Explore yourself through accessories: Chicago jewelry designer Alyssa Bove explains her design philosophy

Alyssa Bove
Photo at top: As she wants to integrate all design fields, Alyssa Bove may expand her brand beyond jewelry.(Emily Davis/Emily Davis Studio)

By Xurui Tan
Medill Reports

Accessories are the most, not the least, important part of an outfit, says Alyssa Bove, the 27-year-old owner and designer of TrendingAbove in Lincoln Park. In 2014, when she was an undergraduate majoring in architecture at Miami University, she started to sell gemstone earrings she designed and made on her own on Etsy. “It allowed me to have a lot of trial and error without any pressure because I was in college,” she says.

After graduation, Bove devoted all her time to her business, applying her architecture knowledge to designing earrings and necklaces that sell for $12 to $165. Recently she shared her ideas about creating  and wearing jewelry.

How did you start to design custom jewelry?

I was always passionate about jewelry. I actually started to do jewelry design during my senior year of college. I used to hand-make everything and slowly started to progress toward getting manufacturers. They do 90% of the molds and the templates. There are a few earring styles that I prefer to do myself for the intricacy of the design.

The London Earrings Crystal
The London Earrings Crystal, made of 14k gold filled and sterling silver mental, are designed by Alyssa Bove. This pair of earrings sold for $38 online. (Alyssa Bove/TrendingAbove)

What’s your design philosophy?

The concept of integrating the design fields energizes me. I find innovation by applying principles learned in one discipline and then applying those principles to another disciplines. While pursuing my degree, fashion inspired my architectural studies. I then brought it full circle and applied both architecture principles and interior design concepts to fashion. For example, I took knowledge of arrangement of architecture and the structure of an element to function and related it to how the structure of jewelry piece was going to function-which gemstones each design could hold up or support without weighing down the design.

How do you apply your architectural knowledge to your jewelry design?

The way I sketch a lot of my designs out is how I would sketch out architecture, like the main lines and angles. So like architecture projects, I start with a lot of basic shapes and then move (them) around.

When describing your jewelry, you use the world “buildable” on the website. How do you define this word?

I coach a buildable brand in terms of you can layer on, so you can always start with one piece and go on. So, you can mix and match all the pieces over and make it your own way. I do a lot of layering- and stacking-up pieces, so I can show them that how you can just build upon this first piece and make it your own style on the website and through Instagram.

Do you have any preferred styles of design, both in architecture and fashion field?

For architecture, I definitely like the Baroque style. It has a lot of gold accents over the top. This luxury feel goes into my jewelry design, like having some gold sparkles. I often look at houses on my walk home in Lincoln Park. Things like the window design or the color palettes inspire my next display of jewelry Instagram post.

Do you have any preferred color combinations?

l like mixing metals and many metal colors. That’s probably carried over from architecture. I also like a lot of contrasting colors. In terms of using contrast in colors, I just try to show how do you tone it down, whether it’s with a pair of jeans and a plain T-shirt or just showing how you can wear that.

“TrendingAbove aspires to give individuals an edge to their style and appearance.” You put this description online. Can you explain it more?

One of the things I do is try to showcase how you can style the pieces in a couple of different ways. TrendingAbove is best known for adding a hint of glam into the jewelry, but doing it in a way that adds a little edge. This allows the piece, even a piece of bridal jewelry, to be worn from day to day instead of only for special occasions.

You are considering expanding TrendingAbove to other design fields. What’s your future plan?

I always want to go back into architecture and grow trying to incorporate more products. So this past year in 2019, I started doing hair accessories, whether it’s for weddings or just for everyday scrunchies. I guess the next would be incorporating architecture with jewelry racks or displays of jewelry on. I guess eventually just start doing home design too. So it’s kind of like a well-rounded brand by them.

Note: The interview has been edited and condensed.

Photo at top: As she wants to integrate all design fields, Alyssa Bove may expand her brand beyond jewelry. (Emily Davis/Emily Davis Studio)