Following a Path: Oak Trees to Pearls

I have always been intrigued by the beauty and natural luster of pearls. However, my first path was not in designing jewelry, but instead took me through the lens, to become a photographer. My father taught me to look for the beauty in nature by the lighting that was filtered upon it. The lighting exposes and captures hidden details and tells the story.

Later in life, I was lead down a dark path and was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. During the endless months of chemotherapy, I once again picked up my camera to find peace through the lens. One of my favorite photographs I took during this time was of an oak tree on the rolling and bucolic hills in Marin County in Northern California. My “Foggy Oak” was a magnificent, yet unique tree. It was perfectly bent in a 90 degree angle and then branched out up into the sky. I visited this old Oak often and found comfort under its boughs.

I became fascinated with this tree and researched what may have caused its unique shape. I found that this magical oak tree had a purpose. The Miwok Native American Indians intentionally bent the tree when it was young. This tree became an important marker or “Way-Finding” tree. The oak tree is considered a medicine tree associated with strength and protection. 

When I first started designing jewelry, I knew I wanted to create something using a natural gem- to me it made sense to work with freshwater pearls. Interesting enough, both oak trees and freshwater pearls have been important to the Native Americans. Native Americans were the first to collect and use freshwater mussel pearls and shells. Pearls were prized for their beauty and magical powers. The Latin word for pearl literally means “unique”, attesting that no two pearls are alike. Just like the oak trees. 

I believe my “Foggy Oak” has been my “Way-Finding “ tree. It is part of my life and thus became a natural symbol for my Elizabeth Wilmore Designs logo.

Jewelry designing has allowed me to express my life experiences. I draw inspiration from nature and it’s gifts. I find beauty in the subtle luster of each unique freshwater pearl or the sea glass colors of a gemstone. As in my photography, beauty comes from natural lighting, hues and textures. My handcrafted pearl jewelry reflects the colors and bucolic California landscape surrounding my Marin County studio. 

My designs are beautiful and meaningful. Wear them everyday and enjoy the journey in life!