“These pieces...they have purpose.” Elizabeth Potts’s love of jewelry started when she was a child growing up in New Mexico. She would fashion her own necklaces out of bits of Native American pottery shards and silver quartz found on her grandparents’ property, and her grandfather would tell her the history of what she had found as they sat around a campfire. That history is what calls to her, the idea that each piece of antique jewelry has a story, a life that is now entwined with your own. The Moonstoned, where Elizabeth sells her treasures, is a multi-platform brand connecting people to these heirlooms. We talked to her about stories, history, and her journey into motherhood with the arrival of her new baby, Henrietta Moon.
You curate The Moonstoned - an online collection of vintage estate and antique jewelry. We love how you describe these pieces on your site: Jewelry is an expression. It’s a feeling, a celebration. These items are tokens that spark a memory of something monumental, a moment in your life every time you wear it. How did you find your way into this work, and can you speak more about your journey with jewelry?
I grew up in a family that really relished story time around a campfire. We would all sit in a circle and listen to my Grandfather tell stories and weave tales endlessly, always gesturing with his large, rancher’s hands and painting pictures for us with his words. I was a history nerd for as long as I could remember, and growing up in the South West I was immersed in deep ritual and culture. I remember visiting a neighboring reservation, where I witnessed the Zuni way of craftsmanship in the way of Jewelry Making. It was so beautiful to watch...I was hooked. When I left school I enrolled in SilverSmithing and Jewelry making, eventually switching to working with Gold. As I was learning how to make these things with my hands, my appreciation for the way things were made in the past only grew. I started obsessively collecting Antique Jewelry, from fairs, pop-ups, trunk shows, Antique stores...anywhere I could find them. I would research whatever I brought home and then be able to tell a story of that piece as well. In a way, I feel like wearing heirlooms like this connects us to our ancestry.
You recently became a mama to the most wonderful baby, Henrietta Moon. How has motherhood been similar or different from your expectations?
I am sure every Mama feels this way but Henrietta truly is the most incredible being to ever touch down earthside (haha). She is SUCH a gift! Such a light! I never was one of those women who "needed" or sought out being a Mother, it was never in the forefront of my mind. So when Henri Moon was born, I was overwhelmed with the force of my love for her, it just exploded inside of me. I had no idea that I was going to love being her Mama this much. It’s a balancing act, between Business, Family, Self and Baby and I have had to come to terms with the fact that there is no way to ever get it right. It’s teaching me to soften, to lean into it especially when I want to resist or control it the most.
Via your Instagram - @themoonstoned - you’ve raised a large amount of money for different charities in support of Black Lives Matter. Can you tell us a little bit about that process and about what that movement means to you as a white woman?
I gave birth with a Midwife at home and it was the most beautiful, empowering experience. At the time I, like many of you, did not understand that this safety and choice was one of privilege because I am a White Woman. As soon as I started diving into more about Home Birth the facts started piling up, one right after another around the disparities for Black vs White birthers. Black Women are 3 times more likely to die or lose their child in labor and within the Birthing Community, only 3% are represented by Black people. I couldn’t imagine feeling that vulnerable, mistreated or dismissed during a time when you need to feel supported and loved. So, I found a community that was determined to change this by supporting Black Midwifery. In just a month, we have successfully paid for the tuition of three future Black Midwives and are currently raising for a fourth. As a White woman, it’s my responsibility and a deep honor to help pull the scales back to where they should have been all along, considering that Midwifery itself is deeply rooted in Black culture. it the most.
I would love it if you joined me, this is a cause that literally saves lives and will impact communities for far after you or I are gone. Follow @badassmotherbirther for more and look for the next fundraiser via @themoonstoned.
How do you Honor Mother Earth?
We recently left the Lower East Side in NYC to move full time upstate in the woods. Every day I walk outside with my bare feet in the grass. Every day I tip my head back to feel the sun. Every day I sit for a moment and watch the trees. We compost, we garden, we use as little as we can and think about it all when we do. After my daughter was born, we planted a baby willow tree with our umbilical cord so that we can watch them both grow tall and strong. In these ways I feel like I keep a heart-open communication with Mother Earth and listen best I can.
All images were taken by Ella’s husband at their home: @pottsypotts