Feature Friday Q&A with Daniele & Steve Passantino of Hozoni Designs

I have been enamored with today's Feature Friday artists for quite sometime now!  If you look back through some of my previous posts, I think you might even spot a few of their other pieces which I am still completely smitten with!

Their use of raw gemstones combined with this element of industrial design just sends me!  I could no sooner pick a single favorite design from their collection than I could a star in the sky!  And when you see the work of Daniele and Steve Passantino - the creating duo behind Hozoni Designs - I think you will agree that they are certainly one of a kind!

So I hope you enjoy today's Feature Friday artists - Hozoni Designs!

1.  What prompted your passion for jewelry and jewelry design?
Daniele:  For me, it was a trip to Sedona, AZ.  There are lots of jewelry stores featuring gorgeous pieces, and I saw a raw aquamarine ring set in sterling silver. I had never really encountered a raw stone before, and I was so captivated by the beauty of the rough gem. It inspired me, and I decided that it was something that I wanted to try to make myself. I took a fabrication class and the business grew from there. 

Steve: I give the credit to Daniele.  She started making jewelry and one day asked me questions about how to fabricate a design she came up with.  Next thing I knew I was hooked on designing and fabricating pieces, and things escalated from there. 

One of my personal favorites, this Rough Garnet & Sterling Silver Ring is pure statement piece!
I adore the mix of industrial design with the amazing color of this garnet!

2.  What is your favorite piece or collection?
Daniele: My favorite collection is our rough and refined collection, which features rough stones paired with cut stones.  I love the contrast that it offers, and I love the color and uniqueness of rough gems!  I’m also obsessed with our 14K Champagne Gold.  I just love the golden bronze/brown color of the alloy, and I think it looks amazing on all skin tones.

Daniele's favorite design from the Rough & Refined Collection is the 14k Champagne Gold & Diamond Ring.
The texture on this ring is simply fabulous & truly a subtle statement piece!

Steve: My favorite piece is our Rough Mint Garnet ring.  This piece embodies the core of our brand and design visions, which is balanced contrast.  By using a rough gemstone and pairing it with faceted stones as well as fabricating a ring that is rustic yet elegant, I believe we achieve that balance and contrast.

Steve's favorite design - the Rough Mint Garnet Ring in white gold.
What's not to love about this rustic yest refined ring?!

3.  What would your perfect “jewelry day” involve / be like?
Daniele: Listening to music and making jewelry with Steve!  We have fun, and I think it’s actually quite therapeutic.

Steve: My perfect jewelry day would be one where I came up with a new rockin’ design, completed the fabrication of a challenging piece, and sold some jewelry to a customer.

I am in love with the texture on this Rose Gold & Diamond Band!  The texture is subtle by still dynamic.

4.  Thus far, what would you say is your proudest jewelry moment or memory?
Daniele: For me, it’s the first time we sold a wedding band.  Selling a piece of our jewelry for something so special – it’s really satisfying.

Steve: My proudest moments are my accomplishments within the fabrication of the pieces. I’m a self taught jeweller and I’m constantly challenging myself by learning new techniques.

Hozoni's Rough Amethyst & Sterling Silver Ring is a big, bold ring!

5.  Where do you find your greatest inspiration?
Daniele: The stones offer a bulk of inspiration. I also like industrial and geometric shapes, and putting an elegant spin on those shapes or ideas.  

Steve: I am definitely inspired by nature.  I love the outdoors and when I am surrounded by nature I am able to connect with my creativity and push myself to new levels.

6.  In your personal wardrobe, do you find that you gravitate to one particular jewelry accessory (rings vs. necklace vs. bracelets vs. watches, etc.) more often than others?
Daniele: Rings!  I have a love affair with rings.  It’s something I can admire and stare at when I wear it, since it’s on my hand.

Steve:  I definitely gravitate to rings as well.

Talk about movement!  The Rough Tourmaline & Sterling Silver Bracelet has it all!

7.  When putting together an outfit, how do you feel about mixing metals, designs and even new with vintage pieces?
Daniele: Most of our pieces highlight contrast with rough and cut stones, mixed metals, and textured and polished surfaces. I love mixing materials and styles and making pieces stand out that way.

8.  Layering seems to be a trend that is here to stay, for now. What are your feelings on the layered look?  How do you like layered necklaces with layered bracelets plus layered rings? 
Daniele: I love it, and one of my favorite things to do is to pair up our pieces in new and unique ways to enhance my outfit.

Another one of my favorite designs is the Rose Gold & Patina Sterling Silver Wrap Ring.  Again with that amazing texture!
How can you not love this ring?!?  It also comes in a version studded with diamonds for a little extra bling.

9.  What advice would you give to budding jewelry designers? To budding fine jewelry collectors?
Daniele:  Don’t be afraid to make your first piece.  I’ve witnessed fellow jewelry makers get so caught up in making something perfect the first time that they end up never starting at all.  A lot of my early pieces were rough around the edges, and far from perfect, but they ultimately led me to where I am now. I believe that exploration is a necessary process. 

The White Gold & Diamond Necklace is another stunning design with that signature texture that I find SO appealing!

Steve: Be fearless!  Don’t be afraid to design whatever comes to you.  Let your creativity flow and take its own journey.  You may be surprised where your designs lead you. In my experience, my creativity and designs are continually evolving and I try to not let my head get in the way.  It’s also important to accept that if jewelry is to be one’s primary career, a designer does need to design collections that consumers will purchase.  Usually, if I try to force a design into the “sellable” category I get jammed up.  What I’ve learned is that if I connect with my inspirations and let my creativity flow, I come up with designs I really connect with.  I can then decide which ones make sense to produce and add to collections.  In regards to fabrication, don’t be afraid to try anything you think of - as long as it is safe.  Don’t hold back, even you have no experience with a particular technique.  And don’t be afraid to damage a piece in the middle of your fabrication.  It will happen and you can always try and fix it or start over. 

Flash Question - Dream trip destination?
Daniele: Italy

Steve: New Zealand

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