Luna & Stella – moon and star in Italian – is all about celebrating relationships. “People are simply drawn to the idea of a product that symbolizes their relationships, their connections,” says Suzanne Ellis Wernevi, founder and creative force behind this wildly popular and successful line of contemporary birthstone jewelry.
She uses precious and semi-precious birthstones in her designs to represent the important people in one’s life. And the piece can evolve over time – you just add more birthstones to an existing piece for any of life’s big moments.
Luna & Stella has been featured on The Today Show and ABC News, and in US Weekly, Esquire, Real Simple, and Oprah, among others. “We were lucky to get a lot of early coverage of the brand,” she says.
Based in Providence, the family-run business was founded in 2009 with the goal of blending great jewelry design with thoughtful meaning. Her merchandising and product development roles at J.Crew, Bally, and Victoria’s Secret combined with her experience as the Vice President of Merchandising and Design at the online retailer RedEnvelope, gave Suzanne a solid entrepreneurial foundation.
Suzanne grew up in Massachusetts and she and her family spent every summer on Block Island. “I didn’t really know Providence – it was just a place to pass through on our way to the ferry.” But, having lived and worked in Switzerland, San Francisco and New York City, she and her husband chose Providence as their home four years ago. Living in New York City, pregnant with their first child as she and her husband were both starting new businesses, the couple decided they wanted to have a house and a yard. “And it wasn’t going to happen in NYC.” They started looking for a small city and “Providence just came up on the map. We took a leap.”
Sitting in that sought-after backyard, Suzanne wears a long simple necklace with three Luna & Stella charms hanging from it – a moon with her husband’s birthstone, a heart with her four-month-old daughter’s and a star with her three-year-old son’s. And a vintage locket. “I like the idea that people can mix our pieces with meaningful heirloom pieces that are in their family.
“Every day, I wear a ring of my grandmother’s and a ring of my husband’s grandmother that my mother-in-law gave me on our wedding day. I like having that connection and reminder of our shared history in the jewelry I wear.”
Suzanne is totally optimistic about the future of the business. “Rhode Island is just right in terms of design, manufacturing and business resources – from casting and plating to design and marketing.”
And she is tapping into Rhode Island’s jewelry manufacturing history. “I’m a bit of a history buff and I like the idea of bringing that history to the present.” Someday, she would like to manufacture the line herself – have a workshop. “And when I do, I want it to be in the Jewelry District.”