A snazzy and uniquely jazzy piece of Chicago's jewelry scene is headed to the Academy Awards, specifically the ultimate goody bag.
Jan Lewis Designs bangles, a colorful collection of Fair Trade bracelets, will be included in this year's "Everybody Wins at the Oscars Nominee Bag."
"I didn't think it was real," Lewis said about receiving an email asking her if she wanted her bangles included in the Oscar gift bag. "I was very surprised and when I inquired further and saw it was real I was absolutely thrilled. I'm very new on the scene."
While she's new on the jewelry selling scene, she isn't new on the creative side. Two decades ago, while touring with her husband, jazz musician Ramsey Lewis, Jan Lewis painted the bangles in hotel rooms while her husband performed. A former School of the Art Institute student, Jan Lewis said she wasn't a trained painter but was intrigued by shapes and patterns. The bangles' distinctive dot design was born.
"One dot led to another and I ended up with about 50 different and unique designes," she said. She tried to get them reproduced in the early 1990s but wasn't able to because they are so detailed.
Two years ago, she tried again, this time partnering with the Fair Trade Forum in India to guarantee the artisans receive fair compensation, clean working conditions and access to health care. It's jewelry that looks good that you can feel good about.
"They're beautiful artisans who have done a beautiful job," Jan Lewis said.
Jan and Ramsey Lewis have been married for 22 years. For those who didn't make the list of Oscar nominees, Jan Lewis Designs bangles can be found locally at Chiaroscuro in Water Tower Place.
"I'm probably working harder than ever but I'm just having a great time," she said. "I'm absolutely amazed how it came about. I guess it's all positive thinking."