MIAMI. Mother-and-daughter team Nancy and Dakota Badia of Buddha Mama Jewelry were sipping Tito’s Handmade Vodka and soda cocktails in a bar along the banks of Chao Phraya river in Bangkok one evening last December when inspiration struck.
The pair had spent the day at their factory brainstorming ideas—one of which was a collection inspired by their family—and had dialed dad at day’s end. They joked with pop, who was home minding the family dogs while his ladies were abroad for 12 days, that their trio of rowdy pooches were probably driving him bonkers! Before serving as a canine babysitter, Dakota’s dad, who was born in Cuba, had shared his passion for stamp collecting with her when she was a child. She carried that memory with her on the annual trip she and her mom took to Bangkok. After bandying about the idea of tarot cards and tattoos that day with the jewelers in her factory, finishing her first cocktail of the evening, and speaking with dad, the idea for their next collection was born: vintage stamp jewelry.
“I’ve always loved stamps, and they have always made me think of my dad,” says Dakota.
So, the Badias sketched out three models that could be made in time for an early June debut at the most prestigious fine jewelry trade-only show in the U.S., Couture. All necklaces, each features a different theme.
The first is Cuba—an homage to her father’s country of birth and a place that Dakota wants to visit. Old postcards further inspired the finished piece: a pendant in 20k gold that is double the size of an ordinary postage stamp, with enamel painting a vivid Cuban street scene featuring a massive 1950s-era convertible cruising down a street of colorful houses under a blazing hot sun. On its backside, Dakota inscribed a verse from Cuban poet and national treasure José Martí: “Il carino es la llave del mundo,” which means “Love is the key to the world.”
A second necklace features a couple in another convertible under a star-filled sky in front of a movie screen at a drive-in theater. On its underside, Dakota inscribed, “And count the stars that’s shining in your eye” from Van Morrison’s “Sweet Thing.” A third style is reminiscent of vintage letter tattoos and features a note reading “P.S. I love you” slipping out of an envelope with a heart motif seal.
“That one is a traditional hands-passing-a-note idea,” explains Dakota.
More cities, including Miami (where the Badias reside), and countries are in the works for future pieces, as are smaller iterations. The first trio of necklaces hits stores this month. To find a style close to you, ring Dakota at 305-439-2059 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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