The Family Stone

Posted by Mary Jo Almeida-Shore On July - 1 - 2008

stones1It was during a two-hour layover in a Dallas airport five years ago that Citrine by the Stones was born. Peruvian born designers Mary, Michelle and Joanne Stone were returning to Miami after a wedding when the fateful discussion occurred. “I was living in Paris, traveling throughout Europe and had come to the States for a wedding,” recounts Michelle. “My mom, Mary, and sister, Joanne, had been designing and creating jewelry at home for themselves and for friends. During the layover in Dallas, my mother suggested we start our own jewelry line. I said, ‘As soon as you have a few designs in place, give me a call and I’ll move back and join the team and head up the branding and marketing.’” Surely enough, the call came two months later, when Michelle was in Italy. Within a couple of weeks, she moved down and the trio got to work creating original, handmade pieces in the kitchen of their Miami home. “We started from our home, so you can really say we are organically grown,” says Michelle. “It helped that we all came from art and design backgrounds,” Joanne explains, “I studied design at UCLA and at L’Accademia Di Belle Arti di Bologna, in Italy; Michelle majored in design at Parsons/New School NY and Paris and also possessed branding and strategy experience; and our mother is a trained sculptor, painter and photographer.” The Stones share an intense passion for jewelry and its power to transform a woman, making her beautiful, sexy, delicate, elegant, or rebellious. “For this reason our collections change radically yet organically every season in step with life’s ever-changing energy and flow. They are echoes of our culture: classic, yet fashion-forward. The By the Stones woman is not afraid to be herself. She stands out in a crowd for her confidence, daringness, playfulness, generosity and femininity, she is authentic and generous.”

When asked about the origin of the brand name, Michelle explains that the trio just liked the sound of the name Citrine, and the fact that it sounds beautiful in different languages. They later discovered that Citrine is the stone of prosperity, abundance, and wealth, which clears the mind and helps with relationships. It is also one of the only stones that never collects negative energy. Currently the bulk of the jewelry is handcrafted by an exceptional team of 25 silversmiths with over 35 years of experience and a talented team of women artisans, at their studios in Miami, and Peru- vivid and dynamic spaces reflecting the company’s approach and core values. “Our handmade pieces embody the essence of our beliefs and speak to our sole mission: to live life to the fullest, to take risks, to be playful, to love, to create beauty, and to always have fun.” The Stones’ pieces embody a unique, signature texture and hand hammering. Citrine’s studios are open spaces, without doors, so as to promote a sense of equality and ownership. This is evident in that one of Citrine’s most popular pieces, the Adonis earring, was designed by one of the silversmiths, Adonis (of course!).

According to Joanne, the inspiration for the jewelry collections comes from a variety of sources. She says, “We may see a crumpled piece of paper on the floor, an old picture of our great aunts from the 1940s dressed in their skirt suits and wearing hats, all jeweled up, or an incredible  chandelier lamp reflecting light and get inspired. We draw from history and ancient cultures; explore movement, art, design, mythologies, and particularly the materials we come across.” Michelle adds, “We are passionate gals! Jo and I feel intensely.  We get inspiration from our feelings, experiences, and on the top of the list: materials.” This inspiration has led the Stones to develop signature hand-etched textures and hand-hammered techniques exclusive to their pieces.

Citrine by the Stones first received media attention in 2003, when Mary J. Blige raved about the Rain earrings in Us Weekly. Michelle says, “We had never even heard of the magazine.” Soon afterward, Jennifer Lopez was pictured in the magazine wearing the Rain earrings. Since then, By the Stones pieces have adorned the famous necks, lobes and wrists of A-list celebs including Mandy Moore, Jessica Simpson, Beyonce, Cameron Diaz, Charlize Theron, Queen Latifah, Nicole Richie, Rihanna, Deborah Messing, Serena Williams, Giselle Bundchen and Oprah. “Oprah had been wearing our pieces and we didn’t even know it,” explains Michelle. “We sent her a catalog and a package and she bought everything!” For the past five years, Citrine’s pieces have graced the pages of style tomes, Vogue, In Style, Marie Claire, Lucky, and WWD, to name a few. In 2004, the Stones were awarded Gen Art’s Fresh Faces in Fashion award for top accessory designers.

Citrine by the Stones jewelry has also been featured on the big screen, thanks, in part, to local celebrity stylist and Italian Vogue editor, Danny Santiago, who introduced the Stones to Academy Award-nominated stylist and costume coordinator, Patricia Field. Field had already featured the Adonis earrings in the Devil Wears Prada, and, thanks to the meeting orchestrated by Santiago, several Citrine pieces are featured in the highly-anticipated, upcoming Sex and the City movie.

By the Stones supports local artisans in both, Lima, Peru and Miami through direct employment and fair trade with packaging producers in Bangladesh. Furthermore, By the Stones is currently donating to Bridges Across Borders Cambodia project, a non-profit organization, founded by their high school friend, David Pred. The organization focuses on clothing, feeding and providing shelter and education for Cambodian children. Last season alone, their peace bangles (inscribed “Peace for Cambodia”) enrolled two children in this program for one year. 10% of all website purchases go to Bridges Across Borders Other partnerships include Trees for the Future ( and Operation Green Leaves ( in Haiti. Michelle states, “Our jewelry is beautiful and meaningful aesthetically but we want it to have meaning globally by giving back. We are committed to our growing team and our company is run like a family, wherein everyone can grow personally and professionally.”

From the red carpet to the supermarket, By the Stones unique pieces glam up any outfit. Their collections include Wired, Factory Girl, Jardin, Classics and Sheba Summer ‘08. The Wired line is based on free flow- free form, stream of consciousness, expressive lines and textures. Seeking to convey raw femininity, we create departure from the glamour girl, a contrast to clean lines and perfect grooming. This line is empowering and dynamic. Factory Girl features a flight of fancy into colorful designs, striking geometric and graphic shapes. Factory girl is a statement that is urban rebel yet chic and delicate. Hand-crafted, leather inlay, 18K Gold-plated brass. The Jardin collection includes delicate, romantic and intrinsically feminine pieces that are hand-crafted, brass, gold plate, and Italian chandelier crystals. Citrine’s finest and most sought-after pieces comprise the Classics collection, which includes earrings, necklaces and bracelets that have never ceased to surprise their clientele. Sheba Summer 08, inspired by Queen Sheba: powerful, intelligent, and wealthy- represents ethnic, African, bohemian-elegance.  In the collection the Stones mixed feminine shapes with earthly natural cut turquoise, facetted citrines, white jade, and smoky topaz, hammered wires (where the hand of the artisans work can be seen) and sand blasted, matte finished gold metals. The jewelry ranges in price from $80-$400 dollars, with the most popular pieces being the Rain and Adonis earrings, large wire bangle and necklace, dream bangles, and turquoise multi-strand necklace. The collections are available at top department stores and high-end retailers throughout the United States, Europe and Asia, including Nordstrom, Calypso, Henri Bendel, Harvey Nichols, and Lane Crawford, to name a few.

For the upcoming seasons, the Stones are experimenting with new materials and mediums, with an emphasis on daringness, reflected in larger neck pieces and bold earrings and bracelets with personality and style.

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This article originally appeared in 944 magazine in July 2008.

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