Episode 223 Part 2: How Gabriela Sierra Made the Jump from Packaging Design to Jewelry Design

Episode 223

What you’ll learn in this episode:

  • How Gabriela produces jewelry in Mexico, manages her business from Montreal, and sells her jewelry worldwide.
  • Gabriela’s favorite stone to work with, and how she chooses and sources gems for her colorful jewelry.
  • How moving from Mexico to Canada (and experiencing seasons for the first time) influenced Gabriela’s work.
  • What it means for jewelry to be slow made.
  • Why COVID prompted Gabriela to transition from packaging design to jewelry design, and how she overcame her hesitation to call herself a jewelry maker.

About Gabriela Sierra

Gaby, designer and creator of Gabriela Sierra jewelry, is anything but a minimalist. Unafraid of color, she plays with bold shapes, textures and asymmetry. Her meticulously crafted pieces are meant to be conversation starters.

With a background in Industrial Design followed by a variety of courses at Alchimia Contemporary Jewellery School, Gabriela Sierra merges design and fashion to create unique sculptural jewelry. The brand seeks to reflect the spirit of the slowmade process (quality over quantity). Founded in 2021, Gabriela Sierra is committed to good design by focusing on quality materials and the revaluation of craftsmanship.

Her work has been shown at different worldwide exhibitions:

  • “Todo es Diseño” Queretaro, Mexico 2021
  • “The Fab” Milano Jewelry Week 2022
  • “Cluster Contemporary Jewelry”, London 2022
  • “The Earring Show”, Vancouver, Canada 2023
  • “Earrings Galore 2023 – 2024”, United StatesAdditional Resources:
  • Website
  • Instagram
  • Facebook

Photos available on TheJewelryJourney.com


These earrings are one of my first creations, born from a clear vision of my

brand’s identity. I’m all about vibrant colors and playful asymmetry. They are

detachable and made with 9.50 silver and glass, reflecting my love for

unique design and versatility.

Photographer: Jesus Villanueva Varela @jesusvillanuevavarela


Detachable earrings crafted with 9.50 silver adorned with Jasper and golden

healing quartz. Each gemstone boasts its own unique personality, with

captivating patterns and colors. These earrings are not only a favorite of



Lollypops from our candy collection. These earrings are a sweet treat for

your ears, featuring detachable designs made with 9.50 silver adorned with

Amazonite and Glass. Channeling playful vibes and vibrant colors, they add

a pop of fun to any outfit.

“Glass Collection”

Glass Collection, where color, shape, and volume collide to create a

stunning explosion for the ears- Designed for the creative soul, these

earrings are meant to be mixed and matched with other pairs from the

collection, allowing you to create your own unique combinations.


Detachable earrings made with 9.50 silver and Obsidian and Glass.

Photographer: Jesus Villanueva Varela @jesusvillanuevavarela


Expertly combining bold colors and shapes in her jewelry, it’s clear that Gabriela Sierra has an eye for design. Beginning her career in furniture and packaging design, Gabriela made her lifelong dream of becoming a jewelry maker come true in 2021, when she opened Gabriela Sierra Jewelry. She joined the Jewelry Journey Podcast to talk about how her upbringing in Mexico and her current home in Montreal influence her work; why her business follows “slow made” principles; and how she became more confident about calling herself a jewelry designer. Read the episode transcript here.

Welcome to the Jewelry Journey, exploring the hidden world of art around you. Because every piece of art has a story, and jewelry is no exception.

Sharon: Hello, everyone. Welcome to the Jewelry Journey Podcast. This is the second part of a two-part episode. If you haven’t heard part one, please head to TheJewelryJourney.com.

Today, I’m talking with Gabriela Sierra of Gabriela Sierra Jewelry. Welcome back.

So, everything might not be handcrafted, but you have chosen those individual stones to go together or the kind of stone to work with. For instance, will you choose a faceted stone to work with? Could you have a combination of a faceted stone with a cabochon with a smooth curve?

Gabriela: Yes. I already have some designs before combining these different types of cuts. Yes, for sure. I’m not like, “I’m just going to work with cabochon and that’s it.” No. I think t I’m open to work with different kinds of cuts. I like to work with cuts that are not the traditional ones. I just create new cuts and new cuts, and then as I mentioned, I make an order with my suppliers to have a sample to see if it really works, because in my mind everything works perfectly. I need to see the real thing physically, here with me in my hands, to see if everything is okay.

Sharon: Do you go to the Tucson Show in Arizona to choose stones?

Gabriela: No, I haven’t had a chance to go. I see the videos and I see that all the jewelers I follow go there. I do wish to go there, but I just recently received my American visa. That was one of the reasons why I didn’t go to the Tucson Show. But I would love to have the opportunity to go. Maybe next year. For sure, I want to go. Next year it’s easier.

Here in Montreal there’s also a gem show, a smaller version. It was last year. I think it’s here every year. I went there last year, and it was very good. Of course, to a new person it’s just huge. There are a lot of suppliers from everywhere, from every part of the world, so I really wanted to go.

Sharon: How do you decide if it’s a good quality stone versus one that’s not as good? Is it just by eye, or do you look through a loupe?

Gabriela: I don’t have a lot of knowledge. I’m not trained to really recognize if a stone is a very good quality stone. I think I just need to love the stone and see that it’s without any breakage, it’s not with a hole or some kind of damage. I need to love the stone, and it needs to be a good cut in my opinion. I’m not an expert gemologist, so I cannot tell if it’s perfectly cut. I just need to see the stone and if it’s love at first sight. If I love the stone, it’s perfect.

Sharon: Does it have to fit a certain bezel or do you make the bezel to fit the stone? Most of your gems seem to be bezel set.

Gabriela: At the beginning, when I first chose the stones and then designed, yes, I based my design on the gemstone. I created the bezel around it. But after that, when I had a clear concept, I designed first and then chose the stone. When I order the stones, they need to be the size that I need because I cannot change the design. But yes, basically all my gemstones are with a bezel.

Sharon: Do you have a studio outside your home, or a place inside your apartment or home where you design your jewelry?

Gabriela: In Mexico, my studio is in my house in Querétaro. Querétaro is the city where I live. It’s in my house. The first floor is all my studio. Now Samantha is working there. But now here in Montréal, last year, last October, I found a place that rents a space for jewelers. I’m a resident there and I work from there. I have all the necessary things because it’s an atelier. The atelier is called Artéfact. A lot of jewelers from Montreal rent their space and work there to create their pieces.

Sharon: Can you go any time, or do you have to sign up for certain times?

Gabriela: No, because I’m a resident, I can go if I want to go. During the night I can go. Any time I want. They give classes there also, but it doesn’t matter if they are giving classes. I can go whenever I want.

In Montreal it’s a little bit different. It’s difficult to have a studio in your house or apartment. You need a permit because you’re working with gas, with fire, with chemicals. It’s different. In Mexico we don’t need permits to have a gas tank in our house. Here it’s a little bit different.

Sharon: Do you ever get nervous working with fire and chemicals? Does that make you nervous?

Gabriela: At the beginning, yes. Yes, of course. Because you’re working with gas, if you’re not careful enough, there could be an accident. Also, because my studio is in my house, I was worried at the beginning that I needed to be very careful because this is my house. My husband lives here. My stuff is here. So, yeah, I need to be careful. I was nervous at the beginning because I was working with fire. But you just need to follow the steps. That’s it. If you work carefully and follow the precautions, you are good.

Sharon: And you have a pet. Do they keep you company in the studio? Where do they keep you company?

Gabriela: Yes, I have a dog. Her name is Jude Right now, she is in Mexico, but I will bring her here very soon because I miss her so much. She was the one reminding me every day, “Hey, Gabi, it’s time to go home. I’m hungry. Let’s go home.” Home for her was the second floor of our house. I miss her so much. It’s more than love for me and for my husband.

Sharon: Does she comfort you? If you’re having a bad day with the stones, do you get comfort from her?

Gabriela: Yes. I don’t know what dogs have, but they know if you are feeling bad or you are sad or you are happy. They just know. She approaches every time I feel bad or sad, or I break a bezel or I break a gemstone. She knows. Also because I scream a lot and I’m saying bad words.

Sharon: I want to talk to you a little bit about starting the business, deciding to start the business and keeping it going. You’re newer in your making journey than some of the people I’ve talked to on the podcast. What made you decide that it was time to leave?

Gabriela: Well, COVID hit, and I think for many people, it was a time to reflect, and I reflected and reevaluated my path. That was the moment that I decided to quit my job as a packaging specialist. It was hard. A lot of people called me crazy because it was a very difficult time, but I was so sure. I don’t know what COVID had at that particular time but it gave me a signal or something that I wasn’t in the right place. That particular time was hard, but it gave me the strength to start my jewelry business and start to set up my studio.

During COVID, I took some classes to refresh the techniques that I had learned years before at Alchimia to start making jewelry. I learned a lot of techniques, but the years passed, and I needed a refresh. But it was hard. I’m not going to lie; it was really hard. Because I was new, I was scared. I was afraid of failure. In my mind, I was thinking, “Who is going to buy my jewelry? Who is going to like my jewelry? How will I pay all my bills.?” All those questions started to appear in my mind.

You asked me a question about how I introduce myself, and I told you that I felt comfortable to say I was a jewelry maker a year ago. I had a lot of insecurity. I wasn’t sure that I was a jewelry maker because I wasn’t prepared in a jewelry school. I didn’t have the proper school, I didn’t have a proper education for being a jeweler. It was tough at the beginning, but then my work started to get noticed, to get exposed, and I had the opportunity to be in different exhibitions. I think the trust grew from there, and I feel more and more comfortable calling myself a jewelry maker now.

Sharon: What is your distribution? How do people hear about you? Do people place orders at shows, or do you exhibit all over the world?

Gabriela: Mainly my clients buy the pieces from my webpage. I also have my pieces in some stores in Mexico City. Right now, I have some of my pieces in Vancouver in a gallery. For exhibitions, they could have been bought during the exhibitions, but the exhibition is just for a couple of days, and those exhibitions were one or two years ago. The other one was two years ago. The last one is actually right now. It’s Earrings Galore. The last place this exhibition was in was Mexico City, actually. Before that, Earrings Galore was in New York City at New York City Jewelry Week.

Sharon: You exhibited there. Do you have to go into galleries? Are you a salesperson? Are you the salesperson, or do you put the jewelry out and people can decide what they’re doing?

Gabriela: Well, I’m the one who gets all the customers’ messages and everything, but in the exhibitions, I cannot go to every single one of them, so I just send the pieces and there’s a person there in charge of showing the pieces and selling the pieces.

Sharon: Do you ever have to go to galleries and sell your stuff? You mentioned these stores in Mexico City that have your things. Did you have to show it yourself? Did they see your pieces and like them beforehand without knowing you? How did it work?

Gabriela: For example, that one in Mexico City, I couldn’t be there because I was here in Montreal. So, they could go to the exhibition and see my pieces there and try them on, see if they like them or not, but I couldn’t be there. I wish I could have, but I couldn’t. I want to go and attend different expositions or craft fairs. I want to start doing those, probably next year or at the end of this year.

Sharon: Who buys your jewelry? Who buys your earrings? Do men buy them for women? Do women buy them for themselves?

Gabriela: My main customers are from the U.S., actually. And most of my customers, the majority are women. A few of them are men. Actually, they are the ones who message me first through my Instagram account and ask me, “My wife really likes these earrings. She’s showing me these earrings, but I don’t know if she is going to wear them. Can you tell me if they are too big or too heavy? Can you show me pictures or a video wearing them?” Sometimes I can do that because if you message me through my Instagram account, I’m the one who answers every single message. Maybe I can take a little bit long to answer back, but for sure you will get an answer.

Sharon: You mentioned COVID. Did that affect taking classes? Were you doing it through Zoom? Did it affect your business? How did you do it?

Gabriela: During COVID, yeah. Mexico had a lot of restrictions, but during COVID, I went to my friend’s studio. She is an amazing jeweler also. She was giving classes to a small group of people. We were three people per class, with distance between each other. So, yes, we had the classes in person.

I basically didn’t sell during the first year of COVID because in that year I was still working in packaging. The second year of COVID, I was almost ready. My studio was almost ready. I just started to show my work on my Instagram account, but I had just 20 followers or something. It was just the beginning. I really can’t tell you if COVID affected me as a brand because I was just beginning.

Sharon: What kind of brand were you after? Give us some buzzwords about your brand. Are you high end? Are you for everyone? Tell us a little bit about your jewelry.

Gabriela: Yes, of course. As I mentioned, I really like bold colors and shapes. I love to work with asymmetry and statement pieces. I love when my clients tell me that someone stopped and asked her, “I love your earrings! Where did you buy them?” I love them to be conversation starters. The main focus or the reason that I wake up every morning to make these pieces is to make people smile just looking at my pieces. I love to play with color. Bold colors, bold shapes, big earrings.

Sharon: You consider your jewelry a conversation starter. Is the way that people hear about your earrings, let’s say, by word of mouth? Tell us a little bit about that.

Gabriela: At the beginning when I started, my first customers were people from my city in Querétaro because I started to pay for some announcements, just in my city or in Mexico City. I started first with friends and family, as a normal startup or business that just starts. Then the word spread a little bit. Then it was like, “My friend Blanca told me about you and I love her earrings. Can you show me your earrings?” At that particular time, I didn’t have a web page. I just had my Instagram account. So, with WhatsApp, I would send them some pictures of the pieces that I had at that particular moment, some videos of me wearing them. Also, if they wanted, because it was COVID still, I’d invite them to my studio to see the earrings in person.

Right now, because my journey started on Instagram, boutiques got in touch with me to ask for my pieces. Then the clients grew because I had pieces in Mexico City or in Guadalajara. Then I started to learn about a little bit of marketing, making advertisements on Instagram or Facebook to show my pieces to markets out there in the United States and Europe and Japan. It was amazing for me to see how Instagram helped me grow my business, to show my pieces in Japan or New Zealand or Europe. For me, it was amazing because I didn’t think my pieces would go there and people from there were going to like my pieces.

Sharon: I could see how that would be exciting. Well, we wish you the best and that your business keeps going. Thank you very much.

Gabriela: Thank you so much, Sharon. Thank you so much for this opportunity and for your invitation. I really appreciate it.

We will have photos posted on the website. Please head to TheJewelryJourney.com to check them out.

Thank you again for listening. Please leave us a rating and review so we can help others start their own jewelry journey.

Sharon Berman