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Inspirations

Designer Emily Wheeler’s La Selva Jewelry Collection Has a Tropical Vibe You’ll Love

Necklace in 18k yellow gold with 127.91 cts. t.w. rough tourmaline crystals and 7.69 cts. t.w. sapphires, by Emily P. Wheeler, price on request; available online at Emily P. Wheeler

New York City. Dec. 31, 2020. For jewelry designer Emily Wheeler, pandemic lockdown days left her feeling sad and nature deprived, but interestingly enough, that’s when her newest offerings were born.

“L.A. was completely shut down, and I was feeling very deprived of nature, which is why I wanted to make a collection around it,” she explains. 

Wheeler had had an idea for a luscious-looking flora and fauna line, but it wasn’t until quarantine set in that she acted on it, reaching out to local florist Pretend Plants and Flowers for assistance. She asked them to deliver weekly jungle-inspired arrangements in specific color palettes. They countered with an even better suggestion: show us your Pinterest board and we’ll get Amazonian plants that match those colors. Wheeler responded with a request for greens, reds, blues, and yellows because she had specific gems in mind—tourmalines, sapphires, turquoise, peridot, and the “fun and random” offering of Shattuckite (think Caribbean blue crystals and slab material with woody and/or green veins) and Leopard opal.

“Shattuckite is a mineral that is mostly found in mines in Arizona and Mexico, and which I discovered in Tucson last year,” she says. “Shattuckite is a mix of copper silicate crystallized with malachite.”

Like many of Wheeler’s selections, they are uncommon and carefully curated. “I wanted to make a smaller collection that is mostly one-of-a-kinds,” she adds. “It’s a weird time and people aren’t buying a lot, but I think when they do buy, they want it to be something timeless, special, and personal.”

All the diamonds used, including pavé, are colorless and VVS1 clarity. “A lot of designers don’t bother with all that anymore, but quality has always been a priority for me,” she says.

Meanwhile, the finished pieces definitely transport viewers to a greener place. Hourglass earrings feature trillion-cut padparadscha sapphires, Leopard opal, and tourmaline, a mix that Wheeler calls “jungle cat” in appearance. Plus, all the different pink and orange sapphire hues bring to mind an ombre-tone flower. “Those subtle variations in color are so beautiful in nature, and I try to bring that through with my work,” she says.

Her absolute fave piece? Moss earrings with faceted turquoise melee. “My jeweler in L.A. did a good job—that [turquoise] can break easily.

And the name La Selva? It’s Spanish for jungle—a fairly straightforward choice given her southern California residence. “I didn’t want to name it Amazon because of the obvious association with the retailer,” she jokes.

La Selva debuted with 30 SKUs in 18k but expect more to come. Retail prices start at $3,800.

Ring in 18k yellow gold with a bicolor tourmaline, by Emily P. Wheeler, $8,400; available online at Emily P. Wheeler

Ring in 18k yellow gold with a bicolor tourmaline, by Emily P. Wheeler, $8,400; available online at Emily P. Wheeler

Moss earrings in 18k yellow gold with 12.46 cts. of yellow and green rose-cut sapphires, hand-carved turquoise, faceted turquoise melee, and green tourmaline, by Emily P. Wheeler, $14,000; available online at Emily P. Wheeler

Ring in 18k yellow gold with a bicolor tourmaline, by Emily P. Wheeler, $8,400; available online at Emily P. Wheeler

Necklace in 18k yellow gold with 127.91 cts. t.w. rough tourmaline crystals and 7.69 cts. t.w. sapphires, by Emily P. Wheeler, price on request; available online at Emily P. Wheeler

Necklace in 18k yellow gold with 127.91 cts. t.w. rough tourmaline crystals and 7.69 cts. t.w. sapphires, by Emily P. Wheeler, price on request; available online at Emily P. Wheeler


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