Hanging with Oakland Designer Marisa Haskell

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With fans that range from local style mavens to supermodels (ahem, Linda Evangelista), Santa Barbara-raised designer Marisa Haskell of Marisa Mason Jewelry is as fashion-forward as she is down-to-earth. From her studio in Temescal Alley, she turns out bronze and brass pieces with leather, bead, and crystal ornamentations made entirely by hand.


Use everything, waste nothing is the philosophy of the Oakland designer, who started out making bags from deerskin scraps and beach glass before eventually incorporating more materials. There are echoes of a bohemian-chic aesthetic, no doubt stemming from the California girl's love of surfing and a childhood spent rummaging through the finds of her antique dealer-father. But Haskell's work has also developed a modern, luxurious quality over the years.

Wearing an armful of her bracelets and rings on every finger (each with dreamy names like Orion, Cuzco, Dune), Haskell speaks with 7x7 about timeless accessorizing and local gems.

My staple accessory is… a giant necklace or two.

I am inspired by… nature, ancient art and symbols, the inspired people around me. However, there is rarely a ping of inspiration. Designing something unique typically comes from locking myself in the studio and putting a lot of time in.

My dream client is… anyone who feels like my jewelry feels natural on them.

A recent San Francisco find was… that last dock out by Fort Point before you go under the Golden Gate. Best view of the Bay. Go there at night, wear a warm jacket, and watch out for skunks.

My last amazing meal was… Pizzaiolo. As a long-time Oakland person, I have to stick with my East Bay favorite.

For the first jewelry collection I ever made… a friend pushed me to make some pieces that were really big and over the top to help create a direction for the line—even if I thought they would never sell. That was the best advice anyone has given me, and I still wear those pieces.

Favorite weekend getaway… West Marin. Oyster farm. Surfing.

An indulgence I would never give up is… beer.

On my studio playlist today… Zambian rock, Range of Light Wilderness, and podcasts.

The key to layering accessories… I always tell people that chances are, if you have multiple pieces you really love, they will probably go well together. If they don't, wear them anyway. You don't have to spend a lot of money. Just be patient and find those special things over time.

When accessorizing, never… buy cheap copycat pieces from overseas to look on trend. Accessories can be the core elements of your aesthetic. You can wear no matter what season it is, and no matter how much clothing styles change.

The best way to take care of your jewelry is to… wear it a lot. Jewelry tarnishes and looks sad the more it sits. Wearing it brightens it back up. If you really need to polish something, get some brass polish. Or, toothpaste will usually do the trick.

If I could only choose one material to work with… it would be gold. As a material that has been in use since long before recorded history, I think I could count on its lasting appeal. I am starting a fine jewelry line because I love the idea of making jewelry that people will wear until the end, and then pass along.

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