FHS alumna wins jewelry designer award

Submitted Photo Kathleen Sleigh is pictured above with her beloved dog, Jack Bauer. On the left are pieces from her capsule jewelry line that won the Mort Abelson New Designer of the Year Award.

Design, structure and beauty go into creating any notable piece of art. Whether it be a painting, a film, a photo or a building, these components shape the world around us. One such artist is Kathleen Sleigh, who has pursued her art, in various forms, throughout her life.

Sleigh, previously Privitera, is the daughter of Anthony and Sharon Privitera of Fredonia. She is a 1983 graduate of Fredonia High School and a 1987 graduate of Grove City College where she studied English and Communication Arts.

In 2009 Kathleen launched her own design business, aptly named Kathleen Sleigh Design LLC, in her current hometown of Winnetka, Il. There she worked with several Chicago North Shore clients on projects ranging from interior decoration to design consultation and sourcing for new home construction and home renovation.

It was in 2012 however, when Kathleen’s daughter, Lucy, turned 18, that the genesis of her true calling arose. Inspired by Richard Rohr’s writings about walking meditations using a “mirror medallion” to receive and reflect God’s love and beauty, she was moved to create a pendant for each of her daughters with a “mirror medallion” of their own, to remind them of how they are meant to see and be seen.

The desire to gift them with meaningful pieces of jewelry became the inspiration that led her to close her interior design business and channel her creativity into fine jewelry, eventually founding Darsana Jewelry in 2016 with the launch of her capsule collection in February of 2017.

On July 17 at the Jewelers of America New York Summer Show at Javits Center, a stylized bohemian collection of tiny reproduction antique mirrors set in 14K gold, with diamonds and an engraved “all-seeing eye”, beat out nine other new and promising artisans. Kathleen, six months after just launching Darsana, had taken home the Mort Abelson New Designer of the Year Award. The award is named after the former show director who came up with the idea for an emerging designers gallery over 40 years ago.

Self-taught at her craft, Kathleen hand draws each design and then oversees the production, from the goldsmiths to the lapidaries, both state-side and overseas, as the piece comes to fruition. Her collection is currently available online, at the upscale Chicago boutique Elements, Chalk in Glencoe, Il., the Malibu Colony Company in Malibu, Ca. and was recently picked up by the upscale establishment ABC Carpet & Home in New York City.

Currently Kathleen is working on her new collection which will feature necklaces, rings, earrings and bracelets made of 18K gold inlaid with various gemstones; she also has a trunk show taking place in Malibu, Ca. later this month.

Even though she remains quite busy with family and her designs, she dedicates time as well to helping the Selah Freedom organization where she is an active volunteer and advisory board member with their Chicago chapter. Selah Freedom is a national organization that works to combat sex trafficking and provides residential recovery for survivors; a portion of her jewelry revenues are given in support as well.

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