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Circa Design

by Kathryn Boughton

A deep appreciation of color and design inform the work of Gabrielle Vallarino of Millbrook, who in 2007 reinvented her life as a jewelry designer, launching her own collections, Circa Design and Brass Fusion.

In her collections, Vallarino seeks “to provide a unique jewelry experience” for her clients, offering a diverse collection of contemporary natural stone and brass designs. She elegantly combines rarely seen semi-precious stones and exotic pearls to create, necklaces, bracelets, cuff links, pendants, earrings and more.

“I created Circa Design in 2007, starting with stone necklaces,” she said. “I was one of the few designers making large pieces. Then I wanted to do something different, so I added Brass Fusion, which integrates the natural formations of stones, pearls, mixed shapes and textures with hand-cast brass and gold vermeil. I made casts of stones and created pieces, sometimes adding natural stones and sometimes just using the stone shapes.”

Pearls entered the picture. “Pearls are my painter’s palette,” she averred. “There are all different types of pearls today--they can even use molds to form pearls. I use either natural, baroque or cornflake pearls, which look like clamshells. I have cast the cornflake pearls in three different sizes that I can intermingle with the pearls. It’s still a classic look, but it gives them a dash. It’s a very rich looking necklace.”

When she started her brass line, gold was at its peak and “it was a good time to create a look that was complete and substantial without the customer having to spend thousands for a piece,” she said. “I hit an audience that wanted to wear different things.”

Each necklace is individually designed and one of a limited edition.

Vallarino was first involved with jewelry when she got out of college, where she studied graphic design and painting. She joined her father, George Leon Massab of Massab Brothers, a dealer in antique estate jewelry, and was soon designing her pieces based on classic designs. She married and broke off her career while her family was growing but, with her children raised, she started to contemplate a return to the business world.

“I was thinking about writing a book, but jewelry and color was always something I was good at,” she said. “And I enjoy people. I wanted to do something that involved people. A friend said, ‘Why not go back into design?’”

She started small, attending shows and selling a limited selection of works. “Then I got really involved and had three showrooms (across the country) and I had to create an entire line for the showrooms. They want suites of different pieces. That’s what pulled me into creating a collection.”

Her new designs are more contemporary, “more accommodating for career women,” she said."Through colors I enable them to express themselves. These are things are not faddish—these things can accommodate a tee-shirt or a ball gown.”

“I keep creating, keep finding more shapes,” she said. “There is nothing delicate about these pieces, but now I am starting to make smaller pieces.”

She confesses, however, that she does not know where her creativity will take her next. “My next step—I’m not quite sure. I feel I can go farther with this idea.”

She currently works from her studio at 66 Route 343 in Millbrook NY where visitors can visit, although she says it is a good idea to call 845-797-4977 or send an e-mail to if planning to stop by to ensure that she will be there. Her work can be purchased at her studio, online at the link below and through stores.