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.

Spirit Animal NL 1

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.

Building Comm Blog 1

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!

Building Comm Blog 2 NEW FONT

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.”

build comm jpeg 300dpi reduced to 750

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


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


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


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!

Fitness Blog SVS


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.

 Nicky Blog 2


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!

May 30, 2016

Must See Video: Watch Our Balinese Artists in Action!

Nina Designs offers a wide selection of charms and pendants which are manufactured in Thailand, Bali, & Vietnam. We are lucky to have some of the best Balinese Artisans hand crafting our beautiful clasps & beads individually. Each of our Bali beads is handmade in the ancient tradition of Indonesian Silversmithing that requires enormous skill and patience. Every little silver ball, every tiny filigree wire is made and applied by hand.

Bali Blog

Watch master silversmiths in Bali create intricate silver designs from scratch. You won’t believe the precision and detail of their craftsmanship. Don’t miss this amazing video below!

May 23, 2016

Say, “I Do,” to Beautiful Wedding Jewelry!

You’ve said, “Yes to the Dress,” but have you said, “I Do,” to the Wedding Jewelry? There are so many decisions to be made when planning for the Big Day that it can feel, at times, overwhelming but designing beautiful jewelry for the Bride and her Wedding Party should be not only stress free but fun! Let Nina Designs help you create heirloom quality keepsakes for all of the women sharing this special day with You and your Betrothed.  We have a lovely selection of romantic Pendants and Charms, Earring Tops, Clasps and other Jewelry Findings to help you craft accessories to match your Gown as well as the gorgeous outfits of your Bridesmaids, Mother of the Bride and Groom and let’s not forgot the Flower Girl! We even have Ready to Wear Jewelry for those last minute gifts!

Bridal Blog 1

It’s easy to add a touch of color to coordinate with your wedding theme by adding freshwater pearls, gemstones, silk cord or tassels. And you can personalize each piece by adding initial charms or create a special message by using one of our stamping blanks to add dates, names or your favorite quote. So whether you “Tie the Knot” at your family’s church, on the beach at sunset, deep in the woods or in Vegas with an Elvis Impersonator,  we truly have everything you need to design the perfect look for your Wedding Day! And to help you get started, we have a beautiful gallery of Bridal Jewelry Design Ideas for inspiration. So go ahead and marked this one off your “To Do” list. When it comes to gettin’ hitched in style, we’ve got you covered!

Bridal Blog 2

May 16, 2016

Meet Our Staff – Say Hello to Rebecca!

Filed under: Inspiration,Jewelry Design Ideas — Tags: , @ 10:00 am

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 Rebecca Blog 1

Rebecca, Customer Service Representative

I love playing with shapes. I’m always trying to find a balance in my designs. So if I’m using say S2990, the triangle inside the circle, I will probably also try to use S2989, the circle inside the triangle, to give it a sense of balance. I’ve always enjoyed fitting shapes into patterns, whether I’m drawing, sculpting, or making jewelry. There’s always a point that I’m searching for, that says this piece is done. It has a beginning, middle, and end.

I’ve dabbled in jewelry designs for years, but it was only once I started working at Nina Designs that I began taking it seriously. It’s impossible to be surrounded by all of these great pieces and to not play with them. I usually come up with ideas when I’m pulling a customer’s order. I’ll really like a piece and I’ll be thinking about it. Maybe later in the day I’ll see another one, and I’ll just know that they belong together somehow. I’m not always right the first time, but once the idea is there, something is going to happen.

I really love sculpture. I do draw, but mostly I concentrate on making actual objects. I have worked with ceramics and other forms of mixed media sculpture, but I mostly focus on wire sculpture. I do a lot of work focusing on the female form, but also enjoy making fantastical creatures and organic forms. I’ve made a few lamps and vessels as well. I spent years making and selling wire wind chimes and plant stakes at festivals too. Over the years I’ve done quite a few commission pieces as well, although this is not my favorite. I prefer being left to my own devices. There is much less creative license when you’re making something specific for someone.

Some of my favorite Nina’s pieces are S2990, S2989, S2805, S3064, S3014, A1383, S2406, S3083, S3066, S3068.

Staff Picks Rebecca Blog 2

May 5, 2016

We Love Pets!

Filed under: Inspiration — Tags: , , , @ 10:30 am


In celebration of National Pet Month, Nina Designs is donating 10% of our sales from our Pet Love Charm Collection during the month of May! Our donation will be going to the Humane Society of the United States which is considered one of the nation’s largest and most effective animal protection organizations.

Shop our Pet Charm Collection to create your own personalized jewelry! For more ideas, check out our adorable Pet inspired Jewelry Designs. We think you’ll love ‘em!

pet love with border


Here at Nina Designs we love our four legged friends! They bring us so much joy, comfort us in hard times, and make us laugh! Lots of our staff members have either rescued animals themselves or adopted them from a shelter! Here are some of our staff members and their adorable furry pals!

Rebecca Pet New

Rebecca, Customer Service Rep

This is Hazel, being friendly and snugly is her game. She’s 13 years old, and I’ve had her since she was 2 months old. My best friend’s dad found her mom stuck on the median of the freeway. He rescued her. When he got her home he found out she was pregnant. I had her and her sister, Anabelle, for 12 years. Unfortunately Anabelle passed away last year. She loves to love and has absolutely the loudest purr I’ve ever heard. She makes friends with everyone she meets including deer, skunks, & dogs. Strangely she loves everyone except other cats. She adored her sister, but every other cat is a sworn enemy.

Since the day she came home to me everyone could tell she was special. She was the smartest and friendliest of her litter. She’s my baby!

Marcy Pet

Marcy, Associate Designer

This is Ban-Ki Moon (named after Secretary-General of the UN). Ban ki was a rescued feral kitten,  saved from being eaten by a Pitbull. He is 11 months old now. The silliest thing he does is stash his toys in our bed, in the couch cushions and in the water bowl. The most annoying thing he does is play with my jewelry when I’m trying to sleep and he stashes away just one earring! He is cute, friendly & playful. He always makes me smile, even when he’s being naughty! Ban Ki has recently discovered the joy of tissue paper. He loves to burrow under it and leap out of it.

Rose Pet

Rose, Customer Service Rep

My kitties names are Trouble (the orange male) & Moxie (the black female). I’ve had them for about four months! They are seven months old, and I adopted them from the Milo Foundation.

Trouble & Moxie both sleep on their backs with their limbs all over the place and it’s hilarious, especially since the longer they’re asleep the more tangled up they get. They are both very sweet (when they aren’t destroying things or running full-speed across the house). If you pick Moxie up she will lick your nose and make a little purr chirp noise. And Trouble plays fetch! I didn’t teach him how, and he’s already better at it than my childhood dog… who I tried to teach him to fetch for 12 years! They are both inside cats, but because they are so interested in the outdoors, my boyfriend and I put them on leashes and harnesses and take them in the backyard to explore. I’m trying to teach them to walk on their leashes, but at this point they’re mostly interested in eating grass and stalking bugs.

Signe Pet

Signe, Marketing Manager

This is Daisy! She is 14 years old and has been with us since she was a puppy. Daisy came from Animal Control. She was deemed un-adoptable because she is half Pitbull and showed signs of aggression. We rescued her from being put down and did extensive training with her for 2 years to make sure she would be a good canine citizen. I’m so glad we rescued her. She has been an amazing family member. My life is better with her in it.

Daisy’s silliest behavior is a trick that she does called “Surprise!” When one of us is sitting down, with one leg crossed over the other, she pops her head through the space created between the bend of the knee on the crossed leg and the leg below it. It always makes us laugh when she does it. Her most annoying behavior is that she will sometimes do it to guests when they visit – which is a little embarrassing….but usually it gets a laugh too, if the person likes dogs!


What kind of pet do you have?

Cat or Dog?

Fish or Fowl?

Pot Bellied Pig or Python?

Tell us a little about your pet! We love to hear cute and silly pet stories!

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