“On a typical day, I’d be in my studio designing,” said Irene Neuwirth, a jewelry designer known for her use of candy-colored gems. “It’s what I love to do and where I love to be.”

But while sheltering in place at her home in California, Neuwirth hadn’t just lost access to her creative space, but also to her storage of precious and semiprecious stones. What’s a jewelry designer to do without her jewels?

Go back to the basics — sketching and painting — and play around with some new materials.

Here, Neuwirth used one of her spring 2020 designs as inspiration for a colorful, one-of-a-kind necklace. She completed the project in about three hours, she said, “with pauses to take the dogs out, sit in the yard, answer emails.”

Your Toolkit

— A watercolor paint set

— Scissors

— Plain white paper

— Double-sided tape

— Thin ribbon, twine or something similar, to use as a chain — about 30 inches long

Draw each flower in slightly varying sizes, with the largest being about 3 inches in diameter. Ideally no two blooms will look exactly alike; that’s the charm of the project. (Irene Neuwirth via The New York Times)
Draw each flower in slightly varying sizes, with the largest being about 3 inches in diameter. Ideally no two blooms will look exactly alike; that’s the charm of the project. (Irene Neuwirth via The New York Times)
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Step 1

Make the Flowers

On white sheets of paper, Neuwirth drew seven distinct flowers, using her turquoise tropical flower cuff as a guide. Then she painted each flower in shades of blue, pink or yellow.

Draw each flower in slightly varying sizes, with the largest being about 3 inches in diameter. Ideally no two blooms will look exactly alike; that’s the charm of the project.

Fill in each with a watercolor — either the summery palette Neuwirth chose or your own combination of colors. Let the flowers dry before cutting out each one.

Irene Neuwirth, a jewelry designer known for her use of candy-colored gems, used one of her spring 2020 designs as inspiration for a colorful, one-of-a-kind necklace. (Irene Neuwirth via The New York Times)
Irene Neuwirth, a jewelry designer known for her use of candy-colored gems, used one of her spring 2020 designs as inspiration for a colorful, one-of-a-kind necklace. (Irene Neuwirth via The New York Times)

Step 2

Make the chain

Using your double-sided tape, fasten the back of each flower onto your ribbon or twine.

Arrange the flowers so that they’re all touching, with some edges slightly overlapping.

Tie the ends of the ribbon in a bow.