A Jewel in the Valley’s crown

Bonnie Radow can’t remember a time in her life when she wasn’t creating. That creative streak has taken her on a unique path from interior designer and sculptor to her current raison d’être: jewelry designer.

Her knack for creativity came in handy for clients of upscale homes when they couldn’t find just the right furnishings to finish off a room. Bonnie would simply design the elusive piece of furniture or the missing sculpture that would produce the desired “Aha!” moment. So why not jewelry?

“I always felt like I had to ‘fix’ any jewelry I bought,” says Bonnie. An idea emerged when her husband asked, “Why don’t you just make something yourself?” The rest is history.

Bonnie’s many years of travel around the world and the stories of the people she met or heard about along the way – not to mention a lifelong sense of style – became the foundation for her designs. A “romantic at heart,” she collects love letters, charms, gemstones, tiny dolls and books, enameled trinkets and special, personal sayings to come up with a distinctive jewelry style that has attracted a loyal following around the Valley and the country.

Bonnie, a native New Yorker, considers herself a contemporary designer; but a foray into Victorian style for a client turned out to be the catalyst for further creativity. “My first ‘Victorian job’ happened to be in Phoenix,” says Bonnie. She wasn’t as familiar with antiques from that era, “but I learned very quickly. It was a wonderful learning experience.”

Her eclectic fine jewelry – rings, pendants, necklaces, bracelets – comes in three collections: Heirloom, Contemporary and Passion.

• The design of her Heirloom Collection pieces is based on fascinating stories around rare artifacts, including items like a tiny compass or hard-to-find miniature faces of laughing Buddhas, which represent the legend of an ancient, wandering Chinese monk who replaced people’s sadness with laughter, wisdom and abundance.

• The Contemporary Collection speaks to Bonnie’s flair for modern design, incorporating geometric shapes, stamped words and fashionable stones, along with chains of different-sized links.

• The Passion Collection, her newest, is a nod to romance and, well, passion! The pieces include diamonds and gemstones that add a touch of evening elegance to any neck, wrist or finger.

Regardless of the collection, each one-of-a-kind piece is an heirloom unto itself, destined to be handed down through generations. Bonnie carefully sources her gemstones (from Brazil, Africa and India), diamonds, gold and sterling silver. She says her jewelry is designed to “mix and match. It’s all made to be worn together,” including pieces from one’s own jewelry box.

Besides her loyal – and growing – following here in the Valley, Bonnie has shared her creations outside of Arizona with trunk shows in Aspen and New York City. Her spring trunk show is typically in March or April and her holiday trunk show is in early November. She also does private showings for small groups.

“Every time I do a show, I think, ‘How can I come up with other designs?’ And each time – it just happens!” says Bonnie. “The best part is sharing [my jewelry] with other people. I personalize it. They love it. It’s fun.” But she can’t tell you which design is her favorite: “I love them all!”

Bonnie’s creativity journey has taken her from making her own Barbie clothes as a child (“Without a sewing machine”) and cutting the dolls’ hair (“I ruined most of my dolls, but they had really nice clothes”) to designing the interiors of many beautiful homes. After more than seven years as a jewelry designer, she has found her creative calling with Bonnie Radow Designs.

She shares what makes her designs so special: “The biggest compliment for me is when a client tells her husband, ‘Go to Bonnie. She knows what I love.’”

Contact Bonnie at bonnieradow@cox.net or visit bonnieradowdesigns.com.

Mary Ann Bashaw, of Phoenix, is an editor and writer.

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