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Artisan Spotlight: Blaque Reily of Portmanteau Jewelry

Jewelry maker Blaque Reily explores lines and asymmetry and forges unlikely connections.

Written By:  Emily Davidson Nemoy

Photographers:  Ashtin Paige

Working with feathers, pearls, and a variety of metals, jewelry designer Blaque Reily, of Portmanteau, creates unique adornments, many of which are interchangeable. The organically shaped, bohemian-influenced line offers heirloom-quality appeal.

Reily is a designer with an MBA—a maker who taps into both her right and left brain when it comes to her work. She grew up in Alaska, the daughter of a commercial fisherman and a photographer, and moved to Nashville to get her business degree, focusing on social impact brands. While in school, Reily worked with Nisolo and Stony Creek Colors, and made jewelry on the side.

“I had an idea for something that wasn’t out there—so I made it myself,” she says. Eventually, Reily decided to focus her energy on her own wares.

As a brand, Portmanteau tells a story. Reily stamps limited-production pieces, like the hand-hammered, natural-brass patina anvil cuff, with a unique number. Worn as a single adjustable cuff or layered for a different look, each bracelet feels special and rare. The signature design of the split hoop and ball earrings speaks to the designer’s love of asymmetry. Available in gold, rose gold, or silver, and sold as a matching pair, these gems can be layered with her drop chain or biot as accents.

“I really enjoy my customers,” Reily says. “And I think that they enjoy my brand, because it lets them push their boundaries and experiment.”

Many of the pieces in the Portmanteau collection can be mixed and matched. Earrings are sold in pairs, but designs can be blended. Lots of customers opt to pair statement pieces with more minimalistic looks. Reily partners with a supplier for conflict-free, recycled basic metals and components—but the fun part of her job is keeping an eye out for things that inspire her, such as vintage chain and jewelry remnants.

She also enjoys incorporating organic materials, such as pearls and feathers, into her work. For example, she has family in New Zealand, who hunt duck and forest pheasant for food. Rather than discarding unused parts, they send her the feathers for her art. “It’s important to me to know where my supplies come from,” she adds.

As for the name, Portmanteau was inspired by author Lewis Carroll’s book, Through the Looking Glass, in which he coined a new meaning for the word. In response to the Jabberwocky poem, Humpty Dumpty explains to a confused Alice how two words can be packed together, like compartments in a portmanteau suitcase. “Portmanteau” means the combination of two or more items or qualities which can also stand alone—much like the jewelry line, which offers wearers many uses.

Available online or at Emerson Grace, Wilder, and H. Audreyport-manteau.com

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