It’s that time of year. The holidays are upon us and you are probably wondering what to get the jewelry lover in your life. Or maybe you are thinking of finding a very special gift for yourself as a treat, because 2020 has been a lot. Perhaps you are pondering both, something for yourself and someone else.
Well, let me guide you to the hottest arena in the jewelry world right now, a trend that couldn’t be clearer: jewels with signs and symbols filled with meaning are what everyone wants to have and hold. People want their own personal lucky charms and talismans. If the jewels have a charitable element even better.
Buddha Mama is a collection that checks all those boxes.
Evil eyes, hamsas and buddhas can be found throughout the jewelry designs that are largely inspired by the motifs of Buddhism and Eastern traditions.
Mandalas, a geometric symbol often used as a spiritual guidance tool during meditation cover a multitude of designs.
The delightful god Ganesha with an elephant head, believed to remove obstacles among other things, is depicted in several jewels.
There are also romantic hearts and stars and lyrical dream catchers.
The themes in the Buddha Mama collection are about good vibes, all the way down to the peace signs and playful jewels illustrating cannabis leaves.
While there may be an easy breezy bohemian vibe to the appearance of the designs, the manufacturing is serious business. All the jewels are made of 20K gold and sparkle with diamonds, precious and semi-precious gems. Enamel adds another layer of vibrant color. In other words, the talismanic motifs are treated as treasures.
Flip the jewels over and you will find intricate grillwork on the back. You could call this kind of detail master craftsmanship, but in the case of Buddha Mama I think of it as made with love. No one sees the decorations on the back except the owner when they put it on. It is a detail that makes that moment so much sweeter.
The Buddha Mama collection is enormous. The range extends from spectacular one-of-a-kind jewels to classic cocktail rings with mandalas depicted on the side, elaborate hand pieces and little huggies.
Now for the first time since the collection was launched around 10 years ago by Nancy Badia (aka Buddha Mama) and her daughter Dakota (who I think of as Buddha Baby), over 70 pieces can be shopped on the Buddha Mama website.
Find out more about the dynamic duo who are based in Miami and their joyful jewels in our interview below.
How did your journey in jewelry begin?
Nancy: I always liked accessorizing and collecting old jewelry and my husband gave me lots of great new jewels. When I was looking for a way to raise money for the Buddhist center I attended in Miami, I began making mandala bracelets and necklaces in my kitchen. After a few years, I started getting serious about the design, visited Thailand to research the manufacturing end and then turned it into a bona fide business. Dakota joined me and started contributing to the designs right away.
How did you come up with the name for the company?
Nancy: My middle daughter Bianca came up with it. She is witty and bright and quick. I told her I was thinking about turning the jewelry into a business and was trying to think of a name. She said instantly, “Name it Buddha Mama.” Because I am the mama and I have been Buddhist for many years.
Where do you come up with ideas for the jewelry?
Nancy: I love symbols and they make up a lot of what we do, but we get ideas from things that inspire us in art and culture and Eastern traditions.
Do you think about a color palette for gems and enamels? I feel a Miami vibe in the pastels.
Nancy: We do switch things up. There can be a tie dye vibe with the pinks and purples. We started with beiges and earthy tones. Then Dakota did an Egyptian themed collection in bright red and navy.
Dakota: For gems, we are drawn to fancy cuts—Tanzanites, green tourmalines, morganites—they play well with the enamels that we use.
I know the collection has gained a big following through word of mouth and the trunk shows you have done throughout the country. In other words, you are not seeking out celebrities, but celebrities have worn the collection, right?
Dakota: Oh yes there have been some celebrity moments, but none as big as a few years ago at the Met Gala, Madonna wore one of our cross necklaces. It was amazing. And Katy Perry wore some cross pendant earrings to the same event. The exhibit that year was Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic imagination so the jewels fit with the theme.
When you launched the Buddha Mama collection it was to raise money for the Buddhist center that needed funds. Have you continued the charitable component of the collection?
Nancy: Yes, Buddhism teaches that in order to reach enlightenment, a person must develop two qualities: wisdom and compassion. Today, Buddha Mama continues to donate proceeds from sales to Tibet House in New York and Kristi House in Miami among other charitable causes. We will always donate to those in need as opportunities present themselves.
*This post was produced in collaboration with our friends at Buddha Mama.
What It’s Like To Have A Jewel Made Over Zoom
The Power and Love of Designer Lorraine West
Beyoncé’s Jewelry In Black Is King