Makers & Shakers: Stern Design Works

by Zeynep Kilik

We love the idea of making wearable sculptures and giving people the vehicle to wear their obsessions.

– Rebecca and Cameron Stern

Fox Diorama Necklace by Stern Design Works

Stern Design Works proves that not all statement pieces need to be over-powering; they truly embody an intersection between S.T.E.M. and fashion. Resembling tiny statues, these works of art are one-of-a-kind designs. The Fox Diorama Necklace featured above takes inspiration from exhibits from the American Museum of Natural History in NYC and the Field Museum in Chicago. They have many more diorama necklaces, including a custom necklaces you can design on their website. Here are some examples of personalized dioramas below and, if you like what you see, show them some love at our upcoming BUST Craftacular @ the World Maker Faire!

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If dioramas aren’t your thing Stern Design Works has many different pieces you can choose from. From specimen disks (using real pieces of saffron and dried flowers!) to 3-D printed ecosystem pods, it is clear that this designer duo has one of the most unique jewelry collections you will ever find. We reached out to SDW to find out some more about their process and projects.

How did you start?

Stern Design Works was founded 10 years ago at a design lab for experimenting with ideas, techniques, and materials to create wearable sculptures. 

Rebecca earned her BFA with Honors from The Pratt Institute in Jewelry. She started Pratt as a sculpture major but, after taking a couple of jewelry classes, she felt much more at home with her work.

Cameron came from a background in theatre. He attended Ithaca College where he studied technical theatre but left early to pursue a professional career on various touring and off-broadway productions.

When we first started, all of the initial collections were pulled directly from Rebecca’s BFA thesis from Pratt. As the years progressed their styles and aesthetic started to shape around a shared love of the dioramas in the Museum of Natural History here in New York. and a desire to create unique jewelry that serves as a vehicle for people to express themselves.

What is your design process?

Most ideas start as drawings and scribbles in an ever growing library of sketchbooks. We then decide what are the best tools to make the piece. Whether we use completely traditional techniques, or if we are going to 3D print the initial design to be cast into metal.

If a piece is 3D printed we will use either ZBrush or Fusion360 to bring the ideas to life, and then print the first draft on one of the Ultimakers in our 3D printer farm. We’ll then iterate the design as much as needed before having it cast traditionally into either sterling silver or brass.

When working with new developments in our specimen collection, it’s a much more improvisational process where we combine all of the natural and un-natural interiors as we develop new recipes for the disks and studs for each season.

How did you start using 3D printing for your pieces?

We built our first 3D printer from a kit and immediately realized the potential to improve both our design process and business. Being able to bridge traditional techniques with new technology was the perfect way to be able to experiment with new ideas and concepts, without having to carve out each iteration from wax.

We also are able to use our 3D printers to create miniatures that we paint to inhabit our tiny dioramas in lab glass.




Complex Squiggle Ring– $38.00

Purple Saffron Specimen Disc– $38.00


Make sure to join us on Saturday, September 23rd & Sunday September 24th, from 10:00 a.m – 6 p.m. for the BUST Craftacular @ World Maker Faire to see Stern Design Works in action, along with so many other amazing designers! This event is not to be missed so get your tickets here lovlies.


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Founded in 1993, BUST is the inclusive feminist lifestyle trailblazer offering a unique mix of humor, female-focused entertainment, uncensored personal stories, and candid reporting that tells the truth about women’s lives.

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