Discover the latest feature on Elizabeth, our founder, in Drome magazine, showcasing our new men's engagement ring collection.
Article & Interview by Leah Wasilewski. Photo by Ernesto Roman
While puttering around Hudson, New York this past July, I was lucky enough to have met Elizabeth Kranz Potttts, the young and Queer artist-boss-mother-friend you always thought was too good to be true. Elizabeth is the owner of The Moonstoned, a shop that rests on Warren Street in the heart of Hudson, and boasts a collection of fifine jewelry ranging from antique and vintage pieces to Elizabeth’s own contemporary line. The Moonstoned is not just any other jewelry company. Apart from its success as a prolific business, The Moonstoned nurtures an extraordinarily loyal community, and a work environment that feels more like a supportive safe space than a business.
With a following that varies from long term clientele to fresh faces eagerly crossing states solely to meet the woman behind it all, Elizabeth transcends conventional and commercialized business endeavors. Elizabeth’s technical prowess, stemming from years of having worked as a jeweler in New Mexico, combined with her authenticity, creates the ideal combination for success. This is exactly what makes The Moonstoned stand apart, and its success has only just begun. Elizabeth believes in the ethical sourcing of materials, such as the antique and vintage diamonds and stones she utilizes in her contemporary pieces. Her new line of Men’s Engagement rings exemplififies Elizabeth’s ability to see The Moonstoned as a business beyond stereotypes, and something she can infuse her passion and advocacy in.
The Moonstoned’s Men’s Engagement ring line is sure to create a long-lasting impact on the LGBTQ+ community, jewelry industry, and beyond. Elizabeth’s desire to reach every person through jewelry is evident, as is her supreme dedication to community and ethics before conventional business modalities. The Moonstoned’s commitment to fostering opportunities for communication and connection will only continue to thrive. When I first heard of the Men’s Engagement line, the first thing that came to mind was, “Why has nobody done this before?”
Why do you think that no other jewelry companies have launched a line of male engagement rings before? Why do larger corporate mainstream brands stick to conventional and traditional roots when it comes to engagement/ marriage, even if the brand promotes itself as supportive of the LGBTQ+ community?
Elizabeth Kranz Potts
It’s the same fight that we are fighting every day, the one to not just be accepted but SEEN in our love, when it is at its most brilliant. Corporate brands are run by Corporate brains and will always chase the “sure dollar,” the one that comes with classic hetero-romantic scenes of a trending icy rock on a smiling, white, “beautiful” face because they know it works. They know it sells. It’s hard to put yourself out there and demand something new, especially in the LGBTQ+ community where Engagement rings are not only unrepresented, it’s intentionally kept into the dark. It’s one thing to say you’re supportive because you want Gay Money, but it’s another entirely to put that money where your mouth is and stand up for the ones who are spending it with you.
What are your thoughts on the importance of the “engagement ring”? How do you feel that rings symbolize commitment and trust between two people?
I think there is a little romance in all of us. The little one who wants to know we have been chosen and choose someone else; to feel special and loved and cherished. A ring symbolizes that commitment and desire to grow together, however I want to open a door to explore all the different ways commitment and love/partnership can exist. For example, the Open Ring is designed with one or more diamonds across from one another with a space in between. This is intended for two lovers who are powerfully independent of one another but still come together in a shared vision. Maybe they are non-monogamous and hold each other in the highest of places within their innermost intimate selves. Maybe they have to spend long times apart for work but know it’s all for the cause of a long life together. Maybe they are wholly committed in body and heart but engage in the practice of constantly becoming bigger, better versions of themselves, together.
The 5ct diamond band was designed as kind of a middle finger to the narrative that hetero men only buy hetero women giant rocks. I love when men buy other men extravagant jewelry. I love it when women buy themselves extravagant jewelry. The LGBTQ+ community is often looked over in luxury spaces and I just find that absolutely ridiculous. All of my gay male friends have more money than I do and that’s just the facts. Why shouldn’t they be wearing big rocks if they want to?
Why is the launch of this line so important now? How does the importance of this idea expand beyond the LGBTQ+ community, and speak to a larger issue of companies failing to evolve from their traditional framework both in jewelry design and in marketing?
When I first started talking about the gap in the engagement market that I felt for the Community, I received a lot of pushback on anything being “expensive”. There is much to remember in this; LGBTQ+ people are marginalized in every way and have fewer access to healthcare, jobs, support and there is much to be done to right this wrong. In creating a line of high-end jewelry tailored for the LGBTQ+ community, especially around love and commitment, I wanted to show up and let everyone know that we are HERE and proud of the way we love. Jewelry is my greatest form of expression and connection; it’s a tool to use as a signal for others in the community as well. Just as engagement rings are aspirational for Cis-Het couples getting married for the first time, I wanted to light a fire for the rest of us, too.
Larger companies are just kind of hoping that Queer folks will come spend our hard earned money with them. They want us to stay quiet and they keep still because they are afraid of losing their bread and butter by rocking the boat. But, I want to create a space that IS for Queer folks, and leads with that. The time is right now, as we continue to fight for equality and against erasure. Designing rings for Gay men is my first match strike in this fire and I can’t wait to see how it evolves for the rest of our community.
You are open on Instagram about your experience as a Queer woman, and you have amassed a following of very loyal supporters of your work. How did your personal experiences and upbringing influence the genesis of The Moonstoned?
It took me a long time to come out. I grew up in a small town in a Catholic family and experienced rejection very young for questioning my sexuality. I was in the closet all of my teenage years and well into adulthood, chasing intimacy with women in nightclubs and dark bars, always in the shadows.I had married exactly how I was supposed to as the people pleasing girl society had told me to be. When I gave birth to my daughter, something inside of me lit up. How could I raise this perfect being to be her whole, true self if I spent my entire life hiding who I was? This culminated with the world shutting down in COVID and through it, I stopped listening to the noise and found myself.
When I left my marriage and came out, I received quite a bit of backlash online and in my real life. I lost friends, I lost my home, I lost followers and buyers. But you know what? It also created this incredible rebirth...a shedding and rising of who I really am and what my work stands for. The people who have been with me from the beginning are a core part of that. They cheered me on. They let me be vulnerable. They had patience and love for me in moments when I didn’t have any compassion for myself. The Moonstoned is a place all its own where my inner child gets to play with the woman I am constantly becoming. I always hope that the people who come here to rest and create and dream for a while feel that for themselves, too.
What are ethical and progressive ways of jewelry designing and marketing to you?
Ethical design is very important to me. I use all reclaimed, post consumer stones and never new-mined. I will use lab grown if a client insists for a project but I’m very honest in my feelings about it. (For the record, they are NOT a more ethical choice don’t listen to The Man) I am actually terrible at marketing. I imagine myself living in this space under a rock with all of my shiny things, putting them together and sending them out into the world hoping that someone will love them. But then I remember that I have so much to say, there are so many people that I want to feel special and celebrated and fabulous and worthy and decked out in heirlooms that make them feel powerful and THAT I cannot do alone. So, I suppose my answer is that I am learning what marketing means to me and how to stay true while also reaching more people.
How did The Moonstoned start, and where do you see your art and brand going in the future? Is the Men’s Engagement Rings line just the start for the rebranding of The Moonstoned?
I started as a Silver & Gold smith in my home state of New Mexico. I’ve always loved working with my hands and was a huge history nerd; the way people have connected to jewelry and adornment since the beginning of time is very fascinating to me and a core value in my work. As I evolve, I see more people not just wanting to buy something because it’s visually pretty, but because they feel something.
They recognize something within themselves when they slide a ring on, clasp a necklace, secure an earring. I want to consistently find more ways to create more affordable jewelry while maintaining ethics and simultaneously creating jewelry with insanely valuable stones for those of us who want to splurge on something and say, “Fuck yeah. I deserve this.” The Men’s Engagement Line I see as a branch to our tree as opposed to a rebrand. Engagement Rings and celebrating Love, people, curiosity and living to the fullest has always been a part of us. The seed has been planted, now it’s time to watch this one grow and nurture it.
How do you manage to stay so centered as you navigate having a business, a contemporary line, traveling for Antique and Vintage pieces, and raising your kid?
You know, I am aware that people think I have it together. But the truth is, I am more often a woman on the verge than not [Laughs]. My life is so. Much. And I feel in a constant state of falling short of what I want to do, which is to excel at everything in business, love, motherhood, partnership, money, life. My saving grace is that I am forever pausing to say, “Wow. I love this.” “This” being, time spent with my daughter alone, without my phone and focusing on our relationship. Or it’s when I read an email or message from someone who has felt touched/understood by something I’ve shared. It’s when I make the time to have dinner with a friend or offer to come over and sit on the couch with wine. It’s when I know I can call my friends and lay bare my heart, my fury, my sadness and receive theirs with open arms in turn.
For me, it’s not about staying centered. I know it can be done and power to the people who can manage that state of grace consistently. No, for me it is about returning to the place of center. Sometimes for a brief second and sometimes for a longer pause. I often need areminder to find center and when I do, I feel recharged, loved and cherished.
If you can encapsulate The Men’s Engagement Ring line in one word, what would it be?