The minimalist jewelry designer: Allison Mooney of Allison Mooney Design | Feature | Chicago Reader

The minimalist jewelry designer: Allison Mooney of Allison Mooney Design 

Her pieces have been picked up by Nordstrom, but she remains a DIY type.

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ISA GIALLORENZO
  • Isa Giallorenzo

Minimal. That's the word that Allison Mooney’s jewelry brings to mind, but it's not the only one. Her work is both delicate and edgy, no-frills yet extremely light and feminine, and contemporary to the core.

"I love midcentury designs—the clean lines and use of simple materials,” she says. “And I love when there’s an odd shape thrown in here and there. I don’t want to do anything ornate, and I often try to see how minimal I can make something.”

Mooney, who's 47, utilizes sterling silver and 14-carat yellow and rose gold fill to create durable pieces that quietly stand out. Less is definitely more for her: there's a double finger ring ($48) with a surprisingly comfortable single hole and a hairpin ($20) made of a simple metal string that can hold the heaviest of buns. Her geometric necklaces ($108) have no fasteners at all.

"I love to see how few solder joins I can get away with—it's like a personal challenge," she says. Her elegant designs have been picked up by stores such as Nordstrom, but currently Mooney prefers the intimacy of local markets.

"I had thought I wanted to pursue a large retailer again when I moved to metalsmithing," she says, "but I have found I much prefer selling on my own. I enjoy sharing my work with people, and usually have a great time doing it. There is such a wonderful community of makers in Chicago that I get to spend my day with—and there's usually wine!"

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The busy mother of two young girls also uses her practice as a way to make some time for herself, working at the metalsmithing studio Benches on Division in the evenings. Mooney says she tries to pass on to her daughters the DIY ethos she picked up from her art-teacher mother: "We would see something and she'd say, 'Let's try making it,' and we'd head out to the art store. And she's still the same!"

Mooney's enterprise seems to have helped her accomplish her goals: "I want to be able to be home with my girls but still have a business. I want to make something you will love, I want to show my girls you can do anything you set your mind to, I want to support my family, and I want to have some adult time that hopefully involves wine." Allison Mooney Design, allisonmooneydesign.com. v

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