Accessorizing her studies

Harvard doctoral student Sherry Libedinsky is getting attention for her jewelry. Harvard doctoral student Sherry Libedinsky is getting attention for her jewelry. (Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff)
By Johnny Diaz
Globe Staff / March 19, 2009
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By day, Sherry Libedinsky immerses herself in the world of biology, studying how cells form and grow.

At night and on weekends, the Harvard University doctoral student escapes the scientific world for one that uses a different kind of creativity. In a corner of her Cambridge bedroom, she takes discarded vintage pieces that she finds online or at yard sales and creates necklaces, broaches, earrings, and bracelets with various gem stones inspired by old-fashioned designs.

For the past three years, Libedinsky has created a line of jewelry she calls Pequitobun, named after her 3-pound, black, floppy-eared rabbit.

She has a steady client base of women and boutique owners who want to buy the one-of-a-kind handmade jewelry that Libedinsky says she creates for fun.

"It became a creative outlet for me after a while," said Libedinsky, 27.

Her work space is her bedroom: Plastic drawers and boxes spill over with broken trinkets, beads, and charms she has found through vendors and sidewalk sales. Several pliers sit on the top of her desk, which offers a view of a Harvard library. "It's a really relaxing thing for me. If I got frustrated with school and stuff, I needed to complete something, I worked on the jewelry."

Libedinsky began producing her jewelry at 22 as a graduate student at Harvard. When her sister, who is eight years younger, visited her for a few days, Libedinsky thought they could bond by making jewelry. She hasn't stopped since.

She takes these old pieces or adornments and adds a stone such as Pervuian opal, champagne citrine, or pearls to make a new piece. She has made several hundred.

Libedinsky launched a website using her brand's name and began e-mailing fashion bloggers about her work. Gradually, her jewelry began appearing in magazines such as Glamour, Brides, and Life & Style, and the orders began to trickle in.

Cog & Pearl, a jewelry store in Brooklyn, N.Y., also sells Libedinsky's pieces.

"I like how she takes vintage pieces and creates something fresh," said co-owner Kristin Overson, in an e-mail. "I also like the delicacy and romanticism of her jewelry designs - yet they are lighthearted as well."

Libedinsky packages and ships her pieces from her apartment. She also sells them at the Design Hive, a regular street market for independent designers held the first Sunday of each month in Cambridge.

"If I am inspired, I can make several pieces in an afternoon. I am proud of the fact that I can use my hands and eye," added Libedinsky, whose prices range from just $25 to $750 for pieces with more precious gemstones.

Would the biologist ever evolve into a full-time designer?

"I love science and I think science is a lot more creative in finding ways to solve a problem," she says. "I hope that I don't really need to choose. I hope I can keep it like a niche business where I have customers that keep coming back and enjoy what I make."

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