Today we’re diving into the talented, magical mind of Cybil Pucan, Designer and Creator of one of our favorite handcrafted jewelry lines, Mason Grace Jewelry.
How did you get into jewelry design?
My parents had their own clothing line when I was growing up and I always loved watching my mom draw, cut, and sew her designs for hours on end. I was fascinated by the creative process and I wanted to be a part of it.
Despite my love for design, my mom warned me from following her path to spare me from the major workload of being a creative. So, after high school, I studied business at USC and found a corporate job. I always knew it wouldn’t be my forever job since I didn’t love it, but it was a start.
One day, I was strolling through a Farmer’s Market and I stopped at a Jewelry Designer’s stall. Looking through her pieces, I started envisioning the jewelry I would make, and I decided to try it for myself! I started with beads and wire wrapping and slowly began expanding my skills and expertise.
How did you go from designing as a hobby to full-time Jewelry Designer?
As I created more pieces, I was being encouraged by my girlfriends to sell them. Eventually, I found a skilled bench jeweler who could bring my more intricate and complex designs to life. I actually still work with him today – he’s an amazing craftsman (and he tolerates my crazy, out-of-the-box requests!)
For a while, I was designing and selling my jewelry on the side while still working in the corporate world. Then, when I was laid off, I took it as a sign from the Universe to release the fear and pursue what I loved. I dove straight into jewelry design full-time.
After a while, I took on another job to supplement my design income, but it didn’t take long for me to realize that once again I didn’t belong there. I gave that company my two weeks’ notice and signed up for a pop-up event in New York that took place one week after my last day. That was my commitment to myself – I had a fast-approaching deadline and I had to make it happen. Needless to say, it was the push I needed - I’ve never looked back since!
Where did the name Mason Grace come from?
It’s named after my son, Mason and my mother, Grace - the two greatest influences in my life.
How would you describe your design aesthetic?
Modern, ethereal, and at the same time edgy and antique-inspired.
How can you spot a Mason Grace ring?
More than anything, you’ll notice my obsessive attention to detail. Whether it’s milgrain, intricate hand-engraving, or just small bespoke touches that only the wearer will see.
How did you meet and partner up with Catherine?
A friend of mine, Lacee was working with Catherine and I loved what I saw – I thought Gem Breakfast was such a unique platform for independent artists and I was really drawn to Catherine herself. I loved that she supported and celebrated independent artists. So, I reached out to her (and this takes a lot for me because there’s always that fear of rejection!) to talk about partnering up.
We clicked right away, and I immediately started designing a special one-of-a-kind piece for her site. That first piece was a really big ring – gorgeous but higher priced. Soon after, I added a few smaller pieces to the collection – equally unique but lower priced. People snapped those up fast and soon that big original piece found its home also!
What I love most about Catherine is being able to bounce ideas off each other. I know the other designers would agree also - the collaboration really brings out the best in all of us!
The first-ever Mason Grace ring for Gem Breakfast - Valentina Salt & Pepper Cushion Cut Diamond Ring
What are your favorite stones and gold types to work with?
My preferences are always evolving. Rose gold used to be my favorite but now I’m going back to yellow gold, and dabbling in white gold and two-tone! It’s like when you’re putting an outfit together and deciding which shoes will complete the look you’re going for. Every different combination of gold vs stone tells a very unique story.
For my favorite stones, I love working with rustic diamonds (salt & pepper, rose cut, champagne diamonds, grey, heavily included diamonds) because they’re so unique and rich. There’s so much character in each stone and that's truly beautiful to me. Don’t get me wrong though – I won't turn away a beautiful flawless diamond either!
Up until recently, we’ve been conditioned to only like white diamonds and I love that our perception of beauty is evolving and expanding.
I also love moonstones – there’s something magical about them. They’re so glowy and they transform in different light – they have my heart.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Oftentimes I’ll be lying in bed ready for sleep and all of a sudden a download of visuals start coming into my head. I have a notebook next to my bed where I draw designs and write down ideas that come to me.
The visuals that come to my mind repeatedly are the ideas I know I need to bring to life.
Love that, so magical! What about when divine inspiration isn’t flowing?
For a lot of my designs, I’m just playing with color and shapes – seeing what would flow together and what feels unique and interesting.
Then I consider the little details – even in the simplest designs, I like to add some hand-engraving, texture, or a visual twist to make it feel special and unique. It’s a pretty organic process – I experiment and at some point, I can just feel it’s right.
Who do you work with to bring your designs to life?
I have a bench jeweler who’s been with me since the beginning. And I work with a craftsman who does beautiful hand-engraving - I use him for my special settings and one-of-a-kind pieces. He’s kind of an eccentric creative like me – I have to give him his time and space to work his magic and draw forth inspiration!
Supporting independent craftspeople is very important to me – it brings a real magic to every piece.
What’s it been like designing during this pandemic?
I’ve had to learn a lot of patience! The craftspeople I work with aren’t in their shops right now so I can only work on the design side of things. I can’t physically create the designs until things are up and running again.
So for now, I just have lots of designs in the queue ready to be created! One good thing about the extra time is it’s allowed me to be even more thoughtful about each design.
What’s your design process like for the one-of-a-kind rings you make for Gem Breakfast?
- I start with stone sourcing. I send a few stones that I love to Catherine (Gem Breakfast Founder) and I ask her which ones she’s drawn to. I want the designs and stones to work for her and her clientele.
- Then I start sketching some ideas with those stones and I chat with her about gold preference. Take the Vienna ring for example – that was set in white gold which I don’t make a lot of, but we both agreed it worked best with those stones. It turned out beautifully.
- After sketching out a few ideas, I let them sit for a few days and see which one I keep being drawn to.
- Then I send the sketch to my CAD Designer and he tries to make out what I’m trying to convey to him. Him: “Uhh what exactly is that swirly line?” Me: “Oh, you don’t know what that is?!” Laughs*
- I go back and forth with the CAD designer until we arrive at the best possible iteration of that design.
- Then we 3D print it, cast it, set the stone, and voila!
- If we’re doing hand-engraving, I work with one of my master setters to make that happen.
- I take pictures, send the ring to Catherine, and she lists it on the site!
What’s your favorite ring you’ve designed on your site and the GB site?
My favourite ring I’ve created for my own site was called Eloise and the original version sold a long time ago. I made another variation of that ring called Cosmia for the Gem Breakfast site that I love also.
Who’s the woman who loves your pieces?
Generally, they’re women who’re buying for themselves - independent, strong, stylish women. People who are confident in what they like, in their own individuality and uniqueness. They choose pieces that speak to who they are.
It’s really interesting when I do pop-up events because I get to see who loves my pieces in-person. Sometimes a woman picks up a ring and it’s almost like a Cinderella-found-her-shoe moment. They’re magnetically drawn to it, and it looks like it belongs on that person. It’s crazy but so fun to be a part of.
I noticed a lot of your rings are smaller scale and more accessibly priced. Is that intentional so people can more easily buy jewelry for themselves?
Truthfully, I just love daintier, smaller pieces but the fact that they’re more price-accessible is a great bonus too!
I love stacking smaller rings and combining pieces together to create different looks. At first, working with bigger stones and creating bigger pieces was a stretch but now I really enjoy it!
What jewelry do you wear on a daily basis?
I usually have three necklaces on – a mini cross, my monogrammed crest, and my deja vu necklace.
For earrings – I have 4 piercings and I don’t usually wear matching pairs - I like telling different stories with them. Usually, it’s a combination of studs and dangling earrings with some movement. And they always have stones in them because I love how they catch the light.
For rings, it’s always a different combination depending on my mood or the story I’m trying to create that day. Sometimes it's pieces that evoke a stronger energy - more solid and heavier pieces. And other times I choose daintier pieces that are stacked and layered and feel very feminine.
What’s your favorite part of the jewelry design process?
I love shopping for stones - I love shopping in general, truthfully! Certain stones will just speak to me and sometimes a design idea will form right there in my mind – that’s when I know I need that stone in my life!
How do you want women to feel when wearing your jewelry?
Beautiful, powerful, strong, confident, unique, and distinctively themselves.
Do you pay attention to trends in jewelry?
I look at what’s going on around me, but in the end, I just make what I love.
In jewelry, more is more. True or false?