Shauna Neely is no stranger to the spotlight. While you may not know her name, believe us, you know her jewelry. Her designs have graced the wrist, earlobes and necks of some of the hottest celebrities and have even graced the pages of Lucky and People magazines.

Just this year, Shauna’s jewelry was worn on each model in Tracy Reese’s spring 2011 collection show during New York Fashion Week. She also counts Alicia Keys and Eve as fans of her work. If you follow her every move on Twitter, you know at any given moment a snapshot of her latest work could be twit-pic’d at any second (check out this 18k gold lemon citrine ring she revealed for a very special client).  Possibly her biggest accomplishment to date: partnering with diamond dealers Manny Winnick & Sons to design Miami Heat star Chris Bosh’s engagement ring for fiancée Adrienne Williams.

Read on to find out the inspiration behind her successful jewelry line, and what she has planned for the future.

Coco+Creme: Tell us a little about your background and what inspired you to create Shauna Neeley jewelry.

Shauna Neely: I attended The Academy of Arts College in San Francisco where I grew up but I didn’t study jewelry design as I wanted to be a buyer. It wasn’t until after I finished modeling that I began actually making jewelry so I am self-taught. I modeled in NYC for over seven years and was fit model to designer Michael Kors, Richard Tyler and Liz Claiborne to name a few. During my many years working with Michael, I gained a true understanding of the modern working woman and started understanding fashion in its entirety. With that knowledge of simple classic elegance that Michael Kors’s collection exudes, I really fell in LOVE with 18 karat gold wire and began creating these amazing delicate hoopy creations that are classic and timeless and that is influenced by the ever evolving fashion trends. Gold and hoops are and will always be classic.

C+C: What is your all-time favorite piece from your collection and why?

SN: If I had to pick a favorite piece I truly love the snowman hoops. They can be worn with anything from jeans and tank to an evening cocktail dress, timeless elegance.

C+C: How important is it for designers to know their audience?

SN: To be successful in this industry, I believe it is paramount for a designer to know their audience. Not knowing your demographic is recipe for disaster. I consider myself a tastemaker in NYC and that lends me the advantage of knowing what’s REALLY hot and salable.

C+C: Who wears Shauna Neely Jewelry? Describe the type of woman she is.

SN: Besides a host of high level celebrities such as Alicia Keys, Beyonce and Eve, the type of woman that wears my jewelry are women that love to make a statement. A woman that is confident, strong yet soft and carries her sexual appeal in the graceful way she carries herself, an intelligent woman that speaks her mind but knows when to fall back and just listen.

C+C: Do you find it hard to compete now that celebrities such as Kim Kardashian and Nicole Richie have now endorsed or started making jewelry?

SN: When it comes to reality show celebrities creating jewelry lines, I applaud them for taking advantage of their fame. With their platform they would be foolish not to capitalize off of their moment in the public eye. However I feel zero competition from a creative perspective because I know for a fact that they are not true jewelry designers. If I found out that they’ve discovered a hidden talent I would have tremendous respect for their craft. But I know better than that! Ha! Can’t knock their hustle but nothing beats a jewelry designer getting shine for exercising their God given talent.

C+C: What’s next for the line?

SN: Up next for Shauna Neely Jewelry is my very exciting partnership with premiere diamond dealers Manny Winick and Sons in NYC’s Diamond District. Together we have created stunning fine jewelry (think Van Clef and Arpel and H. Stern). From engagement rings to stunning Oscar worthy diamond necklaces, we will make an indelible stamp on this industry.

Check out our favorite pieces from the collection below. For more information, visit ShaunaNeely.com.

-Krystal Franklin

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