Modern Heirlooms

Simplicity. The patina of time. Finding beauty in the unexpected. Each piece of jewelry is hand crafted to create one-of-a-kind, modern heirlooms. My values align with the slow-fashion movement, which is based on sustainability and ethical practices. Quality, fine craftsmanship and longevity; these are all details that allow the work to transcend trend or season.

Nature, unusual materials, ancient artifacts and crafting techniques inspire my work and process. The pieces are bold in scale, substantial without being heavy. I balance clean minimal lines with raw organic elements. Eliminating the non-essential is a guiding principle behind my work. Every piece is carefully considered, whether it's hand carved in wax and then cast (Cast Collection), or hand fabricated from sheets and spools of metal and raw stones (One of a Kind & Chain Collections).

Ethical sourcing requires a transparent supply chain. I work with 100% recycled precious metals and purchase stones from small, family-owned mines and individuals who hand collect, cut and polish the materials themselves. All of my materials are carefully researched, so there is an understanding as to where they come from and whose lives they may impact. Each element captures a moment in time; every piece tells a story.

My ancestors were coppersmiths, sheet metal workers and artists. I feel a strong connection to the materials I work with, knowing that my Great-Great-Grandparents worked with them before me. Through my commitment to bespoke craftsmanship and ethical practices, my work advocates a sustainable model of quality, heirloom jewelry.



I graduated from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. My studies included various craft techniques, with a primary focus on jewelry fabrication, casting, welding and metalworking. While living in Los Angeles I was taught the art of stone cutting. My professional studio is located in San Francisco.

Positive change is happening in the industry regarding the use of ethical materials. The number of jewelers demanding recycled metal and ethically sourced stones is growing. Asking questions, voicing concerns to suppliers and keeping the dialog open within the jewelry community are all crucial steps in bringing about these changes.

Studio jewelers and metalsmiths have the power to influence the mining industry. We use our voices to aid mining reform efforts and to help generate industry demand for responsibly sourced metals. I am happy to be part of a large community of jewelers involved with Ethical Metalsmiths, a non-profit organization dedicated to connecting people to responsibly sourced metals and gemstones.

I was the contributing eco-jewelry expert on Season 2, Episode 6 of The Lazy Environmentalist on the Sundance Channel with Josh Dorfman - sharing information about ethical material options and sourcing.




Metal - Cast

I work with a women owned casting company, Jena Hounshell Casting in San Francisco, CA and Outcast & Company in Seattle, WA. The casting grain (silver, gold, brass & yellow bronze) is from United Precious Metal Refining, Inc., they are certified by the EICC - GeSI (Electronics Industry Citizenship Coalition and the Global e-Sustainability Initiative) as a "Conflict-Free" Smelter.



Fossilized Coral

Fossils are often formed by pseudomorphic replacement of the remains by mineral matter. These include fossil coral, fossil fern, petrified wood, dinosaur bone and other fossilized organisms. The organic materials have been mineralized - replaced and infilled by quartz, opal, calcite, pyrite or other minerals. Although the material itself is not organic, it does preserve an organic structure.


Tiger’s Eye & Lapis

Tiger’s Eye is a variety of macrocrystalline quartz known for its striking chatoyancy i.e., the luminous iridescent streaks of reflected light. It’s thought to be a pseudomorph of Quartz, formed as layers of fibrous Crocidolite were replaced by Chalcedony Quartz. A later theory proposes a simultaneous growth of the minerals through a crack-seal vein-filling process. In either case, iron from the decomposed Crocidolite oxidized to a rich golden brown color, and the reflection of light on the fibers produces the iridescent chatoyant quality.

Lapis Lazuli is chiefly composed of the mineral Lazurite, with additional minerals like white Calcite and sparkling gold flecks of Pyrite. It’s color varies from a rich royal blue with golden flecks to a pale blue with more pronounced white flecks.




Vintage components are ideal, as no new resources are being tapped or exploited. I repurpose vintage glass buttons, mother of pearl belt buckles and stones. My Great-Grandparents owned and operated a lace shop and collected vintage buttons and buckles; these treasures were passed down to me and are now given a new life in one of a kind pieces of jewelry.

Kirsten Muenster Jewelry