Good Things From the Garden

Bird Haven Farm's flora and fauna inspire whimsical jewelry designs.

Jewelry designer Janet Mavev.
Photo by Rebecca Staska

Do you ever hanker to adorn yourself with organic motifs? Check out the hip jewelry that designer Janet Mavec is creating at Bird Haven Farm, her Hunterdon County retreat. The plants and animals on the farm are the inspiration for Mavec’s Orchard line of necklaces, bracelets and earrings.

For more than 20 years, Mavec owned J. Mavec & Company, a shop on Madison Avenue in Manhattan that specialized in estate jewelry. As she was closing that business in 2007, she began to feel a strong desire to design her own pieces in gold and silver. Her concept initially garnered the interest of Bergdorf and Tiffany, but they opted out. Mavec’s fashion jewelry collection didn’t actually materialize until 2012.

“Finally, I convinced myself to do it,” she says. “I always wanted to make things, so I paid attention to the intricacies of design for a long time. I was happy to combine the two things I love most—gardening and jewelry.” From the window of her barn studio, Mavec came to view the apples in her orchard, acorns on her trees and skinny string beans from her garden in a new way. “Vegetables are totally underappreciated in the design world,” she says.

The second time around required Mavec to ponder a new design strategy. “After decades dealing with antique jewelry, I considered every way a cast could be assembled,” she says. “So I decided to retool my designs to be cast in brass rather than gold and silver. And that was the right decision, because working with brass allowed me to lower my price points, and that’s what people really want.” The brass pieces have a desirable antique-gold or silver finish, reminiscent of the estate merchandise Mavec once sold.

Her first creation to turn heads was the Peace Dove necklace; it’s still a top seller. Each year Mavec debuts two collections. This spring she is featuring her pansy, eel and cicada designs.

“Orchard jewelry can be worn anytime, anywhere, just for fun,” says Mavec. “I’m happy that my collection has taken root—and pleased that people find my pieces appealing.”

Mavec’s creations are available at her website or through retailer Jennifer Dengel, located at the Sugar House Bakery in Garwood (18 North Avenue; 917-519-3483).

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