Kate Eickelberg’s Pearl and Ball Bearing Necklace

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Classic Twist

Designer Kate Eickelberg takes a modern and fresh approach to a classic pearl necklace

By Tina Snyder

There’s nothing more inspiring to Kate Eickelberg than cruising the aisles of a hardware store.

“While people don’t generally think much about the everyday items and parts found in a hardware store, to me, they are delightful,” she exclaims. Eickelberg’s family appreciates this quirky fascination of hers, often sending her steel odds and ends that they come across. When her brother, an engineer, gifted her with a handful of steel ball bearings, she couldn’t wait to incorporate them into her fine jewelry line.

“The first thing that struck me was just how perfect and round they were,” she says. “I just knew they had to be made into a necklace.”

Coincidentally, around the time she received the ball bearings, the gallery she works at—Shibumi in Berkeley, California—was planning a jewelry show titled “Modern Classics.” Eickelberg immediately got the idea to incorporate the steel ball bearings into a classic pearl necklace.

“There is nothing more classic than a pearl necklace,” she says. “But at the same time, younger generations think of them as ‘grandma’s jewelry.’ I loved the idea of doing a twist on a classic that would make it fresh and new, juxtaposing industrial steel with natural pearls.”

Kate Eikelberg
Berkeley, CA