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Adam Shulman and Heidi Nahser Fink Make Beautiful Jewelry Together (and Confess that Anne Hathaway's Pretty Good With a Blowtorch)

11/07/2013 at 10:47 AM ET

James Banks Design Jewelry, WOCA necklaceCourtesy James Banks Design

Perhaps the only thing we like better than gorgeous, sparkly jewelry is gorgeous, sparkly jewelry that benefits a good cause. So we’re head-over-heels for this striking James Banks Design pendant, from which 100% of the proceeds will be donated to World of Children Award, a foundation dedicated to advancing work on behalf of children worldwide. Its launch coincides with the World of Children Award ceremony Thursday night, which honors people making strides in the world of child advocacy, and it was inspired by the WOCA logo, according to co-designers Adam Shulman and Heidi Nahser Fink. (If Shulman’s name rings a bell, he also designed Anne Hathaway‘s engagement ring, then gave it to her!)

Over two months, Nahser Fink and Shulman collaborated on a piece for WOCA that incorporated elements of the logo into an elegant, wearable piece, as well as one that their two-man shop (Shulman designs from N.Y.C., Nahser Fink creates by hand out of her Calif. studio) would be able to make to keep up with demand. From the first iteration (see below) to the current one, the process was quite involved.

“We wanted, when people wore it, for it to look like a piece on its own, but the closer you get, you say ‘What is that?’” Shulman tells PEOPLE. “It incorporates children, worlds. It looks like a flower blooming, but up closer it’s another thing. The concept of the key is, you put a key in and it unlocks. The key itself can’t work on its own, you need people — it’s a group effort. That’s what’s so beautiful about this organization, it’s not just one person.”

James Banks Designs Jewelry, WOCA necklaceCourtesy James Banks Design

The attention to detail in the key is typical of the work the two do together for James Banks Design. Each piece is painstakingly crafted and has tiny details (like butterfly wings that move, or meaningful custom jewels enclosed in glass) that are meant to start a conversation. “We want people to get close, to get a conversation from it,” Shulman says. “We want them to come up to it and ask ‘What is that?’ [Then you'd say] ‘It’s not just a ruby … it signifies my husband who was born this time of the year,’ or ‘He ignites my heart.’”

The idea for their first piece, the “Lightkeeper” (a charm shaped like a lightbulb with precious stones inside) came from Shulman’s wife Hathaway. “My wife said to me, ‘I feel like when I’m away, I lose my light, I don’t have the light in my life with me.’” he shares. So he created the lightkeeper concept with Nahser Fink, in which the wearer could choose the stones inside and add to them as they go. Says Nasher Fink, “It’s interactive, like our process; the wearer as well as the designer interacts with the piece. Everyone’s in the process together. The process of designing is an endless journey … It’s like a path, it tells a story.”

James Banks Designs Jewelry, WOCA necklaceCourtesy James Banks Design

The duo first met on the set of Hathaway’s Alice in Wonderland, for which Nahser Fink designed jewelry and props. After sending her a few ideas for Hathaway’s light pendant, “I said, Adam, you should be a jewelry designer!” Nahser Fink recalls — and their company was born. And despite their unconventional bicoastal approach, they work together perfectly. “He just got it. I just couldn’t believe how visual he could be with just words, while I had the pieces,” she says. “I never knew I would find someone to work with that would be so inspiring.”

So has Shulman tried his hand at the intricate metalworking Nahser Fink is so known for? “A little bit,” he says, then adds, “My wife — she was pretty good, wasn’t she?” Nahser Fink agrees, laughing: “She was manhandling that torch and using the wire, rolling it out. At one point, I was like, ‘Should I leave you alone in here?’”

While they love collaborating on personal pieces for clients on an intimate scale, they do dream of opening a store in the future. “I imagine that store on the corner of a street, in London or N.Y.C.,” Shulman says, “and the jewelry isn’t out, it’s tucked in these hidden drawers and boxes that open up and reveal other things. Heidi’s husband … would build all the cabinets, little cabinets of curiosity that we open up. It [would feel] like you’re in this magical little land and you don’t know what’s behind each door.”

In the meantime, you’ll have to explore their site on your own. See the pieces above (including a butterfly bangle, silver lightkeeper and rose bronze butterfly) at JamesBanksDesign.com, and be sure to check out their necklace for World of Children Award and learn more about the World of Children Award honorees here.

What do you think of their designs? Which is your favorite piece?

–Alex Apatoff

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