Unearthen Gives Us a Ring

And a rundown of how it came to be.  

Gia Bahm, the designer responsible for Unearthen’s sweetly tough jewelry, knew exactly what she wanted from her Of a Kind edition: a ring simple enough to be worn every day and special enough to make a statement. To satisfy the tall order, Gia employed a lost-wax casting process and handset each stone herself. “Computers and technology are great,” Gia says. “But I like that this is tangible. It means each ring turns out a little different. You can see someone’s fingerprints all over it.” Below, Gia breaks the whole thing down. —mattie kahn

“First, I’ll select the wax that I want to work with and carve it into the shape that I’m looking for for the ring with a wax pen. I use this very specific X-Acto knife. I’m pretty idiosyncratic about the tools that I like.”

“Next, a mold is made out of the wax model, so that we can cast as many editions from it as we need to.”

“After we cast an individual piece from the mold, we use a rock tumbler to polish it. In essence, it just cleans the piece up, gives it a nice finish, and softens any rough or pointed edges.”

“At this point, we match a crystal to each of the finished ring settings. For us, it’s not like we toss the whole batch into an assembly line and shove any stone into any frame. The fit has to be as seamless as possible, and each prong as to be adjusted accordingly. Nature made this amazing, unique thing, and I want to do it justice”

“We give it one last final polish, and that’s that. We send it off to you.”

Psyched on what you see? Come back tomorrow to score the ring (and get on our email list for a reminder)!

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Gia Bahm’s 4 Rules of the Road (Trip)

Good music is obviously required.

When Unearthen’s Gia Bahm wants a brief escape from her recently adopted Los Angeles home, she takes to the open road. “I love driving, particularly when I don’t know what I’m going to find. The whole process feels incredibly inspiring and even kind of soothing to me,” says the designer, who messes with precious metals and perfectly imperfect crystals to create her jewelry. Here, her four tried-and-true, get-outta-town tips so you can follow in her tire tracks. mattie kahn

“This is a snapshot from the seven-hour drive from L.A. to Arizona, where I was headed for the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show. You can find literally anything there, from the largest piece of rose quartz in the world to the most flawless diamond.”

Trust your instincts: “The fewer rules you make for yourself, the better. Leave yourself time to follow that cool-looking sign or take the next exit just because you feel like it. I’ve never regretted a detour to a teeny thrift shop or antique store. That’s where I’ve found the real gems.”

“This photo was taken in New Jersey at an old-school strip mall. There’s this really special antiques place that I go to out there. It’s one of my favorite spots, but it’s so top-secret that I can’t tell you where exactly it is.”

Do research: “I have a rule that I refuse to eat McDonald’s while I’m on the road. Because of technology, it’s so easy to just look up the nearest grocery store or find a really special, unexpected restaurant. And since a huge part of these trips for me is about being in nature, I always check out swimmingholes.org before I go. The site keeps track of all the hot springs and rivers and watering holes in the country, which are really great places to explore.” 

“This is a picture of Mammoth, California, and the whole area is actually this breathtaking. About a half-hour away from where this photo was taken, there is a string of campgrounds. Each one has its own huge, cedar tub that pipes water in from neighboring hot springs.”

Make a great playlist: “Music is essential! I’m always hesitant to recommend songs, but lately I’ve had these on repeat.”

+ “Fletcher Honorama” by Sparks

+ “Good Life” by Neu!

+ “Radio Waves” by OMD

+ “Bend Beyond” by Woods

+ “I Got Your Number” by Cock Sparrer

+ “Never Let Me Down Again” by Depeche Mode

+ “Strangers” by Kinks

“I captured this moment in Mammoth. It still makes me smile.”

Bring friends: “Tackling long stretches of highway or passing through ghost towns can be really spooky if you’re on your own, so I say bring friends. Always bring friends.” 

Come back tomorrow—and get on our email list—to score Gia’s so-inspired edition.

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Before taking the entrepreneurial plunge and founding Unearthen—her line of raw, sophisticated gems—in 2007, Gia Bahm was living in New York and working as a wardrobe stylist. “I realized I was happiest when I was just messing around on set and improvising little accessories out of scraps,” explains the designer, who spent childhood weekends in her native Seattle shuttling between various arts-and-crafts classes. “I just knew I wanted to try doing my own thing for a while and see what came of it.”

When Gia got down to experimenting, she whipped up pendants that paired gemstones with bullet casings, and they got so much love that she then needed to determine a name for this undertaking. “I agonized over what to call it,” Gia, now an L.A.-dweller, admits. “I wanted something that sounded natural and mysterious, and ‘Unearthen’ just felt right. I like that it’s not a real word. It kind of allows you to interpret it however you want.” And although the line has expanded well beyond its inaugural necklacse into a range that now includes rings, bracelets, lockets, and even pocketknives (why not?), Gia is still all about the making. “I’m obsessively hands-on,” she says. “It sounds insane, but I love finding the perfect setting, the perfect little home for each crystal.” Sounds like, in the process, she’s made a pretty fine home for herself as well. —mattie kahn


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