Betsy & Iya, the eponymous jewelry line of Portland, Oregon-based designer Betsy Cross, has always been marked by a certain sweetness and androgyny. Her pieces are sentimental, but working the metal by hand gives them a few rough edges that look appropriate on both men and women.
In June of 2011, Cross and her husband, Will Cevarich, opened a brick-and-mortar shop in downtown Portland. The light, airy space houses a well-curated selection of American-designed apparel and accessories. There’s also room for both an office and a studio, where Cross and her employees meticulously craft each of her designs, currently standing at 250 and counting.
Like most good things, the lease on the space came about a little serendipitously. “Will and I randomly drove past this place and saw the sign ‘For Lease,'” Cross said. “We thought, ‘Can we do this?’ One month later, we just took the plunge.” Cevarich built everything in the shop, from the rope installation to all the shelving, working until 4 am the night before it opened. “We seriously did not take a break until June of 2012.”
The shop’s success meant that Cross was able to hire employees, several of whom were on hand on a busy Friday afternoon when we stopped by the shop to take a look at Cross’s latest line, and the most popular one thus far. The Bridge collection consists of thirteen pieces, all strong lines based on the girders and trusses of bridges all over the country. Four brass cuffs are based on four iconic bridges that are close to Cross’s heart—Portland’s Fremont Bridge and St. Johns Bridge, the Brooklyn Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge.
The inspiration for the line came from an epic cross-country journey that Cross and Cevarich undertook in 2010, as well as from their daily journey on the St. Johns Bridge across the river that bisects Portland’s east and west sides. “A bridge connects people,” Cross said. “Also, the St. Johns Bridge is just beautiful. You wake up and the clouds are obscuring the top, and Forest Park in the background. There’s something mysterious and magical about it.”
The St. Johns brass cuff, like the others, is adjustable to fit most wrist sizes. The year it was built and its geographic coordinates are etched on the inside. To browse Betsy & Iya’s offerings, visit her online shop or Etsy page.