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Designer Profile: Ashley Morgan Designs

November 1, 2015

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Designer Profile: Ashley Morgan Designs

November 1, 2015 BY Alon Ben-Shoshan IN Artisan Craftsmanship

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In 2005, Ashley Berman had just returned from a six-week tour of India when she launched her first jewelry collection. The temples she had visited in Goa, Mumbai, Bangalore, and Delhi were fresh in her mind, and the Hindu and Buddhist symbols she saw were fascinating. The visual landscape from her travels inspired her first collection, which was composed of 20 necklaces, 10 earrings, 5 bracelets, and 15 rings. With her husband Morgan, she took the collection on the road, journeying across the United States. She made a list of 50 stores she hoped to displays her work in. Five years later, her jewelry would appear in 170 stores across America.

 

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Ashley Morgan is the jewelry line helmed by husband-wife couple Ashley and Morgan Berman. They both grew up in Colorado, met in high school and were long-time friends before they got married. Now they work together on the 11th floor of the historic Shreve Building in downtown San Francisco. Ashley is the creative mind behind the line. She is also a trained goldsmith. In her quaint studio, she sketches designs and meets with clients looking for one-of-a-kind pieces. Morgan oversees the business side. Their work is a family affair.

 

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Ashley recalls growing up in a very artistic household—her mom was a watercolor painter. But her first memorable encounter with jewelry was at a Native American reservation when she was seven years old—her dad was teaching baseball on the reservation. Her parents took her to meet a silversmith on the reservation, and she was mesmerized by his stories. As she tells it now, she realized then that jewelry wasn’t merely an object: it was an amulet with talismanic properties through which stories could be told and commemorated.

A decade later in college, she began taking silver-smithing classes, and at 19, started a side jewelry business that sold to the top clothing stores in Fort Collins. She used the profits to pay her way through college. After deciding to pursue jewelry full-time, she moved to San Francisco to study goldsmithing at the Revere Academy. She saved up a small amount of capital while working for a clothing designer and apprenticing to a goldsmith in Pacific Heights. She started her own jewelry line with a mere $1000.

 

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Ashley describes the aesthetic of her jewelry as California chic—the kind of jewelry that can seamlessly transition from casual daywear to elegant, black-tie adornment. Her designs are often colorful, with mixed metals, brightly colored gems, and intricate pavé work. Diamond slices, in particular, appear in her work often—she finds them to be whimsical and approachable, with each piece possessing slightly different veins and imprints.

 

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Today Ashley Morgan focuses primarily on private client work—unique, personalized designs that are exclusive, one-of-a-kind experiences. No longer merely the observer, Ashley gets to help people tell the kinds of stories that first captivated her as a child.

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