Per Diem is a series that profiles interesting people's everyday jewelry and the stories behind it. Leslie Stephensis the creator of the Morning Person newsletter, a graduate student, advocate for healthier boundaries with social media and tech, and freelance writer.
"I was born in Los Angeles, but moved to Reno, Nevada in middle school which was a complete culture shock, but also immediately felt more like home than L.A. ever did. I fell in love with all the activities I never had access to in a city, like trail running, backpacking, and skiing in the Sierras. After attending college in Boston, I lived in New York and L.A., but two years ago, my husband Jonah and I moved to Portland, Oregon which feels like the perfect combination of city and nature. Our neighborhood is full of amazing bars and restaurants, but I'm still able to hike or paddle board most days!"
"I thought I wanted to be a cookbook editor, so I attended the Columbia Publishing Course in New York after college. When I began interviewing with traditional publishing houses, I quickly found that the energy around online media was so much more exciting and full of possibility. I joined the editorial team at Food52 in 2014 which I owe so much of my voice and career to. After two years, I moved to Los Angeles to take an editorial position at the lifestyle blog Cupcakes and Cashmere. I spent five years there, working on nearly every element of the brand. It was an enormous growth opportunity for me that I'll always value, but working inside of a lifestyle brand also opened my eyes to the negative impacts of social media on mental health and directly informed what I do now."
"Last fall, I made a major career pivot and began a Master's in Professional Mental Health Counseling from Lewis and Clark, specializing in social media and tech addictions. I also created the newsletterMorning Person, which quickly became one of Substack's top paid culture newsletters. It's packed with obsessively-curated recommendations, ideas, and essays, around living an intentional and well-entertained life (basically the newsletter I always wanted in my inbox)."
"I've always loved jewelry and am drawn to simple pieces with natural imperfections, a sensibility that's evolved from the first piece of jewelry I ever fell in love with: a necklace with a small blue scarab encased in plastic that I lost on the playground as a kid. The first fine piece of jewelry I ever wore regularly was a delicate gold disc necklace by Victoria Cunningham my mom gave me for Christmas when I was sixteen. I've worn it everyday since."
"I wear most of the pieces I own daily, which I've been slowly accumulating over the past twenty years. Each one is imbued with meaning. Most of my rings were gifts from my now-husband, Jonah. On my right hand, I wear a small diamond he gave me for our first year together, a moonstone ring from Voiage in L.A., which was a 25th birthday present. I stack them with a small diamond band from Cupcakes and Cashmere, and always wear my Fewer Finer Fig Leaf Ring on my pinky which represents my transition into my career as a counselor. My engagement ring was designed by Tura Sugden, a talented designer from San Francisco who used discards from the diamond instrust and old-world techniques. For my wedding band, she created a custom band with six interspersed diamonds that look like stars. Inside, she embedded a small, hidden emerald as an homage to my grandmother."
"I also wear a welded gold band from Catbird, which is a friendship bracelet with my friend Betsy, and a gold band from Soko. For earrings, I often wear a pair Jonah gave me for our first wedding anniversary, designed by WWAKE from Una in Portland. I have a small gold lightning bolt in my second piercing I got on my friend's 30th birthday. If I'm feeling really fancy, I might layer a few additional necklaces but I have a "less is more" approach to jewelry to allow the daintiest pieces space to shine."
"I've only ever purchased one piece of jewelry for myself! Instead of buying a wedding dress, I bought a cheap white bridesmaid's dress and purchased a pair of Gabriella Kiss earrings. I saw them and returned to visit them several times before buying them—they're Herkimer diamonds and feature small gold ants. I was instantly drawn to their imperfections, and the contrast of an insect on a diamond. My favorite way to wear them is with jeans and a simple t-shirt, since they're so beautiful they stand out on their own. I've also been considering these Fewer Finer Cowgirl Boot Earrings, as an homage to my Reno roots!"