CALIFORNIA DREAMING: Sheryl Lowe, a former makeup artist who became a jewelry designer, infuses elements of her native Southern California into her collection — but the beach and ocean references are never literal.

“I was with Donna Karan recently. She said to me, ‘Explain to me where is your ocean in this ring.’ When you have a blue beaded bracelet mixed in with a metal necklace and diamonds, you feel like you brought the beach with you — wearing it out to a dinner in Manhattan,” said Lowe, before hosting a personal appearance last Friday on a chilly Chicago morning at Neiman Marcus on Michigan Avenue.

Lowe, who met husband, actor Rob Lowe while still working as a makeup artist in the movie business some 20 years ago, said the glamorous women of the Seventies inspired her fall and holiday collection.

“It’s Seventies California with a bit of beach meets city. The feeling was a mixture of Diana Ross, Brigitte Bardot and Ali MacGraw. All these great iconic women in the Seventies inspired me,” Lowe said. “I don’t follow the rules in fashion. Whereas people say ‘less is more,’ I say ‘more is more.’ I have seven bracelets on. It’s about stacking and layering.”

Lowe’s jewelry retails from $700 for a beaded bracelet with sterling silver and diamonds to $7,000 for a long beaded necklace with diamonds, while one-off creations retail as high as $20,000.

All made in California by a team of artisans, the jewelry is crafted from handpicked stones, beads and crystals, such as Peruvian opal, apatite and labradorite.

“We’re very particular of the quality of the stones we use,” said Lowe, a former art student. “It’s handpicked and well-thought out. We have all of our stones cut.”

The designer, who launched her jewelry collection in 2006, started selling in Neiman’s in 2009.

“At first, I was only in Beverly Hills,” she said. “It’s been really steady and I’ve been blessed that women are responding. I used to say when I was a makeup artist, when you sit at the mirror and do your makeup, the end result is how you feel when you sit down. It’s the same thing with jewelry. It’s totally an extension of what you’re feeling that day.”

Chicago may be too frigid for this California girl, but Lowe gets quite the warm reception in the Windy City — calling it her “top event of the year.”

“It’s always three people deep,” Lowe said, about her store event. “We sometimes sell through 20 to 30 pieces here. My clients are so important to me. Each individual that comes here, it’s important that the piece they’re looking at really fits who they are. I don’t force a sale.”

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