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Artist

Maral Rapp's lifelong focus on art, design, and craft, commitment to personal style, and obsession with vintage objects were all firmly in place by the age of nine—and still drive her today. She is fortunate to live them all daily in the creation of this singular metal mesh jewelry. With a Bachelor of Science in interior design, and following a career in graphic design, she developed this line of jewelry through a more personal route—she just wanted to wear it. 

Forever drawn to the flashy, fluid metal of Art Deco mesh purses, Maral found it difficult to incorporate the bags into her own style. One day, after deconstructing a small gold pouch to create a simple wearable necklace, she was flooded with ideas for contemporary jewelry featuring the iconic mesh material. It still excites her today.

Metalsmithing classes enabled her to construct and detail the pieces, but there was no rulebook for Maral's unique method of working with the mesh itself. That's an ongoing exploration of the medium, yielding new design ideas at every turn—frequently as puzzles to be solved. Glittering fragments of a bygone era, the resulting works are rich with history yet decidedly modern.

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Process

Metal mesh from vintage and antique purses is carefully deconstructed, re-engineered, and hand linked with precious metals to form contemporary, wearable pieces of jewelry. The articulated mesh has very specific physical properties and successful jewelry designs are executed within a variety of constraints. Encouraging the fluid material into pleasing, stable shapes is an ongoing study of tension and release, always with a focus on gravity.

Large earrings employ hand formed armatures that display the mesh in a flat, open canvas. Framed Mesh pieces draw lines of dark chain around the borders of gold mesh elements—all hand linked—delivering graphic impact but also providing finish and structure to the mesh shapes. Joinery around these elements is soldered or welded directly chain-to-chain, without bulky jump rings, drawing smooth, uninterrupted lines throughout the work. Detailing is minimal and discreet to best feature the beauty of the iconic mesh material.

Hand crafted in the hills of Oakland, California, in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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materials

Pieces are finished with oxidized sterling silver, 22 karat gold plated vermeil, 14 karat gold filled, and select vintage brass. Earrings are always 14 karat gold filled or sterling silver.

Metal mesh purses are exclusively signed, Whiting & Davis and Mandalian bags—the iconic brands—all manufactured in the United States and Canada. Chipped, torn, tarnished bags are sourced from antique dealers, estate sales, and flea markets—the mesh selection ranging from antique, heavily worn patinas to newer, bright finishes. Reclaimed mesh is silver or gold plated brass dating from the 1890s through the 1980s, the earliest versions including colorful, originally hand painted enamels. Certain pieces are offered in new metal mesh, also exclusively Whiting & Davis, which is still produced in Massachusetts on the company's original machines from the 1930s.

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care+storage

Even if you love a rustic patina, it's best to remove the mesh jewelry before sleeping, swimming, or bathing. Always apply lotions or perfumes before jewelry.

We have washed the vintage mesh before use, but if you ever need to clean it, just lightly buff the pieces with water and a cloth, or a soft toothbrush, if necessary. Particularly for the older mesh, thorough drying is very important. To dry the inside of the links, you might use light heat from a blow dryer or place the jewelry in direct sunlight.

Earrings are best stored alone, protected in their own spot or hung on a hook. While metal mesh material is not particularly fragile, the individual links do have very tiny tines. In addition, some of the older enamel paint finishes will continue to wear over time. Necklaces can be stored any way you choose, but a hanging necklace is always less prone to tangle.