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Meet Tracee Nichols of Tracee Nichols Jewelry in Downtown Los Angeles

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tracee Nichols.

Tracee, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I’ve always been moved towards design and art in some fashion from a very young age. My grandfather was a well-known sculptor in Philadelphia and my father also took up sculpting. My father always encouraged art in our home growing up and it was very common to have paintbrushes and sculpting tools in our kitchen sink. In fact, if I went to my father to ask him for help in something I was having trouble in life, instead of telling me what I should do, he recommended that I draw something… draw my thoughts and my feelings and the answer will lie in there. I found this very helpful and soothing growing up, especially in those teenage years. It also helped me to figure out things on my own.

I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. After my parents divorced, I spent my summers with my aunt and uncle in St. Louis, MO. I loved it there. My aunt was an antique dealer and that was my first discovery with antique jewelry. I started my vintage jewelry collection at the age of 9, which I still have today. Jewelry fascinated me in the way of all the detail that was put into something so small and intricate. I started to build my collection and I had a very specific design that I gravitated to… mostly, bold large gold pieces and pieces that looked as though they had a lot of history to them, a sort of story to tell. I would find myself dreaming up stories of the person who used to wear those pieces. I traveled with my aunt all over the midwest in her gold station wagon and we stopped at every antique dealer along the way. I could not wait to know what piece I would find next.

I eventually went off to college and received an AA in Interior Design and a BA in Architectural design. I worked in the design field for a while, I designed custom furniture and one of my specialties was designing custom rugs- that was one of my favorite jobs after college. I always wore my vintage jewelry wherever I went. I constantly received so many compliments that eventually I decided to buy and sell vintage jewelry. I started my first company called, Classic Vintage Treasures. After a few years with Classic Vintage Treasures, I was continually hounded by friends to start my own line. I finally took the leap in 2012 and started Tracee Nichols Jewelry, which is a fine jewelry line. I recognized that there was a true passion for me when designing jewelry. I had a long history of jewelry and it just felt right to go in this direction and start something that I was committed to and fully passionate about.

I design all the time… there are sketch pads and post-its all over my house and in the purse of my designs. I am always looking around in life and the environment for my next creation. Since starting my company in 2012, I realized that just design alone wasn’t enough for me. I love making something pretty, but what drew me to jewelry in the first place? It was the history of the piece, the meaning of the piece and what it meant to the person who wore that piece. There was so much symbolism in jewelry. I needed to add that connection to my designs.

The very first piece I designed represents and is named “Courage”, the next was “Love” and my latest is “Warrior” — soon to come out in late Spring. My designs are also a reflection of the current times, either what people are speaking about or in need of. Each piece has its own meaning to the person who is wearing it… they find what courage means to them or love… I have had cancer survivors write to me and tell me that they never take off their courage necklace, it reminds them every day to have the courage to keep fighting. I had one client write to me and tell me that the Love Token Necklace truly signifies her love for her husband and her family and wearing it every day solidifies that love. These are powerful statements from people that I do not know and this is what drives my passion for creating these pieces.

Has it been a smooth road?
I’m not sure there is such a thing as a “smooth road” for anybody, each person has their own obstacles in one way or another. It all depends on what each person does with those obstacles that can make it either a “smooth road” or a bumpy one. If there was a “smooth road” option, I am not sure that I would want that. The struggles each person has along the way to something that they are really passionate about helps them to figure out solutions to things and ultimately make things better.

To answer your question, it hasn’t been a smooth road, but I’ve been enjoying the challenge.

Probably one of the most significant struggles was being recently divorced and decided to on top of that leave my job where I had financial security. It was a risk, but I knew that I needed to challenge myself to go for it to truly be happy. It was the best decision I made. During this process, I saw what I was made of. I realized that I was more thick-skinned than I thought I was. It was here that I learned the most valuable lesson in design and art. One that I wished I knew long before I ever considered myself an artist and that is — Not everyone is going to like your work, not everyone is going to buy it, but there will be that someone. Someone who will want it. Someone who will buy it… and from there it will continue onto the next person and the next and so on.

Once I realized this, I stopped criticizing my own designs and designed what I wanted to design, not what I thought other people would like. Obviously, it’s important that people like it, but the difference is, it is coming from you- it is ultimately your own creation, not manifested from anything else, other than you.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Tracee Nichols Jewelry – tell our readers more, for example, what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
I am a Los Angeles based jewelry designer. I specialize in fine jewelry.

Using the finest materials, my jewelry is crafted in 14k gold, including white gold and rose gold and set with diamonds, emeralds or rubies, as well as some with beautiful semi-precious stones. Tracee Nichols Jewelry uses the highest quality materials while maintaining an eco-friendly brand. All of the diamonds and precious stones selected are conflict-free and made in the United States.

I strive to create pieces that are modern and graceful, yet harken back to an earlier time when hand-tooled quality was customary.

It is my intention that every person who wears one of my pieces finds their own meaning in the piece and writes their own story for it. Someday, when another generation finds my jewelry in a vintage store, they will feel those emotions that it evokes and hear the story that it has to tell. (Like it did for me when I was a young girl shopping for vintage jewelry.)

I most proud of my first piece and the success that I have had with this piece. It is the Courage Roman Soldier necklace. This piece has been worn by those who love what it stands for and they wear it proudly. I have received wonderful emails from clients telling me their stories and why they wear it.

This piece is important to me because I almost gave up in the second year of my business. I had “decided” one evening that I really should not be doing this business anymore because I have a son to take care of and this is too much work and small pay. The next morning I woke up to a heartbreaking email from a client that brought me to tears. She wrote to me telling me that she had purchased my necklace because she needed the courage to get through her cancer treatment. She was having a difficult time and that she wanted something to signify strength and courage for her to pull through. A year later, she was doing well and she wanted to write to me to thank me for helping her with my necklace that symbolized courage. She wore the necklace every day and it reminded her that she has the strength to survive and pull through and that now she is doing better. I couldn’t believe that I had received this email in such a timely matter. For me, it was a sign. A very significant sign and one that I will always remember because I am still designing today because of it.

What sets me apart is that I design with a meaning. Each of my pieces symbolizes and represent something such as love, courage, valor, strength… they are always powerful messages.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
I like how friendly everyone is. I actually feel very at home in Los Angeles, even being from the Bay Area, Southern California is my home now. The community has welcomed me graciously as a jewelry designer.

What do I like least? That nothing stays open late here! I wish it were like New York or Europe, where you can dine until 2 am.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:

Tracee Nichols, Ray Katchatorian, Jamie Fisher

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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