Jess Hannah J.Hannah Ceremony Jewelry
Jess Hannah J.Hannah Ceremony Jewelry

Q&A: Jess Hannah & Chelsea Nicholson on the Sustainable the Realreal X Ceremony Collection

Words by Jody Hume | 2.5.19
The traditional jewelry industry has long been ripe for a revamp. Enter Ceremony, the LA-based brand co-founded by Jess Hannah (also the designer behind J.Hannah fine jewelry) and Chelsea Nicholson. Ceremony’s elegantly minimal designs are timeless, but celebrate a modern vision of love in which everyone chooses for themselves when and how to wear jewelry in a way that’s personally meaningful. Crafted with 18K gold and ethically sourced, recycled stones, pieces from classic gold bands to pearl and diamond-accented rings are not just infinitely wearable, they’re also sustainable. Which is just one of the reasons we’re excited to announce the launch of our exclusive The RealReal x Ceremony collection.

Ceremony Jess Hannah Sustainable Diamond Engagement RingsCeremony 18K Diamond Calla Band | Ceremony 18K Diamond Sienna I Ring

Starting today, you can shop six TRR-only designs on the site and in our LA store, as well as a selection of pieces from the main Ceremony line. We’re also hosting an event to celebrate at our LA store, where you’ll be able to meet Jess in person and shop the collection (you can RSVP here). In the meantime, we caught up with the co-founders who shared the sustainable sourcing behind the collection, stories of couples who have proposed with their rings and how to care for your everyday jewelry.
 What was the inspiration behind the pieces created specially for this collaboration?
JH: The collaboration was sparked from the convergence of the values Ceremony and The RealReal share. We adapted our existing designs to feature a special selection of recycled gemstones and diamonds.
CN: The designs are inspired by our classic collection, paired with additional diamonds and gemstones not currently available on our site. All of the diamonds and gemstones are recycled with their own unique story and history, now repurposed to create these beautiful pieces.

Jess Hannah & Chelsea Nicholson Ceremony JewelryCeremony co-founders Jess Hannah and Chelsea Nicholson

All of the diamonds and other precious stones used to create Ceremony pieces are ethically sourced and recycled. Can you tell us more about that and your overall commitment to sustainability and transparency?
CN: Yes, all the pieces in this collaboration are recycled. Whenever possible, we use recycled stones for Ceremony rings since we find it to be the only truly sustainable option available. We see the terms “sustainable” and “ethical” tossed around often, without pause to define what they actually mean. So we are dedicated to continuously looking for sources that have the least harmful environmental impact, while also finding ways to give back to mining communities.

Ceremony Jess Hannah Sustainable Engagement RingsFrom left: The RealReal x Ceremony Exclusive 18K Alder II Diamond Band | Ceremony 18K Diamond Tansy RingThe RealReal x Ceremony Exclusive 18K Alder I Pavé BandCeremony 18K Anise Ring | Ceremony 18K Diamond Tansy RingThe RealReal x Ceremony Exclusive 18K Alder II Diamond Band

What are your favorite ring pairings?
JH: I love the Alder II with single diamond paired with the pavé Alder I.
How did you become interested in fine jewelry and what has your career path been like?
JH: I discovered my love for jewelry early on after inheriting a few of my grandmother’s vintage pieces. Elegant and exceptionally crafted, they held the charm of a different era, becoming pieces of constant inspiration.
I started down this path hand making jewelry, first in retired jewelers’ garages as an apprentice, then in my college apartment on my own. This informed my transition into design. My understanding of the construction of these pieces always predicates what I come up with in my collections. I’m very involved in the production of every piece from its inception to its delivery to our stores and customers.

Ceremony Jewelry Sustainable Diamond Engagement RingCeremony 18K Diamond Sienna I Ring

Where do you look for creative inspiration?
JH: I try to look for inspiration both in and outside of the jewelry world. In my free time I relish scrolling through furniture and jewelry on 1stDibs, Craigslist and The RealReal — this practice is a light obsession. I also find that museum collections, particularly modernist and ancient sculpture and art are rich sources of inspiration.  
What are some shifts in the ways people are buying and wearing jewelry, especially milestone jewelry, that you’re interested in or excited about?
CN: We often see couples begin ring shopping together, but the purchase will be made discreetly by one person who lets us know their plan for surprise. I love seeing this because it shows the value of decision making in the partnership, while the act of giving the ring remains romantic.
JH: I’m seeing a shift in style as well — we are getting a lot of people choosing more understated styles, pairing a band with a band for example or a simple solitaire with a super chunky thick band to balance it out.

Ceremony Jewelry Sustainable Diamond Engagement RingCeremony 18K Diamond Calla Band

Do you have any stories of proposals or other milestones celebrated with Ceremony rings that you can share?
JH: Two of my very close friends proposed to each other! They chose Ceremony rings together but after they made their choices they planned independent surprise proposals for each other. Instead of the traditional singular proposal, they each got to have a special moment and ring to represent that.
Any tips on caring for fine jewelry pieces that are meant to be worn every day?
CN: We’re all for everyday wear, but do recommend removing rings when doing anything that might scratch, abrade or damage the piece (anything high impact like gardening or contact sports). Regular upkeep is also important. To clean diamond pieces, simply fill a shallow container or teacup with hot water and a few drops of mild hand soap. Submerge the ring in the solution and let it sit for 15 minutes. Before removing, gently scrub with a soft bristled brush. Finish by rinsing with warm, running water and blotting dry with a cotton cloth. We recommend cleaning open-set diamonds (like our Tansy ring) two to three times a year.

Ceremony Jewelry Sustainable Engagement RingsThe RealReal x Ceremony Exclusive 18K Anise Ruby Ring | The RealReal x Ceremony Exclusive 18K Anise Sapphire Ring

If you could only wear one piece of jewelry forever, what would it be?
JH: Ha! Such a tough one for me. I’m such a fan of signets and pinky rings, I would go with the Peri Band or the super simple Alder II alone on my pinky.
What’s your Valentine’s Day dream date?
JH: A spa day!!
CN: A surprise trip somewhere new, where I don’t know where we’re going!
RSVP here to shop the collection and meet Jess in person at our LA event. Shop the collection online here

Honoring heritage brands and extending the lifecycle of luxury items.