When her love of horses took shape in gold and diamond jewelry, Lesley Rand Bennett's business was off and running.
Lesley Rand Bennett has been making jewelry all of her adult life. She started as an apprentice in Northern California, and over her career she’s made all types of fine jewelry. But it was a move to Arizona and getting a horse of her own that led Bennett to embrace her equine passion — which is so strong she even married her husband on horseback — and equestrian-themed jewelry.
Living in the Valley of the Sun, home of the most prestigious Arabian breeding farms and most memorable horse sales, Bennett wondered if horse people would like a gold Arabian horse on a necklace. With the encouragement of her husband, she crafted three pieces, her first equestrian-themed effort, and took the jewelry to the Scottsdale Arabian horse show. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive, and the pieces sold quickly.
So began Bennett’s journey of making a name for herself in the equestrian jewelry world.
Today, equestrian jewelry is the only type of jewelry Bennett creates at the company she founded and owns, Bennett Fine Jewelry and Sculpture. From her studio in Scottsdale — and online and at major equestrian events — she offers a wide range of beautiful original pieces. From horseshoe wedding sets to one-of-a-kind necklaces, pendants, bracelets, belt buckles, rings, and more, featuring stirrups, horse breeds, a variety of horse disciplines from dressage to racing, they are all lifestyle pieces for horse lovers.
“Somebody told me the other day that three generations of horse people are wearing my jewelry, and it’s become the kind of thing that’s passed down,” says Bennett, who chooses to work in gold and diamonds for the materials’ quality and longevity. “They just get better with age. They stand the test of time and will always be there. I think people gravitate toward that quality and seek me out for it.”
It’s the emotional connection between humans and horses that Bennett believes makes her pieces such a draw. And it’s what keeps her creative juices flowing.
“We have horses here in the barn on the property. I can’t imagine my life without having horses in my backyard,” she says. “There’s something about the emotional connection with the horse. We have dogs. We have cats. We have a goat. But there is nothing like the connection with a horse. There’s just something about it. I can’t describe the emotion, but I think the majority of horse people share that. If they stay in the horse industry for more than the five years, it’s because they feel that connection, too.”
Bennett brings that emotion to each of her pieces, no matter their size, but she especially loves crafting belt buckles and bracelets, because she can use the extended space to tell a story in each work of art. “I try to get that feeling into every piece,” she says.
Lately, she’s been drawn to depicting more Western scenes in her work. “Those epic scenes of the West give you chills because of the bravery, the amazing endurance these people had. I want to honor that.”
Her artistic desire to tell the stories of the horse and the West prompted Bennett to begin sculpting around three years ago. Now she’s bringing clay to life for more bronze statues — particularly of Western scenes like the cattle drives and the sport of reining — taking her time because “it takes the time it takes." Today, in her living room, Bennett is working on a life-size sculpture of a horse. “Who needs a living room, anyway?” she says laughing.
As an artist and woman entrepreneur, Bennett’s an example to other horsewomen out there who want to give their all to their passions. Among them are her daughter and business partner, Veeja, who does all the product photography and has created the website for the business.
Her own example is Joan of Arc. The young 15th-century French heroine inspires her so much that Bennett even has created a line of jewelry depicting the symbolic historical figure riding high atop her sturdy palfrey.
“I’ve learned that fortune favors the bold,” Bennett says. “The defender of the French nation Joan of Arc is my muse. I think about her fearlessness and her saying, ‘I’m not afraid. I was born to do this.’”
The French saint’s motto might well be Bennett’s own: “Go forward bravely. Fear nothing.” And do so on horseback.
For more information, visit bennettfinejewelry.com.