August 15, 2016

Get Ready to go Back to School with School Spirit Jewelry!

Summer is wrapping up and it is time to go Back to School! But just because Summer is almost over doesn’t mean the fun needs to stop. With a new school year comes a new wardrobe and school supplies! And of course, a new wardrobe must include some fabulous new Jewelry Accessories!

Back to School Blog

We’ve put together a Back to School Collection of charms, pendants and tassels for you to create with! Get into the School Spirit by sporting your school mascot, school colors, favorite club or team. Use our Jewelry Tassels as Pom Poms and shop our wide selection of Animal Charms to find your school’s mascot! Or use Stamping Blanks to stamp your school name or slogan – “Go Banana Slugs!”

Putting together a personalized necklace, charm bracelet or pair of earrings is as easy as “1, 2, 3, A, B, C!” Watch this short how-to-video on how to create quick and easy charm necklaces. Make one for yourself, your best friends and your favorite teachers. (Hint: You’ll want to get on their good side!) Mix and match pieces from our Back to School Collection to create one of a kind designs you can wear all year round! Browse our Back to School Design Ideas for some inspiration.

Done with school? That doesn’t mean you have to stop learning! Go ahead and challenge yourself this year by learning new skills. We have How-to Videos for any skill level. And our Classroom is an amazing resource for step-by-step instructions for jewelry projects. We also have you covered when it comes to finished jewelry designs. Browse our Design Ideas and find a project to make your own!

August 8, 2016

What’s that sound? Exploring the Complex Meaning of Ohm

I have chanted Ohm as part of yoga and meditation classes and was familiar with the sound Ohm.  Working at Nina Designs, I see the Ohm symbol regularly as it is offered in many different styles and finishes.  We carry a variety of Ohm charms, pendants, earrings, rings and even one with a diamond.  After admiring so many Ohm pieces, I started to wonder what does the Ohm sound mean and is there any significance to the Ohm symbol.

Ohm is an ancient Sanskrit word that is considered by many Eastern religions as the Primal Sound.  In these religions, it is believed that God created sound first and therefore Ohm is the seed sound of all creation. It is further believed that the Universe, the Gods, and all matter come from the sound Ohm. Therefore, Ohm encompasses everything: the beginning, the middle and the end of all.  It is the past, the present and the future.

Ohm Blog 1

Ohm is considered the most sacred and famous mantra.  Ohm is usually chanted at the beginning and end of most Sanskrit recitations, mantras, prayers, and texts.  In our times, this sacred incantation is also made during meditation and spiritual activities such as yoga. Ohm is believed to have the same frequency as the Universe.  Chanting Ohm can have a physical effect on the body, as it slows the over stimulated nervous system and calms the mind.

Ohm is one of the most important symbols in Hinduism.  Ohm is found as part of the iconography in ancient and medieval era manuscripts, temples, monasteries and spiritual retreats not only in Hinduism, but in Buddhism and Jainism as well.

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The symbol of Ohm consists of 5 parts: 3 curves, 1 semicircle, and 1 dot.

The Unconscious State:  The upper curve represents the state of deep sleep or the unconscious. In this state, the subconscious is shut down and the sleeper does not dream.

The Waking State:  The lower large curve represents the waking state of consciousness, it connects us to our own sense of something greater and is the state of consciousness most humans are in. In this state the consciousness is turned outward and we encounter the world through our five senses.

The Dream State: The Middle curve which lies between the first two curves, represents the dream state. In this state, consciousness is between deep sleep and waking and it is turned within.

Pure Consciousness: The dot or Bindhi signifies the fourth state of consciousness, which is the state of pure consciousness. This is also referred to as “The Absolute State” or “Turiya.” It is a peaceful, quiet state where the consciousness is focused neither inward nor outward.

Illusion/Maya State: The Semicircle that separates the dot from the 3 other curves, represents “Maya” or the Illusions that prevent us from realizing or reaching the highest state of consciousness.

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The Ohm pieces at Nina Designs can be a great support for those on a spiritual path, moving from the unconsciousness to pure consciousness, reminding us to breathe deeply.  I am so excited to start making Ohm jewelry now that I have a better understanding of what Ohm means and symbolizes!  I will definitely start with styles A646, A910, A1190 and see where the inspiration carries me of to.

How about you? Are there any symbols that hold deep, spiritual or personal meaning to you that you like to incorporate into your designs? We’d love to hear about them! Please share your inspirations in the comments section below.

August 1, 2016

Meet our Staff – Say Hello to Marcy!

Who are those fabulous ladies at Nina Designs? What sparks their creativity?

Each month we would like to introduce a different member of our staff to you and let them share their artistic passion and inspiration…in their own words…

Staff Picks Marcy Blog 1

Marcy, Associate Designer

I like to make Talisman Jewelry. I started making jewelry when I was about 10. It was a journey my mom and I started together and we still love to share inspiration and treasures.

I love that jewelry changes how someone feels on the inside and how they are perceived on the outside.

I like to think that someone who wears my jewelry does so because they have a connection with it. I believe that connection has the power to unleash magical qualities in that person. If nothing else, the power to see and appreciate more beauty around them.

Along with jewelry, I do a little bit of painting, collaging, bookmaking and photography. Those were part of my interdisciplinary major in art school. Jewelry has taken over my free time for the most part, but I still like to go back to those crafts and perhaps in the future, one of them will take center stage again.

I think it is important to learn something new when creating. I’m always exploring new techniques, color combinations or different shape combinations. It’s good to keep in mind that an idea doesn’t always work and just because it doesn’t work, it’s still an important part of the process, not lost time. Once you feel free to explore, the inspiration is endless.

I love so many of our pieces that it’s hard to choose my favorites! I love the detail and textures in our cast pieces. I like pairing nature pieces with magical elements and tribal designs. The geometric pieces are fun to use because they are like puzzle pieces. You can arrange them in so many different ways to create interesting relationships between hard lines and curved lines. The relationship between circles and triangles is very interesting and pleasing to my eyes.

I’m currently in love with the following styles: S6011, A1655, A1613, S2989, S2990, S3039S2993, A1553, A1024, P22, A1251, and A1276. And I always come back to our circle links. I love using them to frame charms and gems!  All sizes and finishes!

Staff Picks Marcy Blog 2

July 25, 2016

Summertime Adventures…and Jewelry that Celebrates them!

Filed under: Inspiration — Tags: , , , @ 11:28 am

It’s time to make memories that will last a lifetime and make jewelry that celebrates your adventures.

It’s the middle of Summer – the perfect time to pack up the car and head for the hills. We all need to “unplug” from our phones, computers, tablets and daily grind from time to time and nature is the perfect escape! Many of us have fond childhood memories of going away to summer camp: making new friends and fun crafts, canoeing, swimming and nature hikes, writing letters telling of our adventures… which usually arrived after we got home!

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And who can forget the excitement of sitting around the open campfire at night- singing songs with a guitar, roasting marshmallows, and telling ghost stories….and the challenges of making breakfast in the freezing cold mornings before the fire is lit! And let’s not forget the annoying buzz of the mosquito or the awe of seeing a wild creature up close!

There are so many Beautiful State and National Parks for us to get out and explore. Natural wonders like crystal caves, mountain ranges, waterfalls, tall redwood forests and coastal beaches. Whether for a simple day trip or an extended back pack trek, with family or friends, the adventures you share and the memories you create will always be something you hold dear.

Charm Collage ready for web

And for those who can’t find time to escape for long – sometimes, the most amazing sites and inspiring natural beauty is just a stone’s throw away. A simple walk in your neighborhood or stroll outside your office can refresh and inspire.

And after you get back, with your batteries recharged and creative juices flowing, what better time to create a keepsake piece of jewelry to commemorate your explorations!  We have a beautiful selection of nature inspired charms and pendants featuring wild animals, nature scenes, idyllic beaches and more. Perfect for camp projects, gifts for fellow outdoor enthusiasts or something special just for you.

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So get out there and go camping, canoeing, hiking, and biking… Nina Designs will be here when you get back, ready to help you create the perfect Souvenir of your Adventure.

What are your summer plans? We’d love to here all about them! Please share your adventures in the comment section below.

July 18, 2016

Discover the Symbolism of Spirit Animals!

Have you ever felt drawn to a certain animal? Felt a special kinship or deep connection to a wild beast, tiny insect, or cold blooded reptile? Do certain creatures seem to constantly cross your path? Maybe it’s your Spirit Animal calling out to you! A Spirit Animal or Power Animal represents the “life force” or soul of an animal, which appears to humans – through their dreams, meditations and in their waking life – in order to share their wisdom. The belief in Spirit Animals has its origins mainly in Native American Tribes, although similar spiritual practices can be found in other cultures. There are differences within each tribe or culture on how they interpret and incorporate Spirit or “Totem Animals” into their lives. In Native American cultures, The Totem Animal would generally appear as one single animal that acts as a guide and protector for humans throughout their entire life. Modern cultures often believe that you can have many Spirit Animals and they can change daily.

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Nina Designs has created an inspiring line of Spirit Animal Pendants perfect for creating Talisman Jewelry that holds spiritual meaning for the wearer. We chose to feature seven of our favorite creatures: The Bear, The Cobra, The Crocodile, The Hawk or Falcon, The Elephant, The Tiger, and The Wolf. Each has special attributes that we hope will stir your creativity and connect with you personally.

Cobra Blog

The Cobra: Waiting, Pausing, Going inwards to decide.

With its ability to shed its skin, the cobra represents transformation, rebirth and new beginnings. Having this power animal in your life portents a great transition is on its way through new opportunities and growth.

Bear Blog

The Bear: Waking Up, Beginning Anew.

Symbolically, the bear holds many contradictions. Their dual nature symbolizes both the warrior and the nurturer. It can be fierce, teaching us to stand against adversity, take action and be bold. At times of hibernation it is tranquil, emphasizing a time for solitude, self-reflection, and rest.

Crocodile Blog

The Crocodile: Resting, Collecting Energy, Cooling Off.

The crocodile has inhabited the earth for millions of years and are considered to be the keepers and protectors of all knowledge and ancient wisdom. Having this power animal in your life signifies an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the world around you. Gliding along the water, they are concealed from view with just their eyes peeking above the surface, teaching us about patience, emotional depth and resourcefulness.

Elephant Blog

The Elephant: Unstoppable, Auspicious & Wise.

Revered for its power and strength, the elephant symbolizes dignity, peace, intelligence, and longevity. In the herd, the older elephants protect and care for the young, regardless of whether it is their offspring or another’s. In this way, the spirit of the elephant encourages loyalty and fidelity in our relationships with family and friends.

Hawk Blog

The Hawk or Falcon: Watchful, All-Seeing & Fate’s Messenger

 Symbolically, the falcon is the messenger of the spirit world and the “unseen”. They were believed to have resided in the Upperworld with the spirits of the Sun, the Moon, and the Stars. The Falcon’s ability to soar to great heights assists with gaining a new perceptive, allowing one to see and understand things clearly by providing focus and sharp vision.

Wolf Blog

The Wolf: Protector of Family & Tribe

Symbolically, the wolf encourages a deeper connection with and trust in one’s intuition. With a razor sharp intelligence and a strong desire for freedom, the wolf inspires you to live life to the fullest and pursue your dreams.

Tiger Blog

The Tiger: Sensuality, Receptivity & Lunar Forces

The tiger symbolizes courage and willpower. Having this animal in your life encourages you to harness your inner strength and trust your intuition to help you overcome challenges. The speed and agility of the tiger reminds us to tackle life’s problems quickly and passionately. Don’t hesitate… pounce! Let this tiger unleash a new power or passion within you.

Wild Unknown Blog Image 

* Nina Designs wishes to thank artist, Kim Krans

for allowing us to feature her lovely Animal Spirit Cards in our Jewelry Photos.

*You can find them along with other pieces of her amazing art at “The Wild Unknown”*

 

 

 

July 8, 2016

Building Community, Bead and Button Shines a Spotlight on Nina Designs

Nina Designs is honored to be featured in one of our favorite jewelry making publications, Bead and Button Magazine. The profile, “Building Community, Nina Cooper strives to make the world a better place, one finding at a time,” is beautifully written by Julia Gerlach and can be found in the “Spotlight” section of August 2016 Issue of Bead and Buttonwhich is available on newsstands now! It focuses on Nina’s efforts to create a supportive work environment, lessen our carbon footprint as a business, and help women entrepreneurs and artisans through microloans.

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It is a fascinating read that we wanted to make sure you didn’t miss because this isn’t just a shout out for Nina Designs, it’s also about you. When you purchase from Nina Designs, you aren’t just getting the best quality jewelry components and top notch customer service – you are also helping us to make the world a better place! Honestly, we couldn’t do it without you!

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So, if you haven’t read Bead and Button Magazine, we encourage you to check it out! It is published 6 times a year and features amazing “How To” projects as well as wonderful articles that remind us that maybe we can “make the world a better place, one finding at a time.”

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June 27, 2016

Let’s Get Physical …with Fun Fitness Jewelry!

Filed under: Inspiration — Tags: , , , @ 10:00 am

Are you a Couch Potato or a Fitness Fanatic? If you’re like most of us, you’re a little bit of both, depending on the time of year or the mood you’re in. They say that doing as little as 30 minutes a day of exercise will create huge positive changes in your health and life expectancy. And it doesn’t have to be anything too strenuous…just a simple walk around the block will do wonders.  At Nina Designs, we have a free weekly yoga class, open to all of the staff. We know that this form of exercise reduces stress, builds muscle and creates flexibility. And in our personal lives, we all like to find different ways to get out and enjoy nature. Here are just a few of our favorite ways to blow off steam, build strength and burn a few calories….

 Fitness Blog Header Photo

Kirsten

Marketing & Inventory Associate

I love to swim! It’s doesn’t matter if it’s in a pool, ocean, river or lake. Since I can’t go to the beach every day, I have gotten into a habit of lap swimming a few evenings a week. I am lucky to have an outdoor saline pool just a few minutes’ drive from my house. If I need to go somewhere to do my workout it needs to be super close and convenient to get to, otherwise I won’t go. When I swim it doesn’t really feel like exercise, it’s just fun! I also love the added bonus of getting a little bit of a tan while swimming. For me, swimming is super relaxing, refreshing and easy on the joints. I also really enjoy going to cycling classes. I have found the perfect class with a funny teacher and familiar faces every week. It’s a little bit harder to get motivated for this class because it is hard work! After the class I almost always feel great. My endorphin’s are going and I get a nice burst of energy for a few hours!

Fitness Blog KG

Marcy

Associate Designer

I love riding my bicycle to work! I am very grateful to have a short commute and riding my bike lets me roll past the traffic congestion on the city streets while getting the added benefit of fresh air and exercise! I enjoy walking and hiking as well but riding a bike allows me to travel further distances and reduces the impact on my body. I especially love that I am also helping the environment by using my bike to commute. There is a grocery store near work which further allows me to lesson my “carbon footprint.”  I’ve gotten into the habit of stopping there every couple of days. I prefer this method over making one huge trip to the grocery store with my car. It has the extra benefit of assuring that I always have the freshest fruit, vegetables and meat. The Bay Area has many great bicycle trails. I especially enjoy the Bay Trial because it is flat, making it easy to ride, and it has a gorgeous view! For a more rigorous, challenging ride, I go to Tilden Park. It is fantastic because you quickly feel like you are deep in nature, away from the city.

Fitness Blog Marcy Image

Signe

Marketing Manager

I live in the Oakland Hills and my favorite form of exercise is walking. It is something I can easily do to help maintain my health and my two dogs love it too! I like that I can adjust the level of difficulty by either choosing hilly or flat areas in my neighborhood or by simply altering my speed. I’ve tried gym memberships and never used them in the past. Walking is something that only requires good shoes and a little spare time. I don’t have to care about how I look or if someone needs the machine or whether or not a class fits into my schedule. It’s the most user friendly exercise I know of and the only one I am able to stick to! I also find it very meditative. I love to observe the plants and seasonal changes in my neighborhood or enjoy a deeper conversation with a fellow walker when one cares to join me. Some of my favorite trails to walk are at Redwood Park and the “off leash dog area” near Skyline Boulevard. Point Isabelle is a must for dog lovers! The view of the Bay is incredible, the walking trails are well-groomed and maintained, and the pups love to get their wiggle on!

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So how about you?

What gets you off the couch and puts a spring in your step?

We would love to hear what motivates you to go for the gold!

Please leave your comments below!

June 20, 2016

Diving for Jewelry Inspiration

Nina Dive

Like many artists, I draw much of my inspiration for our Silver Charms from nature. Trees, mountains, flowers and animals feature prominently in our collection at Nina Designs. Beyond land, the earth is 71% water and our Ocean Charms are inspired by the creatures of the sea. Scuba diving offers a window into a rich and diverse underwater world that remains largely a mystery to us even in this high tech age. I learned to dive in Bali in 1994 over Nyepi, a holiday during which evil spirits visit earth and it is against the law for anyone to go outside in public or make noise. From my first ocean dive to the present, I have been captivated by the stunning diversity of life beneath the waves. Time collapses into an urgent NOW as you marshal all your senses to stay safe, while at the same time loosing yourself in wonder at the marvels on display in the watery blue light.

Dive Collage

Diving challenges me on many levels: I am susceptible to seasickness, I often feel claustrophobic bobbing on the surface of the water, my right ear has trouble clearing and the vast dark sea stretching out in all directions can evoke a strange primal terror. Fortunately, these details pale next to the intense gratification and endless inspiration I harvest from the colorful gardens of coral, fish and inexplicable creatures that inhabit the sea. It is so liberating to escape gravity and tumble in three dimensions while watching light scatter through the water in rays or dancing ripples. I like to play in the air bubbles of my fellow divers and imagine that I am swimming in a glass of champagne.

Recently, I had the privilege of visiting Utila, a small island off the coast of Roatan in Honduras. I went in search of Whale Sharks, the largest fish in the sea. They are filter eaters who rise to the surface around the full moon. We were lucky enough to spot one on our first day, then went on to swim with dolphins, eels, nurse sharks, turtles and curtains of colorful fish. Even now, back at my office computer, I am filled with wonder and half expecting a school of fish to swim by.

All underwater photos by Nina Cooper

June 13, 2016

Meet Our Staff – Say Hello to Nicky!

Who are those fabulous ladies at Nina Designs? What sparks their creativity?

Each month we would like to introduce a different member of our staff to you and let them share their artistic passion and inspiration…in their own words…

Nicky Blog 1

Nicky, IT Manager and Inventory & Executive Assistant

Right now my jewelry is inspired by a combination of geometric shapes and textures. I started making jewelry in college. It wasn’t really anything glamorous. As a college student my funds were limited to making friendship bracelets. I really started to design, build and wear high end jewelry when I started working here, at Nina Designs. Now it’s become a passion of mine!

If I had to choose only one type of earrings to wear it would be hoops. I’m a hoops girl. The bigger the better!

I like to dabble when it comes to other crafts and hobbies. I like to knit, crochet and invent delicious new recipes. Currently I am working on designing cute planters for my growing succulent collection.

Some of my favorite Nina Designs pieces are T3067, S3039, S3028, S2964, T2610, S2996, S2994, VNS2737, S2932, and GS2925.

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June 6, 2016

Feathers Appear When Angels are Near – Symbolism of Feathers

Our Feather and Wing Collection is one of my favorite sections to shop. It reminds me of when I was a child and I would find white feathers everywhere. My grandmother would always say it meant my Guardian Angel was near.  I decided that this was my way of communicating with the Angels.  I would talk to them as most children talk to their imaginary friends, then if I found a feather I would take it as a confirmation that the Angels had heard me.  Now as an adult when I find any kind of feather I take it as a sign that I’m being protected.

Feather Blog

Throughout many cultures, feathers are symbols of the spiritual realms representing ascension and spiritual evolution to a higher plane. Many religions agree that a white feather is a symbol that Angels are present and are hearing your prayers.  In Native American cultures, every group has different meanings for feathers depending on which bird they come from and their color. But it is safe to say that they represent honor and our connection with the Creator.

In Egyptian mythology the feather of Ma’at, an ostrich feather, was associated with Ma’at the goddess of truth and justice.  The chief priest in charge of court hearings would wear the feather of Ma’at and then gave the feather to the person who won the case.

In Christianity, feathers are associated with the presence of Angels and represent prayer and faith. The symbol of three feathers was popular in ancient Christianity, especially among the Medici, who used them as an emblem representing the three virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity.

There are so many different interpretations of the symbolic meaning of feathers. Some people believe they represent Truth, Speed, Lightness and Protection. And it is believed, that if you dream about feathers that it symbolizes travel or the ability to move freely in life and if you dream about a white feather, it indicates innocence or a fresh start in a spiritual sense.

Magdalena Feather Blog

For me wearing a feather gives me a sense of peace and connection to the spiritual realms. I love the Nina Designs Mother of Pearl Feather pendant because it reminds me of my Angel friends. I have made a ton of earrings featuring almost all of our Wing and Feather Charms. I think I have made a pair in every size we have!

What do feathers mean to you? Do you have any stories to share about how a feather has affected you personally or influenced your art? Please share it in the comments below!

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