It started with a bouquet of red roses on Valentine’s Day two years ago. Gina Caramadre wanted to preserve the flowers from her boyfriend – her “true love” – in a meaningful way, not just pressed and framed or stowed inside an album. After much research, plus lots of rolling, sealing, and stringing, she transformed the plucked petals into a 108-bead mala necklace.
“Mala is a symbol of peace, used as a tool to meditate and ground the mind, encouraging healing,” explains Caramadre, who describes the necklace also as a symbol of her relationship, which she defines as grounded in peace and “divinely eternal” – the very essence of what is now her jewelry business.
Caramadre, while a project manager for Alex and Ani, had no formal training as a jeweler before starting Eternal in October of 2018, but she was both passionate and determined; she learned the right wire and strings to use, the different components like beads and clasps, and taught herself how to crimp, knot, and source materials.
“It seems I can preserve any flower that has a substantial petal,” Caramadre says, listing gerbera daisies, magnolias, peonies, and carnations as examples. Then, the magic happens. Through a chemical process, she breaks the petals down and waits for them to curate into flower clay, a process that takes several weeks. That clay is then rolled into beads, sealed, and strung onto wire.
While the operation is small, Caramadre’s dreams are big. She’s looking into elevated materials, such as sterling silver and 14 karat gold, and partnering with local florists, wedding venues, celebration planners, and funeral parlors. “I want to continue telling people’s stories and sharing these special moments in time,” she says. “This craft has been the most beautiful way to connect with humanity, and my hope is to keep connecting.”