Made In Rhode Island: Tuleste's Starry, Statement-Making Gems

After years of sourcing vintage and lending to designers for inspiration, sisters Celeste and Satu Greenberg set out to design their own jewelry collection in 2007, and did so the way most designers do — by outsourcing the production to China.
So, when the president of the Accessories Council approached the sisters with a 'Made in the U.S.A.' initiative and challenged them to create a couple pieces locally, they were intrigued. Armed with a list of Rhode Island manufacturers, Celeste and Satu accepted the challenge and successfully produced about 30% of the Tuleste Fall '12 collection locally. The Greenberg sisters had been converted, and by fall '13, 100% of the Tuleste collection was being produced in Rhode Island.
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So, besides the fact that every Tuleste piece is just plain rad, it's also made in the U.S.A., in environmentally friendly facilities. Pretty cool, right? We obviously thought so and couldn't wait to sit down with the Celeste and Satu Greenberg to get the inside scoop on their Rhode Island jewelry-making adventures.
Click through to get the story, and don't forget to check out our Tuleste boutique of star-studded baubles (including a couple R29 exclusives!) — you won't want to ring in the Fourth without them.
Photo: Courtesy of Tuleste
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“This is our secret scouring haven in Providence. It’s an old warehouse with three huge floors of all kinds of beads, metal chains, and charms. We don’t end up using the actual pieces we find there since we produce all of our own materials, but we love spending hours there, trolling around for inspiration."

“The photo on the left shows some great wooden safari animals we found the last time we were there. We might use them as templates for beads.”
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"This is our crew at 1st Casting in Providence. They're our main manufacturers, so every one of our pieces starts and ends here, with a few stops in between for enameling and plating. It's a family-run business, and we're here up to 10 days each month, so we've gotten really close with all of them.

"That's us on the right — all dressed up in the factory!"
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"That's Jerry Trafficante, the owner of 1st Casting. He's showing us a revision of one of our necklaces that he worked on. Looks good on him, don't you think?"
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“Both of these photos were taken at the plater — where our pieces get plated in 14k gold, rose gold, or silver. They have all kinds of cool vintage signs that feel really authentic to Rhode Island.

“That’s Celeste’s self-portrait on the right — we thought her white shoes looked so cool against that green rubber lattice. It’s an eco-friendly building (like all of our facilities), so nothing toxic was being drained! OSHA regulations became really strict in the ‘70s and ‘80s, so that’s why a lot of these types of facilities closed down and sold their equipment to China. Luckily, this one has remained open.”
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"The photo at the left shows some of our heart chokers before they've been plated and enameled. They're part of our fall/winter '13 collection and will be on sale by the end of July. The hammered stars on the right have already been plated in silver and just need to be assembled."
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"These chains have just been plated in 14k gold. We also add a clear lacquer to protect the metal and keep it shiny."
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"Crock pots aren't just for soup! In fact, we use them for polishing and cleaning our pieces. The photo on the left shows a machine used in the plating process — both really glamorous shots."
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"We use all kinds of wax molds to create our pieces — those are them on the left. On the right, those syringes are not what you think! We actually use those tiny needles to fill our pieces with enamel. Everything is very handmade...we like it that way."
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"And this is our distribution center — can't you tell? The owner had a private boxing ring installed and has a trainer come in a couple times a week. Biggie is always playing in the background."
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