After designing for firms across the world (from Vermont to Madrid to Florence), Jessica DeCarlo returned to New York to set up her own studio, a home base for her stylish-yet-playful, conversation-starting jewelry. We caught up with Jessica during some rare downtime to talk about how she got her start, and where in the city we should be shopping for awesome accessories.

SCOUT: I can't help it, I'm going to start out a little self-serving! What are your favorite under-the-radar spots for great jewelry?
JESSICA: There is so much great jewelry everywhere you look in this city, it’s totally overwhelming. It may not be so “under-the-radar” but I really admire some of the designers at the Brooklyn Flea, they are all such hard working creative people, especially Angela Spencer of A.S.I.S. Her designs are truly original. I’m also addicted to digging around for vintage/antique jewelry there. My collection is growing fast and I never seem to get enough of it.

SCOUT: When did you first start designing?
JESSICA: I stumbled upon an enormous bead store in midtown when I was 13. I became infatuated with the aisles and aisles of gemstones and wouldn’t leave the store. I must have put together about 20 necklaces the following week and that was that. I went on and worked in different jewelry shops, apprenticed with several goldsmiths, and was a design assistant for some amazing designers. I always knew that designing jewelry was what I wanted to do and can’t imagine doing anything else. I think it’s true love.

SCOUT: How would you describe your pieces to someone who hasn't seen them?
JESSICA: My pieces are earthy and elegant, playful yet sophisticated and 100% handmade.

SCOUT: What are the biggest challenges you run into while creating?
JESSICA: Keeping up with demand while finding time to create new designs.

SCOUT: Who are the major influences on your work?
JESSICA: I’m a big fan of Mother Nature.

SCOUT: Does your experience as a New Yorker have an effect on your process?
JESSICA: Yes, every day. The energy here keeps me moving and thinking fast, but I also find a lot of inspiration on trips outside the city to have some calm, like in Vermont (as in a cabin in the deep woods of Vermont).

SCOUT: Okay, shameless plug time: What's on the horizon for Jessica DeCarlo Jewelry?
JESSICA: We’re getting ready for some major tradeshows this summer, which I’m excited about. We’ll be at the New York International Gift Fair featured in the Artisanal Jewelry Showcase. We’ve also been working hard on some new designs and collections (including a brand new men’s collection) that I’m thrilled about, so stay tuned at www.jessicadecarlo.com for the debuts!