The spark: "It all started when I walked into a shop in Harare," says Jeffrey-West, who did a study-abroad program in Zimbabwe in the late '90s. She bought local gems, sketched some ideas, and asked jewelers to execute her designs; by watching them, she learned to hammer and solder silver.
The switch: Back in the United States and four years into a PhD in education, Jeffrey-West was still crafting jewelry as a hobby. "A classmate asked me to make a necklace like the one I was wearing, and I thought, 'Are you sure?'" she recalls with a laugh. "It never occurred to me that I could sell my stuff."
The latest: She has recently found ideas in Hawaii (the swirls of bubbling gold and silver in her Magma collection are modeled on melting lava) and closer to home. "At the doctor's office, I saw an anatomical drawing of inner ear tissue and thought, 'That texture is fantastic!'" — Brooke Kosofsky Glassberg
From top: Lotus-shaped honeycomb earrings in 22kt-gold vermeil with flush-set cubic zirconia ($188).; Teardrop pendant in 22kt-gold vermeil with flush-set cubic zirconia on 14kt-gold-filled chain ($238).; Stacking bangle in hand-textured 22kt-gold vermeil ($100).; Multichain necklace with citrine, blue topaz, and clear crystal quartz stones ($375).; Handmade ring with pounded finish and flush-set cubic zirconia ($188).; Rococo lace ring with blue topaz rose-cut stone ($175).