Maker Stories

Natural Beauty: Nancy Nelson’s Forest-Inspired Jewelry

December 10, 2012

Take one look at Nancy Nelson’s jewelry and it’s obvious that she’s deeply inspired by nature. The organic shapes, earthy feel, and, in some cases, the actual natural elements used—such as the raw semi-precious stones in her Aquamarine Branch Ring –all celebrate Nancy’s love of the outdoors.

The ring, and her beautiful Blue Pinecone Necklace, were both featured in our community voting app, where they received some fantastic feedback from our online community. But before the designs made their way to our buying team, and even before the first pieces of brass and silver used were cast, these creations started as found objects in the forests near Nancy’s West Virginia home.

“I live in a small town 2.5 hours west of Washington DC,” Nancy told us. “It is an area filled with nature trails, state parks, and adventurous outdoor activities. Our family spends much of our time exploring the outdoors. It was during one of our adventures in the Appalachian Mountains that I spotted the twig for the Aquamarine Branch Ring.”

While the ring doesn’t actually contain this original twig, it does feature the exact likeness of it, because the sterling silver band is hand-cast by Nancy from a mold made of that very piece of wood.

Like that perfect twig, the pine cone that became the model for the Blue Pinecone Necklace was also selected on a family outing, while visiting the place Nancy’s children like to call the “Magic Forest,” Swallow Falls.

“We collected tiny pine cones from the forest floor as we hiked,” said Nancy. “With our pockets full, we took the pine cones back to my studio where we examined each one. I then selected the one I felt was the most beautiful in form, shape, and texture. When choosing the perfect pine cone, I took into consideration [its] size and weight. Since all my castings are solid, this is one of the most important aspects in choosing a good model. The pine cone had to be lightweight enough to hang comfortably from a necklace.”

Once cast, the brass incarnation of the pine cone is given a blue patina, which Nancy hand-paints. Nancy explained why she chose to add this hint of blue, “It stems from my love of lichen that grows on the trees, rocks, and fallen pine cones throughout the moist forest which is dominated by tall Hemlocks. I wanted to transform the pine cone and add color but I wanted it to be a little more controlled, which is why I decided to patina the edges.”

While these majestic hemlocks, fallen pine cones, and the other wonders of nature that surround her definitely influence Nancy’s work, she does have other muses. “Being a mom, I usually do not have to look far for inspiration,” she said. “My young children’s growing imagination and quest for exploration inspires me to think outside of the box and challenge myself to create something timeless yet interesting in form—something uncommon.”


  • Reply Jacqie December 10, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    Love Nancy’s work! She’s an incredible person and inspirational free spirit. Her work is nothing less than magical.

  • Reply Shirley December 10, 2012 at 9:45 pm

    Love the wonderful pieces inspired by nature!

  • Reply ReBecca January 15, 2013 at 4:52 pm

    I love your Aquamarine Branch Ring. I am wondering if you can make it in a size 12. I am willing to pay the additional cost.

  • Reply Samantha August 22, 2013 at 1:14 am

    Hello there, My boyfriend got me an aquamarine branch ring back in late February/ early March and today the middle post separated from the “branch” and a little piece of the gem separated from the ring as well. I was wondering if there was any way to get it repaired…

  • Reply cassie August 22, 2013 at 9:46 am

    Hi, Samantha! Sorry to hear that your ring broke. We’ll gladly help you with a replacement! Please give our customer service team a call at 1.888.365.0056, email,. or click on the “live chat” link on our homepage and a member of our customer service team can take care of it for you.

    Cassie | UncommonGoods

  • Reply jeanette November 23, 2013 at 4:47 pm

    W OW ! ! I just found your site I Love your ideas .” AND” you take care of us if something breaks . I’m finding Christmas Gifts GBY!!! and thanks AGAIN

  • Reply Camille August 6, 2014 at 10:59 pm

    Hi I bought a birch bracelet with the heart and initials carved into the cuff. It is my favorite bracelet. I’ve had it for a year or so now and it has lost it’s luster. Also the initials are difficult to see now as the dark coloring of the initials have faded. I’m guessing it was oxidized somehow. Can you suggest a way to get the cuff shining again and the initials to stand out? Thanks!

  • Reply Karen February 25, 2015 at 2:08 pm

    Would like to know if I can get anything else but initials on your birch cuff bracelet? Was hoping to get sissy’s @ ❤. Thanks. Karen

  • Reply Cassie February 27, 2015 at 5:53 pm

    Hi Karen,

    We’re so glad you like the bracelet! Nancy is able to make one featuring a full word instead of just initials, but the font will have to be a bit smaller than the one pictured on our website. Our custom orders team would be happy to help you. Please email or give us a call at 1.888.365.0056.

    Cassie | UncommonGoods

  • Reply Karen Mahan February 28, 2015 at 3:38 pm

    Just a note of thanks to Cassie, Nancy and Eileen for helping me out with my customized order! My wonderful sister-in-law will be so happy to get the bracelet, she loves mine and she means the world to me! You have been great to work with and I appreciate you accommodating my request!

    Thanks so much Karen

  • Reply Elegant to Edgy: A Guide to Jewelry You'll Love | UncommonGoods August 13, 2015 at 9:19 pm

    […] Nancy Nelson gets her inspiration, and materials, from nature. The bark that created the cast for this brass cuff is the perfect backdrop for Nancy to carve your initials. The little heart cutout is an extra drop of  sweetness. | Personalized Love Birch Cuff […]

  • Reply Michael October 16, 2015 at 12:51 pm

    Hi Nancy-

    I would love to surprise my wife with the ‘personalized love birch cuff’ as an anniversary gift and I would like your help with who’s initials should come first (girls initials then the guys)?


  • Reply Cassie October 19, 2015 at 11:10 am

    Hi Mike,

    We’re so happy that you’d like to give Nancy’s beautiful Birch Cuff to your wife as a gift! There is no convention as to which set of initials should go first, so you can put them in whichever order you’d like. Thanks for asking.

    Cassie | UncommonGoods

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