Best Jewelry Designer Who's Making Housewares

Leah Ball

Critics' Picks

I must start with a disclosure: Leah Ball is a neighbor and a friend. But it took me a while to realize what a powerhouse she is, because she's about as modest as she is talented. And she's megatalented. Her work has been featured in trend-setting magazines like Nylon and Creem, her jewelry has been sported by artists such as Alyson Fox and Bat for Lashes' Natasha Khan, and her line has been carried by major retailers including Free People and Urban Outfitters. She also sells at boutiques like Penelope's and Eskell locally, as well as ones in New York and her native Austin. And she started her business only a couple of years ago. A graphic designer by trade, Ball discovered she's most creative if the medium requires her hands to get dirty. Last fall she launched her first housewares collection, called Strata in reference to the layered marbled porcelain pieces she makes. Her designs are organic and geometric, delicate but not prissy, detailed but not fussy. Jewelry prices range from $40 to $240, and housewares from $35 to $500. I'm a big fan of her hanging planters, which are guaranteed to bring contemporary charm to any space.