Creativity and art are born through passion, love, strife, sacrifice, and conviction. Ana Maria Andricain is the owner of the handcrafted jewelry store Jewel of Havana, but she wasn’t always a jeweler.
Her story begins a hop, skip, and a jump across the sea in Havana, Cuba where her grandparents found themselves sewing precious heirloom jewelry into their clothes, suitcases, and more in hopes they and these pieces would make it safely to America. It’s a story of chance, hope, and determination like theirs that would carry their granddaughter to greatness many years later.
When searching her earliest memories, she remembers growing up with music playing through the house, fueling a dream that she would be on Broadway. After watching a beautiful woman who looked a lot like her perform during a production of My Fair Lady at Aubin Lane Dinner Theatre at eight years old, she knew for sure that performing was what she wanted to do. She would later meet this same woman who became her voice teacher and mentor and who got her an audition to enroll in the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music.
After a tumultuous time getting her parents to agree it was a good idea, she was well on her way to making it to Broadway, but more specifically, going to New York City. She attributes much of her success to her parents, who gave her the tough love she needed to survive the often harsh and uncertain nature of her career while making her dreams come true, to which she offers parents of future art-centered adults some advice: Don’t make it easy on your child.
“If your kid is handed everything in life, they don’t know how to make it. The arts aren’t an easy career to get into if you don’t have a backbone or are scrappy,” warns Andricain. “When I talk to parents of young kids, I tell them not to give their kids everything, make them work for it. Teaching them how to save and plan was a great life lesson, and my parents were encouraging while telling me to work for it.”
She worked on Broadway for many years. There, she discovered her love of creating jewelry and often used her newfound skill on set. It became both a hobby and a side hustle as she continued performing, with her last show being Beauty and the Beast, where she starred as Belle.
Eventually, after marriage and fulfilling her dream, it came time to settle down, which meant relocating from New York back to Baton Rouge and letting go of her Broadway career. However, she was determined to continue to use her creativity, deciding to double down on the jewelry-making business. With that, Jewel of Havana was born, aptly named after her mother’s nickname and her grandparents’ origins. The love she poured into her business allowed her to find great success turning stories into jewelry.
Today, Andricain has plenty of collections inspired by her real-life experiences and by things she sees in nature, but one unique collection is the “Draped in Love Collection”. This collection was inspired by the friends, family, survivors, and medical staff who stood by her side and cared for her during her battle with breast cancer.
The story of these pieces begins on her vacation in Costa Rica, where she found herself studying and sketching the natural beauty of hundreds of waterfalls and rivers, creating wispy and wavy pen strokes. Upon returning, she and her husband had an accepted offer on a house but also received troubling news: she was diagnosed with stage one breast cancer. With no family history of breast cancer or even much of a sign that anything was wrong, it was shocking to say the least. However, sometimes terrible things can have beautiful results.
As she received treatment, she would gaze at the sheets that blanketed her, connecting the twists and folds of the fabric to the sketches she had made. With these thoughts in mind, she wanted to give back to the people who had loved and cared for her throughout this experience. The best way she knew how was to make jewelry telling their shared story while thanking her support system for literally and figuratively draping her in love. In an additional act of love, Andricain ensures that thirty percent of revenue from this collection goes to the new Our Lady of the Lake cancer center.
These days, her life is much calmer and simpler yet still enriching. She spends her time traveling to find the perfect materials for her work, making jewelry that tells a story for customers and their loved ones, and enjoying the company of her family.
If you would like to peruse Andricain’s collections and learn more about her story, visit jewelofhavana.com.