neck or requesting she make them as gifts. “I realized I might be able to turn my love for making and designing jewelry into a business,” she says. “I discussed my idea with my mom, who was more than supportive, and we decided it would be something great we could do together.”

The duo got to work, creating classic pieces with semi-precious stones and gems, lamp-worked glass beads, 14K gold-fill, and sterling silver. In homage to Lori’s design past, they’ve even created a kaleidoscope line using stained glass, gold-plated brass tubes, and fused glass wheels. “We find inspiration everywhere,” says Lori. “We are constantly paying attention to current and upcoming fashion trends, but we also find ideas by simply looking at our surroundings, like scenery, paintings, seasons, colors, etc. Sometimes it’s as simple as finding an amazing strand of stones and trying to figure out how they can be used.”

This fall, the artists introduce a line with a mix of modern and vintage styles, incorporating ethnic elements and a color palette that includes earth tones and for pop, shades of purple and blue. The mother-daughter team is also excited to debut a small collection of cocktail rings with everything from chunky fluorite stones to pearls. When they’re not preparing their seasonal offerings, Lori and Christina are busy creating custom jewelry, such as special bridal pieces. “Especially in this economy, we find women who are looking for pieces they can wear forever,” says Lori. “Jewelry is an investment, so while our clients want something that is fashion-forward, they don’t want something that will go out of style within months.” Currently you can find Riley Designs Jewelry at Runway Boutique in El Dorado Hills.

For more information on these artists’ works, visit