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in Saks for eight years. Now I'm in jewelry stores all over, mostly eclectic independents that sell unusual items and, of course, West- ern retailers. Th e Western market is what put me on the map. I owe the greatest part of my success to these customers. Th ey are my inspiration: I always listen to what they want or need." Anyone who knows the line can't help but be amazed at the intricacy of subject, expression, color and detail invested in each charm. Whether it's an Indian chief head, a fl ower, cross, heart or bird, each new edi- tion feels like an instant collectible. Some of the pieces are carved, incised like scrimshaw into bone and then handpainted. Others are cut away, such as those made of mother-of- pearl. Above all, they are all interchangeable and can even be worn vertically in what Cordova calls a "streamer." "I am constantly coming up with new themes," Cordova adds. "Hearts, flowers, animals, butterflies, religions, good luck, Western, color-themed, Our Lady of Gua- dalupe, Day of the Dead, Chinese, African, Mexican, the world, love … you name it, I'll create it! Th e cornerstone of my work is versatility — the ability to speak softly (like one charm on a chain) or yell out loud (giant charm necklaces). In years past with pieces I bought elsewhere, the designer decided what it would look like, how long it would be, et cetera: You could only wear it 'their' way. I was forever rearranging it, shorten- ing, and lengthening until it 'fi t' me! I love that my jewelry can be worn a multitude of ways in various lengths! It makes it very per- sonal to the wearer. Th e process is addictive: We aff ectionately call it 'crack-on-a-chain!' Once you start collecting, you can't stop." Th is season's newest collection, combin- ing pearls and silver, is both striking and alluring. Previously, she presented neckla ces with charms in one color like red, pink, green or turquoise. "I wanted to do something more on the feminine side, so white seemed appro- priate," says Cordova. "Pearls are romantic and soft, day to night. You can still add a horse or Indian princess in mother-of- pearl and you have 'soft Western.' The idea of using large carved mother-of-pearl fl owers came to me from my experience doing makeup for television. Th e camera would be equipped with a 'pin light' just beneath the lens, which created a light that lifted up your neck and jaw line. It made you look years younger! Th is signa- ture mother-of-pearl necklace does the same; I call it my facelift necklace." Loved and collected by women of every age, her jewelry crosses markets easily. Young buyers love chains and charms (hip and happening). Middle-aged women like larger chains and charms. Older women love big, bold necklaces; they wish to remain vital and present. But once they start to collect, they're hooked. Just a few well-known celebrities who are serious Coreen Cordova fans include Sharon Stone, Selma Hayek, Pamela Anderson, Ralph Lauren's wife Ricky, Tipper Gore, Dr. Laura Schlessinger, and authors Toni Morrison and Amy Tam — major valida- tion in anybody's book. Perhaps the best part of collecting Coreen Cordova is the surprise — waiting to see what she'll come up with next. She's got something major planned for fall but it's under wraps until then! If you're not a customer yet, you're missing Charm heaven. Get on board while you can. resources Coreen Cordova (415) 455-8805 coreencordova.com SUMMER 2012 Western & English Today 19