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Working in Santa Cruz, CA, it's hard for Denise Peacock not to be inspired by the vibrant colors of the ocean, foliage, and surrounding mountains. As a jewelry designer, Denise creates beautiful color palettes using delicate beads, pearls, and stones. Her company Delisch Jewelry is one of 17 featured at this year's Holiday Artisan Fair at the de Young. Read on to learn more about Denise and the special place English Breakfast tea holds in her studio.

Delisch Jewelry

Denise, your jewelry has been featured before at the Museum Stores. We’re excited to see what your newest pieces are like. Can you tell us about them?

I am very excited to be re-connected to de Young shoppers! In my experience, they are a wonderful group of people genuinely interested in artisan products with authentic origins, who are keen to support the museum by purchasing at the Fair. I am proud to introduce my new designs featuring a unique combination of gunmetal, Herkimer diamonds, aquamarine and freshwater pearls, with hand-wrought clasps and design elements in organic shapes made from 14 karat gold fill. These build on my signature decorative designs by incorporating pearls and stones, but bring more of an edgy feel with the mix of metals and the predominance of black, via the gunmetal chain.

When it comes to designing, what are essential tools you use or any “must haves” in your studio?

A chasing hammer to form my unique, one-of-a-kind clasps and link elements; an awl to hand-knot the baroque freshwater pearls that I love to work with; Lindstrom tools to best form the wire-wrapped features in my necklaces and earrings; a pot of English Breakfast tea to keep me fresh and focused!

You’re lucky to work in beautiful Santa Cruz. How does being there, rather than a busy city like San Francisco, influence your work?

Being close to the ocean, and close to nature, is very inspirational. The shape of kelp clusters washed up onto the shore after a storm, the erosion of rocks by the waves, the glorious sunsets all influence my work in terms of form, color, and texture. My studio is close to an inland nature reserve, and the changing of the seasons and how that is reflected in the natural vegetation is a visual source of rich and varied palettes for my color line.

I am in love with color, I am constantly observing interesting combinations in man-made and natural settings, and this often leads my inspiration for new palettes. I like to try unusual juxtapositions, like gray and amber and pale, soft green, to see how they marry together. As for this season, I am particularly drawn to teal.

The de Young and Legion of Honor have held some pretty amazing jewelry exhibitions. Do you have a special memory from visiting the de Young? Where is your favorite place in the museum?

I loved the Bulgari exhibit for the bold and innovative combinations of color in the famous bib necklaces, and the detailed descriptions of how each piece is planned and fabricated. The Cartier exhibit was simply stunning, there was so much beauty that I found it difficult to absorb everything and I came back for a second visit! I particularly liked a Deco rock crystal cuff, so simple and beautiful and timeless that it could look equally perfect when worn in 1920 or 2020. And the Tutti Fruiti pieces were fabulous!

As for my favorite place in the museum, I adore the whole building and architectural style, but particularly love the Andy Goldsworthy installation that creates the entranceway and reminds us of how nature is such a powerful force in the Bay Area.

And a fun question: if you weren’t designing, where would you be?

Traveling in Latin America!