VAIL — While this weekend marks America’s No. 1 most popular for filling the night sky with fireworks, explosions of light and color characterize Carolyn Tyler’s jewelry designs all of the time, even in the daylight.
Tyler, who hails from Santa Barbara, California, resides in Bali, in a colorful, seven-story home — another of her own designs — that is a spectacle unto itself and has been featured on international TV.
The seed of inspiration for designing jewelry was first planted when Tyler initially traveled to Bali and had a goldsmith recreate a precious opal necklace she’d lost during her divorce. After enough people stopped her in the streets asking where they could find one like it, she launched into her design career. She did so with the belief that every jewelry piece and gem inside of it is sacred and has the power to “find” the exact individual who should wear it. This belief was reinforced when Tyler’s own original opal necklace found its way back to her 16 years after its disappearance, delivered by a woman Tyler met at a trunk show in California. The woman saw that Tyler was selling similar necklaces and said she had one like it. She had received the necklace from a friend who had received it from the person who had stolen it. The woman never felt right about wearing it.
Tyler frequently implements precious objects such as ancient coins and pearls into her work, but is especially inspired to experiment with the affect of colors.
“When I was in advertising, I studied the effects of color on the psyche and mood, mostly to figure out what kinds of packaging compelled people to purchase one brand over another,” she explains. “It’s really true that different hues have different emotional effects on us.”
The designer travels the world seeking precious gemstones of all colors — opals, of course, in blues, lavenders and purples, whites and every imaginable cool shade — and stones covering every corner of the rainbow: jade, amber, coral, diamonds, ammolites, sapphires, rubies, pearls, turquoise and even Venetian glass. She delivers each finding to her team of craftsmen in Bali with a unique design, often inspired the minute she sets eyes on the gemstone.
“It’s like the stone tells me what it wants to be. I make what tickles my fancy and hope someone else falls in love with it enough to take it home with them,” Tyler said. “I want people to feel they have something really unique that they will treasure for a lifetime and pass down to their loved ones.”
As evidenced by our fascination with fireworks, Tyler knows that we humans are drawn to light and color. Her variety, rather than appearing with a loud bang and vanishing within seconds, lasts a lifetime. Several lifetimes, in fact.
“The reason people universally respond to gems or similar things like stained glass or twinkle lights, a sunrise, a sunset … is that things that reflect and refract light remind us of our spiritual home — of God, the force … whatever you want to call it,” she said. “Gems and jewelry speak to us on a basic spiritual level.”