We're thrilled to be hosting Chicago based jewelry designer Jen Hansen for a trunk show this weekend.  We love the contrast between her oxidized sterling silver chains that can be mixed and matched with delicate diamond and gemstone encrusted pendants, all of which makes her pieces easy to wear and super unique.

We thought the best way to get to know Jen and her collection would be to ask her a few questions about her process, inspiration and commitment to charity.

1. How did you get your start in jewelry design?
When I was a child, my grandmother took me to gem and jewelry shows. She really spent time with me and encouraged me with designing. She was a potter who had her own ceramics business, so I really learned a lot from watching her as an artist and an entrepreneur. Her nickname was Peppina, so when I launched my business I named it after her. She meant so much to me and did so much for me.

2. Who or what inspires you most?
Nature! My brand started with the PEPPINA ORIGINALS line, which for me was really about designing beautiful jewelry inspired by the unique, natural inner beauty of each woman, which is reflected in the one of a kind gemstones used in these pieces. I designed my first collections in my family's lakeside cabin in northern Minnesota. Now it's really about spending time near a body of water - lake, river, ocean. I've been spending more time on the West Coast recently and really enjoy my days at the beach. The colors in the jewelry all come straight from nature, so any time spent there gives me ideas!

3. When and how did you decide to integrate charity and giving back into your

True luxury is giving. We say it every day, but we don't take it for granted because it's so true. Giving freedom is at the core of our brand. When I started my business, I was contented making pieces for friends and family, but I knew I could do so much more for others, particularly on the issue of trafficking, which is so close to my heart, if I had a brand to use as a platform from which to speak out on this issue. From the beginning I was giving to organizations like International Justice Mission, and as the brand has grown, so has our ability to make an impact. Last year we celebrated the launch of our new website with a Freedom Package contribution to IJM, which sponsored a sex trafficking rescue operation inclusive of aftercare packages and trauma counseling for survivors. It just means so much to me, so deeply, that we can do this for others through the jewelry.

Jen Hansen Jewelry

4. What is your favorite metal to work with?
14kt! It's just so durable, and the quality really shines through. We have 14kt pieces in our FINE and DIAMOND lines. FINE is so light and delicate and DIAMOND is more modern and edge, more statement, so there's really something for everyone.

5. Favorite piece for spring/summer?
I LOVE our entire MIX & MATCH assortment from the DIAMOND line, and it has been so popular, and so well received by our long time clients. Everything is so easy to wear. The long necklaces are great to layer and the ability to switch out the pendants keeps your look fresh for summer. I love mixing metals, having the 14kt gold with the oxidized sterling and the gemstones for a pop of color, but if you prefer a monochromatic look we can do that too - so chic. The jewelry really makes the outfit.

6. Favorite way to style your jewelry?
Layer, mix and match! I love having four lines, from fine jewelry to fashion jewelry. There's something for every taste and budget. Everything is designed with layering in mind. Here are a few examples:  Rings - FINE rings can be stacked together, with multiple rings on each finger. Necklaces - in DIAMOND, we have chokers for the top necklace layer, beautiful pieces where the pendant lays on the chest, and then long necklaces, as well as our pendants and chains from MIX & MATCH, so you can really create a unique look for each outfit.

Thank you Jen!