From Peruvian opals to Burmese sapphires

A global wanderlust inspires the custom creations of this Chicago-based jeweller

For those with a soft spot for a big, bold cocktail ring, a chunky necklace and a statement cuff, Chicago-based jeweller Lisa Cotten is a creative force to know. Inspired by everything from travels in India and Italy to her grandmother’s midcentury rattan furniture, her pieces are like miniature works of art.

Striking and sculptural rings are a particular strength, showcasing stones sourced from dealers in India, Bangkok and Paris (Bubble ring with citrine, rhodolite, garnet and iolite set in silver, $1,600, pictured). They range from the extremely simple – stacking collections, garnet and citrine clusters – to dramatic sparklers that incorporate Burmese and other sapphires and pavé diamonds in 18ct gold (from $60,000), as well as the designer’s favoured multicoloured tourmalines, rubies, spinels, topaz and quartz of all kinds.


After working individually with a client to determine colour palette, size and setting preferences, Cotten sketches each piece of jewellery so that it can be precisely tailored to taste. Necklace commissions range from modern pendants that incorporate unusual moonstones (from $11,000) to multilayered strands of citrines and lemon quartz ($2,500-$10,000) and brilliant sea-green strands of chrysoprase, chalcedony and Peruvian opals (from $5,000), as well as bevelled beads hewn from pastel amethysts and tourmalines, rose quartz and hot-pink spinels (from $6,000). Cotten says she “loves collaborating with clients to create the keepsake of their dreams”.

While she prefers to work in 18ct gold, Cotten also creates dramatic settings in silver, and her bracelet range showcases her versatility – from delicate bangles (from $380) that recall the Raj to solid cuffs customised by colour and pattern, and elegant rattan versions (from $5,800).


Most commissions take between three and 12 weeks, depending on the complexity of the project and the availability of particular stones. For the confident woman, Cotten’s creations are a vivid addition to a jewellery collection.