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Take the Heirloom Update Challenge: Peek Inside Your Jewelry Box Today

It’s hard to know what to feel or how to behave lately. We’re living in very uncertain times, navigating uncharted territory. It feels surreal, as if we just stepped into a new Netflix sci-fi or dystopian binge-worthy series. At times, it’s just plain scary. Maybe I’m exaggerating just a bit. But not by much.

For me, my “day-to-day” schedule is not vastly different. I’m still designing and making fabulous new pieces of jewelry, and still working with many of you on custom orders. For now, my Spring shows are cancelled or postponed, so I’m using technology to keep things afloat. How about you? What are you doing while social distancing and staying home? Are you teleworking?  Are you cooking up a storm in the kitchen? Checking out the latest online streaming yoga workout? Are you taking walks around your neighborhood? Chatting with your loved ones via Skype? I’m going to go out on a limb and say that even in the scariest of times (like right now), most of us are very fortunate to have what we have, and to be able to shelter in place. Truly, it could be worse.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s become very introspective, trying to make sense of things. There’s something about a world crisis that brings our communities closer, and makes the world a little smaller. A lot of people are wanting to give back in some way, to share their talents or resources to help someone in need. To find a silver lining when we struggle to see the way ahead.

Because I’m a jewelry designer, I love to give back in ways that are in line with my talents and core values. I often donate a piece of jewelry for a benefit or host a trunk show to raise funds for a good cause. So, this brings me to ask you something. If you could, right now, raise money for a good cause, while honoring a loved one AND do some Spring cleaning at the same time, would you?

If you answered “yes”, then I challenge you to take the next steps…

While you’re stuck at home, take a look inside your jewelry box. What do you have that you’re not wearing? Maybe it’s a piece you inherited from your mom or grandma. Maybe your great aunt left you a string of pearls. Imagine if you could update those pieces and reassemble them into a beautifully refreshed collection, in memory of a loved one. Would you? Or, maybe raise money for a charity near and dear to your heart? You CAN do this! We can do this together. Right now!

So, how does this work? Easy. Here’s an example of a recent heirloom redesign...

Gay Leffel had a love of travel, collecting art and jewelry from all over the world.  When she passed, her dear friend Abby inherited some of the jewelry that Gay collected on her travels. But Abby’s style was different than Gay’s. Sadly, she knew she’d probably never wear her dear friend’s jewelry. But she didn’t want to just give the pieces away. Instead, Abby chose to honor her friend’s memory while also benefitting a charity that Gay supported. The result is a collection of beautifully redesigned pieces, called the Gay Leffel Lincoln Park Zoo Collection. 25% of the proceeds from each piece, go to benefit the Lincoln Park Zoo.

"Prayerful Peace" from the Gay Leffel Lincoln Park Zoo Collection


Here’s another example…

On my workbench, right now I’m designing and making pieces for the Diane Kessler American Cancer Society Collection. Diane was a lifelong volunteer and activist for those causes that enriched the lives of women, families and children. She died in 2019 from Cancer. I’m working with Diane’s daughter on an heirloom update that Diane would be proud of. A portion of the proceeds from sales from this collection will be donated to the American Cancer Society in her memory.

Ok. Now that I’ve planted the seed, go take a peek inside your jewelry box. What do you see that you’re not wearing and probably will never wear? I thought so. Take some time and sit with these pieces. Deciding to part with them might feel a little difficult at first. But then, try to imagine a whole new life for them, while also doing something good for your community. How does that feel? When you’re ready, give me a buzz HERE. Together we’ll design an heirloom update, and give those pieces new meaning and purpose.

buffalo horn polymer clay heirloom update

"Wonderful, Whimsical Polymer Clay" from the Diane Kessler American Cancer Society Collection

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Pearls. A Timeless American Treasure. Just Ask Jackie!

Pearls. They are classic and timeless. Just ask Jackie! Better yet, join me at Fashion Matters Chicago, Saturday March 7, for: Timeless Style from Jackie - An American Treasure. Fashion Matters Chicago was founded in 2014, to study the relationship between culture and fashion to promote the dignity of women through fashion.

“We want every woman to have a proud understanding and

humble pride of the innate dignity she possesses…”

I’ll be there showcasing my newest pearl pieces, along with my popular Pearl Girl Collection. In support of the Fashion Matters mission, and inspired by Jackie Kennedy Onassis’ signature 2-strand pearl necklace, I’ve designed a modern and slightly updated version of the old classic, and it’s going to be raffled off at the event! You can grab your tickets HERE!


Without question, pearls are very versatile and quite frankly, the Jackie-esque double-strand never goes out of style. But what style exactly? Is it enough to just play it safe and throw on your best “real” or even imitation strand of pearls? I mean, it does go with pretty much anything. And while some people prefer pearls only in the warmer months, to pair with lighter colors, you really can wear them any time of year. And so, I struggle with the notion that pearls have to be conservative and serious. Do they really? Can’t you take a classic beauty and redefine it to fit your own unique style?

You know me, and I think I know you. Us Bobbi-Kahners are all about “funky, chunky and fabulously hip” jewelry. Fantastic, amazing women who are not shy about expressing themselves. Women who prefer to shine with their own unique style rather than camouflage into the masses. Do YOUR pearls represent YOU and your inner beauty?

I’m willing to bet you have a strand of pearls sitting in your jewelry box right now, gathering dust. Maybe they were a gift, or maybe you inherited them from your mom or grandmother. Maybe once in a while, you pull them out, thinking they might be the perfect accessory to go with that flirty sundress or silky sweater, only to think “bleh” and put them back into dark solitude. Too sentimental to toss, not “you” enough to wear. Guess what my friends, you’re not alone, and there’s a solution to satisfy your objections... it’s called an Heirloom Update!

More and more of my clients are coming to me with their strand of pearls, and together we’re redesigning the beautiful (but plain) strand into one or more pieces that are fresh, updated and something that will actually see the light of day rather than be tucked away in a box. Are you with me?

Imagine turning a single strand of pearls into one or more pieces you’ll love wearing every day, and that represent your own personality and style? Together you and I will design something amazing, and fabulous. We’ll give new life to that heirloom, and it will have even more meaning. Here are a few recent redesigns to get your creative juices flowing.

Before                                                                              After











Are you ready to start your Heirloom Redesign? You can reach me HERE to start the conversation, or better yet, come see me on Saturday, March 7, at Fashion Matters Chicago, and we can chat face-to-face! Would love to meet you there! Continue reading

A Feast for the Eyes and Fire for the Soul: Peek Inside the Tucson Gem Show

A Feast for the Eyes and Fire for the Soul: Peek Inside the Tucson Gem Show

Close your eyes. I want to take you on a journey with me…

Imagine a giant tent, the size of a football stadium, filled with something you love. It could be fabric, flowers, candy, or in my case, beads! There are rows, and rows of vendors with long tables and displays, completely covered with strands of beads. Every imaginable color, size, texture and shape. Shiny beads, rough beads, smooth beads and matte. Bone, stone, crystal and metal. Imagine a visual feast like you’ve never seen. Imagine shopping without a preconceived notion of what you’re going to buy, just an open mind and open heart. And when you find that thing that takes your breath away, you say “yes, I’ll take that”. This is the Tucson Gem Show.

What I’ve described is one venue, a mere slice of the many slices that comprise the Tucson Gem show. There are dozens of similar venues throughout the Tucson area during gem show week. Jewelry designers, collectors and shop owners wait all year to attend what is now known simply as “Tucson” amongst regular attendees. Many people, myself included, try to restock an entire year’s worth of materials and supplies at Tucson.

Specifically, I go knowing I need to secure a few customer favorites like, water buffalo horn and recycled record beads. Those are my staples, most of which are already allocated to existing designs. But every year, I’m also searching for something else. For what? Well, that’s the thing. I don’t have a clue, and won’t know until I see it. That special material, or color, or texture that makes me go “wow, I need that”. Even then, I don’t know for sure what I’ll design or make, but I know those beads will speak to me once we’re back home in the studio, just me and them.

This year, in addition to my regular items, I also picked up some gorgeous copper-dyed keshi pearls, turquoise and red turquoise, rose quartz, flower blossom agate, porcelain raku beads, rough cut lapis, coral, shell and wood beads. Whew! My creative wheels are already turning!

Imagine being totally immersed in a visual sensation that literally leaves you speechless, and exhausted. This is the Tucson experience. And yet, my creative brain is on fire and I can hardly wait to get back to my studio to start creating incredible new pieces for you. Let the magic begin!


 blue red yellow beads

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On Manifesting Joy Right Now

I’m not gonna lie. It’s easy to get caught up in the New Year’s Resolution frenzy. I mean, you almost feel like a slug if you’re not trying to weigh less, workout more, worry less or read more. Right? But what is wrong with resolving to love yourself, and your life, right this minute? Hear me out. Whether by upbringing, or societal pressures, we’re bombarded with messages that tell us our lives will be perfect when [fill in the blank]. We're constantly being told the thingamajig we’ve been missing is the key to our future contentment and happiness. Or, we’re encouraged to climb the corporate ladder, or change careers, because then, for sure we’ll be happy. Yet somehow, even when we buy that thingamajig, or get that jobamabob, we’re sated for a minute and then on to the next thing. It’s like a drug… always seeking that next high, and always needing more to get there.

This year, my dear friend invited me to join her in the 21-day Manifesting Challenge. If you received my New Year’s message, you know I committed to live more joyfully. Right NOW. When Michelle brought this manifesting challenge to my attention, I took it as a sign that it would help me with my “joyful 2020” commitment. One of the challenge days had us write a list of all the things we love, right now, about our lives. My list went like this:

1. Herb (my hubby)

2. Making jewelry

3. My dogs

4. A great book

5. An awesome view

6. Being with people I like

7. Having plenty of money

8. Great dance

9. Awesome music

10. Pretty restaurants

11. Nice home and personal space

12. Working out

13. Belonging-Friends

14. Working from home

Suddenly my mind shifted. I got to thinking. Why would I long for something more than what I already have, which clearly is pretty effing amazing, I might add. What could I possibly put on my New Year’s resolution list that could manifest more joy, or make me more content than I am right now?

Lately I’ve heard too many times “when I retire I’m going to [fill in the blank]”. I’m not judging, trust me. I’ve done it too. Sadly, I’ve also heard from too many friends lately that cancer or illness has taken a life way too soon, before they got to that retirement. The phrase “tomorrow is not promised” has never felt more real than right now. I guess you can chalk it up to middle age. Should we live in fear of getting sick? Umm… heck no. That’s not what I’m suggesting. But maybe, while still being responsible, we should practice loving our lives today. Sit quietly with your thoughts for a few minutes, and remember a time when you wished for the very thing or status you have right now. Stay in that moment. Enjoy it. Be thankful and gracious. Love your life, right now.

Manifest that my friends.

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Minimal Packing for Maximum Style!

Let’s face it, your life is jam packed, pretty much all the time. I get it. We’re all running a bazillion different directions, getting things done, crossing items off the list and guzzling caffeine to keep our energy needle on “high”. If you’re anything like me, you have more things on the “to-do” list than you have hours in the day. And just when you think you’ve reached the finish line, (not so fast sister) you remember that 6:00 am flight the next morning that you haven’t packed for. Or that scenic road trip you planned, over the river and through the woods, to visit your girlfriends for the long weekend. Ugh. The very last thing you have time for is overthinking your suitcase contents. So how do you streamline that packing list while still looking amazing, and not sacrificing your personal style (or losing your mind)? Relax friends. I’m gonna share my little secret. Or maybe it’s not so much of a secret, but more like a quick-fix-solution. You’ll look FABulously hip, and you’ll thank me later!

Here’s what I pack (no list required):

1-pair of black pants/leggings

1-black skirt

1-pair of jeans

1 each: black, grey and white top/blouse

1-neutral cardigan or blazer

Black shoes or boots


Matte Grey Buffalo Noodles Necklace from the Water Buffalo Horn Collection

Next, I select 3 of my favorite chunky necklaces. I like to choose pieces that will add a pop of color and visual interest to my neutral backdrop.

For each day on my trip, I can easily, and with minimal thought, put together 9-different outfits. I love the “minimal thought” part by the way. Because by this time I’m done thinking, and just want to enjoy an adult beverage with my besties.

A Musical Medly Necklace from the Water Buffalo Horn Collection

By combining one of the 3 tops, with one of my fantastic necklaces, and either the black leggings, skirt or jeans I can create a fantastic fresh look, and it all fits into one carryon bag. Amazing, right?

Easy Peasy!

Isn't She Lovely Necklace from the Water Buffalo Horn Collection

SHOP the complete Water Buffalo Horn Collection HERE!



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How Can I START Wearing Statement Jewelry, Without Scaring My Friends?

You want to start wearing funkier, chunkier, more fabulously hip statement jewelry, but you're afraid you're going to scare your friends. One customer told me that wearing bolder statement jewelry was on her bucket list. I have met three women in May that told me this was a goal of theirs and together we made that goal a reality. Each customer chose a different starter piece.  Each one expressed themselves uniquely.  And all three look and feel bolder and more confident.

When I design collections, I always try to include at least one piece that is a "gateway" piece. It's for the person who says, "Boy, I'm usually most comfortable with a small circle on a chain, something very unobtrusive, but I'd really like to try wearing something a little bit more bold, a little bigger statement." And so there's always going to be one piece available that would be an easy transition. It will be bolder than your circle on a chain, but not so bold as to make you feel uncomfortable or scare your friends. Here is an example of the "gateway" piece from the "Made from Recycled Records" collection. 

I had a conversation at another show where the customer was afraid. She loved some of the pieces that she was trying on, but thought, "Oh my gosh, if I wear that, people are going to be like, who do you think you are? What are you trying to do?" Sometimes, once you say the fear you are feeling, it kills it. She realized she didn't care what others thought.  She wanted to go bolder and knew this piece, from the "Black Jewelry" Collection looked great and made the statement she was going for.

The third customer, we went through several pieces. She in fact started by looking at some of the smaller scale pieces in my collections and then I said, "Hey, just for fun, let's just try on some of these more bold pieces. Let's just see what you think. Let's see how you feel, and then we can always go back to the original piece you were attracted to, and that'll be a big enough transition." After we did that, she said, "I'll never go back. There's no way I'm buying that small piece. I want to go big or go home." And she bought a piece that looked similar to this one from the "One of a Kind" collection.

These are all the ways that you can comfortably make that transition into more funky, more chunky, more fabulously hip statement, jewelry. You can dip your toe in with a piece like this from the Pearl Jewelry Collection Or you can go big or go home with a dramatic piece of statement jewelry. Remember that when you love what you're wearing, it will show.

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How Can I look Funky without Looking Clunky

How Can I look Funky without Looking Clunky

Hello, Bobbi Kahn-ers. It's Barb Mason, the creative energy behind Bobbi Kahn Design Jewelry, where everything is funky, chunky and fabulously hip.

I was attending a business lunch and I getting dressed. I had a little bit of a dilemma. I thought about fashion do's and don'ts because they weighed in on my decision about how to accessorize. I knew I would be wearing a beautiful pale blue sweater and I knew I wanted to wear these freshwater pearls which I can wear either clasp in back, in the sort of traditional way, or I can put it clasp front in a little bit more of a funky contemporary way.

I knew I wanted to wear these peacock freshwater pearls because they bring out the blue in the pearl and in the sweater. I'm wearing white pants. I thought, oh, it's not Memorial Day which is an old school way of thinking. Another guide date is Easter but I'm Jewish so Easter isn't really my benchmark. Then I realized that really I wear white whenever the sun shines. In the middle of winter I wear white pants. I really think that using a date "rule" for white is a convention to be ignored. I will admit, I don't wear linen unless it's hot. Any color linen, white, any color. I think linen is really a summer fabric, just like I think wool is a winter fabric.

One convention I still follow is coordinating my shoes and my belt.  I was putting on a silver belt and decided that silver shoes were going to be the choice. I'm not going to switch and add a silver purse because who has time to do that? I don't think there's anything wrong with it either. I'm just lazy. I love it when all three: shoes, belt and purse coordinate.

Another fashion question that comes up a lot is whether we should match our necklace, bracelet and earrings or if matchy matchy is a no-no. And I can only tell you that my general opinion about any of this stuff is, nothing is wrong or right if it A: pleases you and B: you feel great in it. I'm really for you doing whatever you want but matching is not my personal preference. I love things that coordinate and so you would find something that kind of goes with it but isn't an exact match. I almost always just wear diamond studs. I'm not a earring changer. I'm not one to match, but I understand that when you're time pressed, which so many of you are out there, that matching it all is just a time saver. It's just one less thing to think about. It's like, when I wear this necklace, I always wear this outfit, these earrings, this bracelet. Boom, you're done. You look great and feel great.

I'm not really a fashion rule follower beyond the fact that when you put yourself together, as long as you feel great, that means you present yourself great and it's super fun. I coordinate my belt and my shoes maybe and that's about it and the rest is all about feeling wonderful.

Keep it funky, chunky and fabulously hip at

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Statement Earrings

I will admit to having a point of view about what statement earrings you “should” wear with my funky, chunky, fabulously hip statement necklaces. And so do you. We are both right!

Many bobbi kahn-ers will only buy a statement necklace if I also have a matching or coordinating bracelet and earrings. One of my long time collectors is a very successful professional and has little time to pull her wardrobe together before getting on the train to the office or a plane to a client meeting. She keeps her pieces in the bobbi kahn signature brown organza bag that comes with her purchase and can grab and go with her set of jewelry and the outfit that coordinates. For her, buying a coordinated set is a time saver. It can be daunting to pick out your outfit and then have to make at least five more decisions - necklace, earrings, bracelet, shoes and some of you even coordinate your handbag. Since I don’t always design sets, I custom create the set for her with each piece she buys. 


When you ask me what earrings go with the necklace you are buying, I share my point of view. I think small, understated earrings look best with a large statement necklace. Do you have a pair of diamond studs? That’s what I wear everyday. It could be that I am just too lazy to change my earrings. If the outfit I’m wearing has a neckline that doesn’t make a necklace dazzle, I put on a bold pair of earrings and bracelet. If all your accessories are big and bold, I think it minimizes the impact of the one piece you are showing off. Now consider Iris Apfel. She has made herself distinctive for wearing so many pieces of statement jewelry that she is a walking gallery. Just goes to show you that whatever you love, and makes you feel fabulous, works.


                earrings barb.png


DO NOT click on this link and look at my earring gallery. Its a total mess. I guess its like walking in to my messy studio where you can tell its full of really cool pieces but its hard to tell exactly where to start shopping. You can see what earrings I am selling but the photography is awful. No worries! On 10/24, I did an entirely new earring gallery shoot with stunning pictures and beautiful models/friends. Soon you will see my current collection. Look for that reveal in the next few weeks.

bobbi kahn-ers have a bold style. What makes you fabulous is how you rock that style when you enter the room. I say, do what makes you feel your most authentic self. If you are asking me what I think, then I’ll tell you to wear a bold statement necklace and small complimentary earrings. And if you love statement earrings, compliment them with a bold bracelet.

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Fall Fashion Trends 2018

Everyone is so sad the the summer is coming to an end. I hear this all the time from visitors to my booth and strangers in the grocery store. Me? I hate summer. Its too humid (such is life in the mid west). The days are too long. I go to bed in the daylight most of the summer. I’m an early to bed, early to rise gal. The heat makes me feel sleepy and there are just so many layers of clothes you can remove before it’s a problem. Worst of all, sometimes, it feels too hot to wear funky, chunky, fabulously hip statement jewelry from bobbi kahn jewelry.



Fall is so hopeful. It’s back to school! It’s cozy clothing! Soon we get to make fires in the fire pit or fireplace. Get ready for Halloween, Thanksgiving and the holidays. This is the time I switch out my closet from cool whites to cozy colors. Fall/Winter trends include copper and brass. To the left is a new one-of-a-kind piece I created using found objects. You ask me how long it takes to make something. In this case, it took me 3 years and two hours! I found these brass elements years ago. I knew they could become something amazing. And it took me this long to conceive and execute this piece. I wore it with a fuchsia jacket made of Sari material that had gold threading, an olive underpinning and black palazzo pants. Need help styling an outfit you have? Lets work on that together!


My other favorite material to shift to in the Fall/Winter season is copper. Copper is fantastic with something black. And copper is in the orange, brown, olive, maize, mustard and plum family - all the delicious shades of the season.



Now, these are how I see the seasons living in the midwest. I think if I lived in the southwest like my customers in New Mexico and Arizona, these would be the shades of my life! I’d see them all the time in vivid sunsets, shadows on the desert mountains, the flowers when they bloom so vibrantly on the cactus. When I visited Santa Fe to see my wonderful sister one time, I bought orange cowboy boots. Had to have them. And each year I see orange cowgirl boots and my fall fashion trend!

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