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Designs by Alina:  Handcrafted jewelry fabricated with gold, pave diamonds, and choice pearls for the sophisticated modern-classic woman. Beauty and inspiration forever entwined. Lifestyle blog on design, travel, fashion, family.



Designs by Alina Lifestyle Magazine

Blog, Travel, family, interior design, jewelry design and fashion.



A Sacred Place: Before and After the Thomas Fire

Alina de Albergaria

Lifestyle blogger

My mother used to say that the sun was her boyfriend even when my father's work kept him close to home. But much to her heart's lament, those sanctioned trysts in Venezuela and Los Angeles all but disappeared when we moved to England.

Today the Hot Springs Trail in Montecito, California, has become my own family's paramour. Located just five minutes from home, she has authored countless De Albergaria adventures in nearly every weather condition imaginable.

Nearly every condition, but thankfully not all.

With a craving of its own, the 2017 Thomas Fire (Christmas on Fire: A Tale of Silver Lining) had ominous plans for our beloved trail, holding her hostage to its wrath over the course of four harrowing weeks. What was left in its wake was an apocalyptic rendition of her former self.

Photo by Bernardo de Albergaria, January 8, 2018

Photo by Bernardo de Albergaria, January 8, 2018

On the heels of our return from Carmel under mandatory evacuation orders, my husband once again took to the trail with our son unaware that they were unwitting participants in the calm before the storm.


The very next day, Hot Springs would meet an even more nefarious fate with a deadly deluge that would forever alter the trail's landscape, and more importantly, the very souls of the people she served.

Steady reminders of that tragic event depleted me of the courage I needed to revisit my muse. A few weeks ago I decided to forego my elliptical in favor of a hike and was immediately spellbound by her pastoral grace. From mere rock and soot, wildflowers sprouted at every turn with an ashen backdrop shifting into light, an allegory for life itself. 

As we continue to grieve, our community grows stronger. We are the cumulation of our sorrows and joys, wins and losses, timidity and boldness. I am passionate about the belief that we are the product of life's very contradictions, a concept I try to convey through my jewelry designs.

The lesson emboldened by the recent events our community continues to endure may have been set in motion for me through my mother's own fading sun. And while there is still much to learn, taking pause to acknowledge life's ephemeral beauty is one lesson I hope to keep within my grasp in the years ahead.

June, 2016

June, 2016

June, 2018

June, 2018

#grateful #santabarbarastrong #montecitostrong 


Santa Barbara Magazine features Designs by Alina

Alina de Albergaria

Santa barbara Magazine

Just like C Magazine celebrates California's vibrant lifestyle, its sister publication, Santa Barbara Magazine celebrates Santa Barbara’s rich and colorful lifestyle with award-winning editorial on Santa Barbara people, homes and gardens, architecture, fashion, food and wine, history, arts, and dreamy escapes.

Since its inception Santa Barbara Magazine has been one of my favorite lifestyle magazines so naturally we are thrilled to be featured in the magazine's latest issue as The GOLD Standard.

Santa Barbara Magazine Designs by Alina

The piece introduces our 18K Gallery Collection, a highly textured 18K gold and diamond jewelry line inspired by modern art and handcrafted in California. The collection was launched this spring at a private event to raise funds for the Carolyn Glasoe Bailey Foundation and is now available to the public. 

How to create a beautiful Instagram feed

Alina de Albergaria

How to create a beautiful instagram feed

I have a crush on Instagram.

Okay, I said it.

A couple of years ago I was told by a social media guru that Instagram was essential for my business. Fearing that it would keep me from my beloved world of design, I begrudgingly took her advice and dove head first into the new realm. Little did I know that it would become another catalyst for creativity.  

But the way I approach it today is a far cry from when I began. Much like my blog has morphed into a lifestyle journal, our Instagram feed is more like a lifestyle magazine which keeps Designs by Alina and our followers happy.

Whether or not you are a brand, you don't have to be a professional photographer or have a crew behind you to create beautiful content. While it may seem daunting at first, as with anything in life, a good dose of passion and persistence coupled with these five #instatips will pave the way to a beautiful feed.


This should go without saying but many times we become attached to a moment and post a poor quality image even though instinct tells us that it will drive a dagger right through our page. A poor quality image will never yield a gorgeous feed and if gorgeous is your goal, you need to nix it. Do you have a high end camera? Use it! Sure, it creates a lot more work but the result is well worth it.


Random may be ideal when shuffling through a playlist or drawing a name for a raffle but when it comes to creating a beautiful aesthetic, posting random photos will have the opposite effect. One of the biggest mistakes I see on Instagram is inconsistency. One day there is a field of intensely colored flowers, the next an ill begotten selfie followed by a random repost and a washed out rock concert. If you are using Instagram to share moments with family and friends, this is perfectly fine and indeed is one of the many purposes of the app. But if your passion is beauty or you are a brand, you will be better served to approach Instagram as a curator approaches an art exhibit.  

Below are two well achieved examples. In the first, @aurelycerise has chosen a careful array of colorful, minimalist photography, while @designstuff has curated a lovely collection of mildly hued photographs to display their wares.

Photo courtesy of: @aurelycerise

Photo courtesy of: @aurelycerise

Photo courtesy of @designstuff

Photo courtesy of @designstuff

@bkstreetart on the other hand takes on a more bold approach with urban art. In all cases the feed is driven by a theme.

Photo courtesy of of @bkstreetart

Photo courtesy of of @bkstreetart


For me this is one of the most crucial and yet most difficult qualities to achieve. It is frustrating to spend time and energy working with a specific image only to notice too late that it has upset the equilibrium in your feed A client of mine introduced me to a wonderful app, Preview, which allows you to plan out your content. I have been using it for several weeks and can't imagine parting with it. EVER. Preview allows me to post life as it unfolds while still maintaining a certain aesthetic. 

Here is a look at my feed before and after using the Preview app:

@designsbyalinathebrand before using the Preview app.

@designsbyalinathebrand before using the Preview app.


In the above example, I shot the images with a Sony Alpha 6000 in ideal lighting, however, as a whole the feed feels heavy which detracts from each photo. The jewelry is one-sided which further upsets the balance.

Below is Designs by Alina's (@lovedesignsbyalina) current Instagram feed. Notice how the product photos are carefully juxtaposed as are the minimal with the more extravagant ones. While most shots narrate life as it unfolds, there is no reason not to pull out the oldies but goodies that everyone loves to help drive the lifestyle narrative. That said, if there is an event that might upset the balance in your feed that you must post, by all means do. You can decide whether or not to delete it later. 

@designsbyalinathebrand after using the preview app.

@designsbyalinathebrand after using the preview app.


When I first got my feet wet in the instaworld, I reposted a lot because I assumed I needed to show how our designs would look with current trends and styles, so rather than forging ahead with my own aesthetic, I was on an endless quest for content. This approach not only failed to fulfill my own need to create but it also failed to engage my followers because it was neither authentic nor cohesive. Had I listened to my heart and instinct, I would have put to good use the words I always share with my children: 


Indeed, if you approach your feed with a passion for design and beauty rather than a race to gain a following, you are more likely to engage than if you drive yourself crazy searching through someone else's content.


Photos courtesy of @thebest_capture

Photos courtesy of @thebest_capture

  • If it genuinely ties in with your business and feed. For the most part the Instagram community appreciates originality and authenticity. If you are a brand, that is a must. But if and when someone else's content relates to yours, it makes sense to use it.

In either case, there is a lot of time and money behind content, especially if you are a brand, so please give credit where credit is due. I have had a couple of situations arise with my own images and jewelry that were highly unethical. In one case, an interior designer posted an image as her own. I later realized that this was not an isolated incident as other designers posted comments requesting they be given credit. Similarly one of our necklaces was used for a magazine feature in which only the boutique that carried our jewelry was credited. The magazine had no idea that the necklace was ours and quickly credited us on Instagram and the online version of the feature (for print it was too late). I subsequently dropped the account which misappropriated our jewelry. So the rule of thumb is: if it's not yours, give proper credit. Similarly, when using branded hashtags, you are essentially telling the hashtag creator that you agree to have your content reposted, but that does not eliminate their obligation to credit you.


If like me, you are the sole creator of your Instagram content, building your feed can seem overwhelming at first. Our feed has evolved over time, something that could only be achieved with dedication, trial and error. Play with different filters to create a cohesive unique aesthetic. If you don't like it, delete it. If you want to move in a new direction, "just do it!" But most of all, let your passion and authenticity guide you.

Enjoy the process and result!

Like our feed? Follow us here @designsbyalinathebrand 

Like what you read? Sign up for our quarterly newsletter covering everything from travel to interior decor to family and design. We send out only four per year, just enough to keep you in the know.

Designs by Alina seeking beauty with passion.



New 18K solid gold jewels inspired by modern art

Alina de Albergaria


Whether it is a piece of jewelry, my home, or wardrobe, I have always favored the juxtaposition of the avant-garde and classic over mainstream trend. There is something very alluring about moving forward with a nod to the past while honing one’s own style. Since its inception four years ago, Designs by Alina has embraced that philosophy as well as the ideas that beauty and inspiration should forever be entwined and that quality should never be compromised for the sake of design. Today I am thrilled to take those notions even further with the introduction of our 18K Gallery Collection. 

It has been very rewarding to collaborate over the years with nonprofits from coast to coast. Our most recent partnership with The Carolyn Glasoe Bailey Foundation, "Influential Women in Art and Design" is unique in that this new collection is inspired by art and designed precisely to benefit the very community that galvanized it. We are grateful to the foundation's Executive Director, Frederick Janka, for the months of preparation leading up to the launch and honored to support those who help immortalize a moment in time, a moment in culture, through their commitment to create.

When I set out to design this first conceptual collection in the series, I had six goals in mind:

  1. Use high karat gold which is unparalleled for its richness in color and texture.
  2. Juxtapose modern art with the look of ancient gold.
  3. Fabricate a cohesive collection that is in equal measure meaningful and stunning. 
  4. Each heirloom quality piece to be fabricated by hand in my beloved state.
  5. Donate a percentage of proceeds at each launch and private event to organizations that support the arts.
  6. Collaborate with galleries and museums to propel their work.

About the first collection in this artist inspired series…

When Frederick turned my attention to Xaviera Simmons, recently named by Elle Magazine as “one of the most powerful women in art today,” known for her multimedia exhibits at MoMA, The Guggenheim and MCA Chicago among many museums, I was captivated. The moment I saw the piece below: Untitled (Green), I knew I had found my inspiration.

Xaviera Simmons  Untitled  (Green), 2016 - Photo courtesy of the artist and The Carolyn Glasoe Bailey Foundation

Xaviera Simmons Untitled (Green), 2016 - Photo courtesy of the artist and The Carolyn Glasoe Bailey Foundation

Uncovered  ring - 18K solid gold and white diamonds hand-forged in California

Uncovered ring - 18K solid gold and white diamonds hand-forged in California

I knew very little about the artist when I designed Uncovered (above) but as the days and weeks progressed my obsession to understand the mind behind the work sent me on a quest to unearth everything I could on Simmons. The internet became my best friend offering a plethora of insightful podcasts, videos, interviews, and of course, images of her work, each new revelation fueling my own creativity.

When we met, I was delighted to learn that she is a kindred spirit of sorts with whom I share many interests and views. While we have both been infused with an insatiable need to create (Xaviera describes herself as “restless” when it comes to filling that need) I also discovered that her desire to carve out meaning as it relates to culture, spirit, and landscape, is suspended somewhere between past, present and future, a theme that runs deep in her ever evolving work. That fusion of nostalgia with the unexpected has been a topic of interest to me since childhood, especially as our family was uprooted so often. This is just one of the many ways I feel connected to Simmons’ work.

The rest of the collection was inspired, not only by her works, but by the conversations that followed. Our Cocoon necklace, for example, incorporates elements from Around the Y, (2010) as well as conversations Xaviera and I shared about the preservation of culture and being home. 

Xaviera Simmons,  Around the Y , 2010 - Photo courtesy of the artist and The Modern Notes Podcast

Xaviera Simmons, Around the Y, 2010 - Photo courtesy of the artist and The Modern Notes Podcast

Cocoon  necklace - 18K solid gold hand-forged in California

Cocoon necklace - 18K solid gold hand-forged in California

While the necklace below Canyon, draws inspiration from Simmons’ love of landscape, our Migration earrings, spawn from conversations revolving around the theme of migration and Simmons’ work Superunknown (Alive In The) (2010).

Xaviera Simmons,  Canyon , 2010 - Photo courtesy of the artist and The Modern Notes Podcast

Xaviera Simmons, Canyon, 2010 - Photo courtesy of the artist and The Modern Notes Podcast

Canyon  necklace, 18K solid sold, hand-forged in California

Canyon necklace, 18K solid sold, hand-forged in California

Migration  earrings, hand-forged in California with 18K solid gold

Migration earrings, hand-forged in California with 18K solid gold

Discover the full collection here: 18K Gallery Collection

With deep appreciation to Xaviera Simmons for the inspiration and wonderful conversations, to Frederick Janka for his friendship, support and laughter, and to the Carolyn Glasoe Bailey Foundation for giving artists a wonderful platform from which to evolve.


Influential Women in Art and Design featuring our 18K Gallery Collection

Alina de Albergaria

Influential Women in Art and Design  with host Frederick Janka, Executive Director of The Carolyn Glasoe Bailey Foundation, multimedia artist Xaviera Simmons, and Designs by Alina founder, Alina de Albergaria.

Influential Women in Art and Design with host Frederick Janka, Executive Director of The Carolyn Glasoe Bailey Foundation, multimedia artist Xaviera Simmons, and Designs by Alina founder, Alina de Albergaria.

The much anticipated Influential Women in Art and Design took place last weekend in our family home nestled between the halcyon hills of Santa Barbara and Montecito. Featuring the unveiling of our 18K Gallery Collection, the event was held to benefit the Carolyn Glasoe Bailey Foundation. Among the attendees were the artist who inspired the collection, Xaviera Simmons, known for her multimedia exhibits at the Guggenheim Museum and the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Gina Tolleson, Executive Editor of Santa Barbara Magazine, Lila Glasoe Francese and Frederick Janka, respectively the President and Executive Director of The Carolyn Glasoe Bailey Foundation, among others.

The artist and designer kicked off the event by conversing about the sources of inspiration behind their work and the importance of supporting fellow creatives. The afternoon would not have been complete without the artful cuisine of celebrated chef Lori Stern whose gorgeous edibles blended in seamlessly with the picturesque landscape.

Last but not least we leave you with a peek at the collection:


Want to see it all?  Sure you do