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The Spirit of Charitable Giving Through Alana Leigh

I began 2013 with a spirit of optimism. After devoting a majority of 2012 to designing, building, and finally launching my new website—a feat that, after lots of hard work and dedication, felt unimaginably fulfilling— I am excited to spend this year watching it evolve to its full potential. That not only means offering fabulous new jewels to an ever-expanding network of incredible women, but also turning it into a digital home for inspiration, guidance and giving centered on my deepest belief: that every woman can change the world.

If you have ever read my blog post “The Beauty of Giving Back”, you know that a big part of my work involves charitable giving. In fact, starting today, I am featuring charities on my website that will receive 20% of the proceeds of the sales of selected jewels and treasures on my website. You will be able to select from one charity to support, through a dropdown menu at checkout. 

Right now, I am featuring three charities near and dear to my heart. Each one supports an amazing cause, and I would like to let you know a little bit more about them to help you in making your decision:

Raphael House
Established in San Francisco in 1971 as an emergency shelter for temporarily homeless women and children, the mission of Raphael House is “to help at-risk families achieve stable housing and financial independence while strengthening family bonds and personal dignity.” Through its Residential and AfterCare programs, Raphael House offers support and structure to families and children who have experienced temporary homelessness, as well as continued services to those who have moved into stable homes.

I have been deeply moved by the plight of the homeless and impoverished families assisted by Raphael House. Through the sale of my art, I feel blessed to have been able to support their work financially over many years.

San Francisco Child Abuse Prevention Center
The San Francisco Child Abuse Prevention Center (SFCAPC) offers children and family services and community education in order to support its mission, “the prevention of child abuse and neglect, the promotion of healthy families and the mental health of children.” In addition to its educational programs and services for parents, caregivers and children (including a 24/7 hotline for early interventions, referrals and support), SFCAPC partners with local organizations to further its impact and leads a city-wide effort to establish a Children’s Advocacy Center of San Francisco, which will provide a state-of-the-art facility for response, prevention, training and care.

I have been working with SFCAPC for many years now and have the seen the extraordinary assistance and support given to help children and their families live safer and happier lives.

Stemming from the award-winning documentary Miss Representation, which depicts the mainstream media as a culprit in the continued underrepresentation of women in influential positions in America, Miss is a non-profit social action campaign “established to shift people’s consciousness, inspire individual and community action, and ultimately transform culture so that everyone, regardless of gender, age or circumstance can fulfill his or her potential.” Through social media, education curriculum, community screenings of the film and the championing of positive media and advertising while confronting the challenge of negative media and advertising, Miss leads the growing movement of women’s empowerment in the 21st century.

I am honored to have been an Associate Producer of Jennifer Siebel Newsom's groundbreaking and deeply thought-provoking film Miss Representation, and I'm very excited to support her vision!

I am excited to implement this program with you. Together, we can make a difference!

With Love and Gratitute,


Image from left to right: Brooke Sevenau; Alana Leigh; Judy Domenici; Alicia Hvistendahl; Jo Howard; Jennifer Siebel Newsom

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My Holy Place

On my journey over the past decade, I have found a holy place, a sacred refuge where I feel closer to spirit, where it all begins to make sense, and I see that everything that's happened in my life has perfect meaning and reason. In this special spot some of the toughest struggles and memories all seem to rest in a peaceful realm of non-judgment.  Even the saddest of moments have a sweetness to them. It's as if I'm being lifted by a divine light and held in an overwhelming outpouring of love. This vortex for me is Villa Serena, my cherished home in the California wine country.

When I look out from the deck to the vista across the valley, I see the descending treetops and vineyards below Mount Tamalpais' prominent stature.  The array of crimson dazzles in the sky at the close of day. The delicate sounds of cascading water from the lion head fountain under the ancient oak tree evoke a sense of comfort. My body feels lighter and I instantly respond to the transcending calm of this safe and soulful retreat.  Magical colors ignite from the terra cotta rooftop, the okra leaves of the Chinese maples, and the deep blue green of the cool water lap pool that greets me at my door.  Here on the property of Villa Serena, my body is cleansed of any stress or discomfort that clings from city living. My mind is released from interference while tranquility breathes through me.  I feel expanded, vibrant, and refreshed.  More importantly, I feel like I am home.

Villa Serena was discovered after years of searching for just the right property. One that could be enjoyed by friends and family, and also as a vacation space to refresh the soul and unite with nature. Moved by my love affair with Italy and the rolling golden slopes of Tuscany, I longed to recreate that splendor here close to my residence in San Francisco. Stepping onto the threshold of Villa Serena for the first time, déjà vu instantly struck.  I had an overwhelming feeling of emotion, love and connection arise within me, and immediately my heart was captured by the extraordinary energy of this spiritual piece of land.

Many of my most provocative jewelry creations are crafted here. The creative flow is radiant, alive and empowering for me in this heavenly spot. The kaleidoscope of emerald greens, fiery golds, rich browns and turquoise provides a decadent color palette for my designs and, along with the transformative state created by the penetrating song of the large wind chime in the grand majestic oak, my art is most inspired.

This intoxicating, heightened sense of peace is what I seek to share with those who stay on the property. I rent Villa Serena to carefully selected visitors each year, and when I do, it is an invitation, partially, into my heart. As a traveler I have always appreciated the little details in luxurious hotels—the special products in the bathroom, the unique décor and attention to aesthetics, the subtle meaning in smallest of things—and so my guests are treated to the utmost hospitality: a special gift, a handwritten note, beautiful bedding and rooms adorned with antiques and treasures that have come from many of my world travels. It gives me great pleasure to fill their stays with the magic I feel here, as if angels grace the grounds and hold it sacred.

Villa Serena is my holy place, my refuge, a destination where I arrive with joy and leave with sadness lifted only by the prospect of seeing it again, like the anticipation that arises with the thought of reuniting with one’s soulmate.

If you too wish to experience the enchantment of Villa Serena, prepare to open into a doorway of heaven and mystical delight.

Images from left to right: Alana: The meadow at Villa Serena: The Chinese maples: A view of the valley: The dining solarium: A meditation space: The living room: A crimson sunset from the deck.
(See our link to book your stay!

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Travel and Creativity

I have great enthusiasm for traveling. I love wandering the globe, exploring different climates, architecture, fashion and lifestyles. I was born in Honolulu on the island of Oahu with adventure in my heart, and from an early age I loved to explore and seek out new and exciting places. Traveling to exotic lands and ancient cities has been a key influence in the execution of my designs. Each enchanting landscape into which I have ventured has become a part of me, magnified in my soul’s memory, and is transferred into the actual act of crafting each piece.  

Imbued with the heritage and culture from which it was inspired, an amplified energetic becomes the focal point expressed in each jewel-encrusted presentation.  Each treasure evokes a mystical story, a romantic journey, an historical era. Fiery sunsets over the Andaman Sea in Thailand, silky shades of green rolling hills on the Scottish Isle of Skye, the glistening rapture of azure blue and burnt orange in the temples of the Taj Mahal. There is a spiritual language that transcends time and speaks through my creations.  It mystifies and compels me.

Designing jewelry is the perfect union of my journeying abroad and then settling back in at my design studio in San Francisco. It is the process of the in breath and the out breath. When I travel, I am breathing in the world, absorbing the brilliance and glory of my surroundings, collecting invaluable experiences and priceless visual inspiration for my work. When I return home, I celebrate the out breath of exhilarated expression and heartfelt creation.  

It has taken me years to find the perfect balance, but now that I have, the creative flow is more powerful and profound than ever. Keep striving to find your own balance, your own magical, divine flow. It does exist, and is here for us all to tap into, relish and enjoy. 

Images from left to right: Alana in Venice, Italy; Alana with Mom and Dad in Honolulu; Alana in India; Alana in Kathmandu, Nepal; Alana on the Nile River in Luxor, Egypt; Alana in Lamu, Kenya.

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The Turning Point

I had just returned from an extended, spellbinding trip to the Holy Land of Jerusalem, the Nile River and great pyramids of Egypt, and a remote island off the Kenyan coast called Lamu, and was wearing a piece I had designed from treasures collected on my travels. I had combined antique Egyptian scarabs, an ancient sterling Nefertiti and King Tut, and coral prayer beads I found on a previous trip to Katmandu.  

As I was walking through Neiman Marcus in San Francisco, the manager of the jewelry department noticed my necklace. She stopped what she was doing and walked directly towards me to ask about it. When I explained that I had made it from collectables I’d discovered during my recent world travels, she looked me in the eye and told me that she wanted to place an order immediately. This one single moment sent my life in a whole new direction. 

That chance meeting in the mid-eighties transformed my passion into a fully successful business, with my jewelry collections being sold in over 400 boutiques and department stores nationwide and internationally. It was a sign that everything I had experienced during my entire life had been directing me to the very moment where I was doing exactly what I loved: creating my art and sharing it with the world. 

Since that day I have been exploring penetrating color stories, rich, mesmerizing textures, and dramatic historical periods, amplified by romance and magnificent fashion. I have combined and fused all of these elements into statements of elegant and regal bejeweled adornments. 

I can truly claim I live a blessed life, not because of what I own or how much money I have made, but because of how I have chosen to live. I have listened to the dreamer within and tried to make decisions from a place of optimism and gratitude, rather than from fear or lacking. I have always followed my heart’s intuition and guidance, and trusted that inner voice inside that said “Anything is possible if you can feel the dream”.  While on one of my trips to India, a wise sage gave me these words to live by: “Do what you love and you will find your way”.

My message to you is this, be true to your inner calling. By creating your dream, you live the joy and share the awakening, and through example you give back a great and noble gift to us all.

Images from left to right: Alana in her San Francisco Atelier; Alana on a return buying trip from Paris; Alana at a cafe in Cairo; Alana in Mombasa, Kenya; Alana at the great Giza pyramid in Egypt.

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Usually when I travel, I look forward to hunting for treasures. Sacred trinkets to remind me of the amazing places I've been. Often, this includes desirable antiques and enchanting charms that inspire my jewelry. But this past summer when my beloved husband Don (seventeen years together now!) and I went to Italy for an Alana Leigh business trip, it wasn’t just about the hunt. Instead, I was so overwhelmed by the magic of being there with the love of my life, relishing the splendor in each fairy tale glorious moment, that aside from my appointments, all I wanted to do was absorb my surroundings and surrender to the elevated state of being completely present to my inner spirit, to my husband, and to the beauty all around me, as if each moment might have been my last. 

This was a powerful, heartfelt experience to say the least, and the trip still lives on within me. As the memories settle, what I have realized is how I became illuminated by the ecstatic  colors of Italy. The penetrating warmth of crimson at sunset, the terra cotta hues of ancient villas , gold ochre and turquoise doorways, the accents of silvery sage cypress or the aquamarine of the Mediterranean, the worn, rich patina of old walls with layer upon layer of paint, in cities that speak countless stories of romance and history. All of these images come flooding back to me and energize and inspire my current creations. 

I've always been enamored with antiquities, and being in Italy so recently has re-awakened this passion. I've been experimenting with heavy gold regal embellishments, and exploring color combinations that evoke a fresh, sunshine-filled morning on my veranda in Portofino, with the boats and the twinkling, opalescent water below.

A passion of mine, aside from creating jewelry, is photography. The memories inside of me won't fade, but even if they do, I can always return to Italy right here in my heart and in these images I captured to share with you...

Images from left to right: Portofino, Italy; Lake Garda, Italy; Alana's inspired aquamarine Florentine stacking rings; Alana and husband Don on Lake Garda; Portofino, Italy; Alana's Mediterranian inspired pearl cluster enhancer.

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