Wearing coveralls or a muddy apron, Kimberly Huestis ’05 mixes powdered rock and clay to create porcelain in her Cambridge, Mass., art studio, then hand-sculpts nautically inspired porcelain jewelry designed for sensitive skin.
Since starting her jewelry business, Porcelain and Stone, in 2012, she’s made pieces for celebrities, big brands, and private customers. For Madeleine Korbel Albright ’59, she made a mint-colored, gold-speckled brooch based on her best-selling uni necklace—uni means sea urchin in Japanese, and sea urchins are adaptive, tough, and well-traveled—which the former secretary of state received at a Washington Wellesley Club event. Anthropologie approached Kimberly to transform her uni design into the “Copley Knob,” a shabby-chic dresser pull. She’s also made carved rings for Free People, and her work has been featured in Vogue.
Kimberly, who’s Taiwanese and Scottish, enjoys working with porcelain for its cultural significance. Durable yet delicate, porcelain was first made in China in the Tang and Yuan dynasties. “It makes me feel connected to my mother’s side,” she says. It’s been called white gold, appears translucent, and is similar in strength to sapphire. “I felt like porcelain needed to be re-elevated.”
Her minimalist, timeless necklaces, bracelets, rings, and earrings are a combination of porcelain, stones like morganite, moonstone, and quartz, 22-karat gold, and nickel-free metals. She sets diamonds into porcelain, and makes barnacle-themed earrings, rings, and necklaces that mimic the heavy metal chains found in harbors.
Kimberly started making jewelry at age 8 in rural Vermont. Her pieces are still inspired by the beauty of the surrounding mountains and memories of skipping rocks with her older sisters at a local lake. “I was always very curious and inclined to play outside, to break open rocks to find a geode,” she says.
In high school, she continued making jewelry from leather and plastic after she developed a metal allergy, and she couldn’t wear most mass-produced jewelry. She studied ceramics and carved limestone into animal sculptures. “I’m a person who always has to be doing something with my hands,” she says. “I think with my hands, and they bring me a lot of peace and grounding when I create.”
At Wellesley, where she studied architecture and French culture, Kimberly experimented with hemp weaving, often trading her necklaces with other students. Architecture taught her how to edit a design. After graduation, she took an architecture job and continued making jewelry at night. She worried about pursuing her jewelry-making passion as a career. “I thought it might take the magic away,” she says.
Then, in 2012, she was working at a chocolate factory, in part as research for a food tech startup she and her husband collaborated on. The work was interesting, but jewelry-making still called to her. One night, her husband urged her to pursue it full-time. She gave notice and dug in, making more pieces, putting them on Etsy, and creating her own website, porcelainandstone.com.
Kimberly has taken ceramic chemistry classes to perfect her homemade porcelain formula, and she makes her own glaze recipes to color her pieces after sculpting them. Each piece takes up to a week to complete. She gravitates toward unique custom designs and bold statement pieces. She recently made a ring out of a diamond earring for a woman whose mother had died. She also created a crescent yoke necklace from porcelain and 22-karat gold for a Wellesley alum to give her partner when proposing at California’s Half Moon Bay.
“I really like it when people pick up a piece, and they say, ‘What is this?’” Kimberly says. “I like to make people question what they thought they knew.”