I came across Lè Reserve on Instagram weeks before I gave birth to my daughter and crushed hard on their morse code necklaces. I love the idea of a secret message, an unexpected tribute in meaningful stone. The ladies lovingly created two necklaces spelling Vera, one is morse code and the other, an acrostic spelling (using the first letter of each stone) Theresa and Diana were nice enough to sit down with me over coffee and let me pick their brains about their jewelry line and how they work together to create their dream brand.
+Give us the low down, how did Lê Reserve come about?
The two of us are cousins from a large family. Growing up we spent a lot of time trolling thrift shops and flea markets for interesting finds. We were always attracted to gems and minerals, collecting and learning as much as we could. The history, physics, beauty, and energy packed into each specimen blow us away, every time.
While Diana lived in San Francisco, she was in search of a creative outlet and found jewelry metalworking. She fell in love with the craft and the community around it. Inspired by trips to Mexico and the American Southwest, Theresa also made jewelry in her free time down in Long Beach. When Diana (finally) moved back to Southern California, we decided to start Lê Reserve, a space where we can share our love of gems and minerals, make them wearable and accessible. Our goal is to create raw & natural, yet elegant jewelry for fellow rock enthusiasts. To celebrate our huge and crazy family, we named the company after our mothers’ maiden name, Lê.
+We are in love with your morse code necklaces. How did you come up with the idea?
Some of our close family and friends became new moms and we wanted to give them meaningful gifts. We explored some ideas and ended up making a handful pieces spelling out adorable baby names with their birthstones. Everyone loves something pretty, but we think it is great fun if there is more than meets the eye. Combining morse code with gemstones turned out to be pretty, interesting and super customizable. The end result is so special, and now we are obsessed with secret message jewelry!
In fact, after experimenting with morse code, a good friend introduced us to acrostic jewelry, which spells out words using the first letter of each gemstone (i.e. CATS = carnelian, amethyst, turquoise, sapphire). It was popular during the Georgian period through the Victorian era, and worn by Napoleon and Josephine. We love the connection to history. Plus, Di’s guilty pleasure is reading Regency era romance novels, so it’s fun to imagine English heroines donning Le Reserve acrostic jewelry.
We are also currently working on our new line of binary code jewelry – it’s great for single letters or initials. Look out for that soon!
+We love gemstones and often feel connected to certain ones for energy and healing. How do you decide which stones to use? Do you have any personal favorites?
When designing, we usually gravitate towards certain stones intuitively, depending on our mood and goals. We are constantly researching and learning about gemstones. We love stones with unique formations, like Herkimer diamonds which are double terminated (double pointed), sea foam turquoise named for it’s bumpy shape, malachite which has beautiful green banding, or fire opal that shimmers brilliantly in the sun. Black tourmaline is one of our favorites – it is starkly beautiful and helps to deflect electromagnetic energy.
Also, because we do custom work, we try to include as many gems and minerals in our collection as possible to accommodate any preferences.
+What inspires you?
The stones themselves are our first inspiration. Each stone has its own fingerprint and energy, and part of our process is finding materials that best compliment the individual character of the stone. We also love geometry, pattern and color. Art and architecture influence our ideas about proportion and scale. Also, anything peculiar inspires us. We love the unexpected and we’re interested in exploring anything that holds your eye for just a little longer. Finally, and most importantly, our family. All of them are creative and crafty, from our aunts to our cousins. They inspire us everyday to be resourceful and thoughtful.
+What are your favorite spots in Long Beach?
The Long Beach Southeast Farmers Market. Great because it is at the marina, right on the water.
Hilltop Park in Signal Hill for the view.
Rosie’s Dog Beach with our dogs.
Aji for Peruvian food. Kashiwa for sushi.
Any spot in the East Village Arts District.
+Where are your favorite places to travel?
We are in San Francisco all the time because we have family there. It is a great city with so much to see and do. We also love traveling to Vietnam. Our grandmother lives in Saigon, so we get to spend quality time eating great food and riding mopeds around the city. Ha Long Bay is also unbelieveable. Sayulita, Mexico is our favorite spot for a relaxing beach vacation. Theresa visited Istanbul and Zanzibar on her honeymoon, and the colors, patterns, and architecture are insanely beautiful. We are dreaming of Iceland or Peru next!
+Every partnership requires effort, any advice on how you two make it work?
Having grown up together, we know each other very well. We are lucky that our personalities and interests are a pretty well-balanced Venn diagram. We share taste in music and clothes, but we have different backgrounds that allow us to bring our own set of skills to the table. Diana worked in tech start ups and studied entrepreneurship. Theresa has a degree in electrical engineering and is a patent attorney. Our individual approaches bring balance to Lê Reserve and our jewelry. We’re able to share a vision, yet our differences pull each other into spaces we wouldn’t have otherwise explored.
We also work hard on our communication, listen to each other and talk things out. Even when we don’t agree at first, we try to be flexible and open. Ultimately, we’re at our best when we collaborate; we rely on each other’s strengths and fill in each other’s weaknesses.
+What do you do for enjoyment when you’re not designing jewelry?
When we’re not designing jewelry, we’re still working on other elements of Lê Reserve… and we are lucky that we enjoy it! One of the things we love about starting Lê Reserve is all of the opportunities for creativity and learning. We try to put together every element of Lê Reserve ourselves — our photos, website, logo (with a little help from our baby cousin!), merchandising and displays — which means we’ve been doing a lot of photography, woodworking and gardening. We initially only used our succulent and air plant arrangements as displays. But people loved them so much that we’ll have small plant arrangements for sale at our upcoming festivals. Of course, we also love to cook, eat, and spend lots of time with our families.
+We’re always on the hunt for new music and love hearing what people are into. What’s on repeat for you right now?
FKA Twigs, Marriages, Little Dragon, Maya Angeles, Cibo Matto, Tei Shi, Fleetwood Mac, Nina Simone
+What’s your favorite quote/mantra?
“Everything is an opportunity for growth.” – Adopting this allowed me to let go of regret and learn from both success and failure. It also pushes me to leave my comfort zone.
“Make it happen” – Mariah Carey
Theresa Barkley & Diana Nguyen