And while you’re probably reading this because you know me through my jewelry, I wanted to take this moment in February’s blog, this month of passion, to talk about something close to my heart. A reminder that not all passion stems from romance. 

Let me backup a minute: In December I started a new job. I’ve always been drawn to design and innovation – probably no surprise to you if you’ve seen my jewelry – and was thrilled to join the Technology Innovation Institute in Abu Dhabi. Luckily, my first major project was working with a talented cadre of people who were at an incredible new frontier in car racing – autonomous racing, to be precise. No human drivers are in the actual vehicle, but a team of immensely talented technicians and designers are behind every movement and decision. 

So we journeyed across the ocean to Las Vegas, where they were holding races for autonomous vehicles. We settled into this temporary home and every chilly morning, Danilo (my wonderful Italian colleague) would pick me up and we’d stop for coffee on the way to the track, discussing the world and life and cars.

For five days and nights we all worked and kinda lived together, and to my surprise, the team started to feel like family. We shared moments of exhilaration – the car whipping around the track, surpassing expectations. We bonded over moments of fear and disappointment – crashes (notice my face below), covid tests and the terrifying moment before the result appears (and the relief every time someone blurted out "negativo!").

We would watch the epic sunsets go down over the track, lighting the cars with an otherworldly pink-red glow that seemed to embody the feeling we all had: a feeling of light, of energy, of an almost visible connection to one another and the work we were doing.

And we ate (a lot of pizza), because that’s what makes a true family, right? On our night before the race, we devoured a giant homemade Italian meal around a table, filled with love, chatter and laughter — wondering together how things would go the next morning: RACE DAY

My whole career, I worked with ambition. I did the job, and I did it well. But I’ve never experienced the immensity of kinship like I did with this group. It filled me with energy and inspiration and yes, passion. Passion for the thrill of the new, passion to be surrounded by smart, compelling and kind people, passion to be a part of something that could change the world.

It all leaves me in awe. 

And it’s a domino effect: as I witnessed and participated in this life-changing event, I would notice a shape or movement that sparked the nascent idea for a piece of jewelry. Maybe a pendant that mirrored the smooth curves of the race car. Or a ring in golden hues that looked like a Las Vegas sunset. Or, how do I make a necklace that conveys the feeling of exhilaration?

This job, this team, reminded me that passion can exist in every part of life. That the heady thrill of finding something that awakens your heart and brain isn’t purely limited to romance. A reminder that love isn’t just chocolates and flowers and teddy bears – it is connection and energy and spirit that can materialize in any corner of your life.

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