Written by Betsy Abraham Thursday, 05 December 2013 00:00
Looking for the perfect accessory to compliment your holiday outfit? How about a one of a kind gift for someone special? Jewelry maker and designer Ofra Levin will be coming to the Westbury Public Library on Dec. 9 for a bracelet making workshop, where class attendees will be able to make a four-strand bracelet using semi-precious stones.
“Students will create a one of a kind piece of jewelry, and I’ll be there to guide them and help them bring their ideas to life,” Levin said.
Levin moved to New York from Israel 30 years ago and began working as a diamond broker for a few years, before taking time off from work to focus on her family and raise her three daughters. When her daughters began going to college, she says it felt only natural to go back to the diamond industry. She started learning everything she could about diamonds and jewelry making, getting a degree from the Gemologist Institute of America and taking classes at the Fashion
Institute of Technology. After graduating, she started going to jewelry shows and began buying pearls and stones in bulk, selling them wholesale to stores.
She got into doing workshops by accident, as her friends started noticing and buying the jewelry she would make at home. One of her friends asked her to do a birthday party, and her career took off from there.
“It wasn’t planned, it just took off,” she said. “I realized people wanted to learn how to create original pieces of jewelry so I made the decision to start teaching people how to make pieces no one else would have. A piece of art that would reflect their personality.”
Now, in addition to her full time job as a wholesale fresh water pearl seller, Levin does several workshops at libraries and schools each week. She also brings her classes to summer camps. Levin says her workshops are different from other
jewelry-making classes in that instead of small kits of beads, she has containers upon containers of semi-precious stones, freshwater pearls and high-end materials for students to choose from.
“I have containers of every color stone and in different sizes. They’re real stones and people have a wide selection,” she said.
Levin deals only with semi-precious stones and freshwater pearls, buying in bulk and importing from China to keep costs down. Her favorite stones are turquoise (which remind her of the blue sea she grew up near) and pearls (which she calls the great magic of nature). She says that the pieces she creates have a lot of Israeli influence and are “modern and stylish at times, and classy or ethnic at other times.”
“Israel has a mix of culture and religions, and a diverse population that can’t be found anywhere else,” Levin says. “My work is a combination of different flairs and styles that are influenced by the place I grew up in.”
But more than just creating a piece to compliment an outfit, Levin says jewelry has allowed her to make new friendships. When she comes to libraries, she sees many familiar faces and even has people who follow her workshops to different places.
“I look forward to seeing how these people are doing. We build up relationships and care about each other,” says Levin. “It’s all about the friendships that are formed.”
For more information on Ofra Jewels visit www.ofrajewels.com. Find out more about the upcoming class at www.westburylibrary.org/events-programs.