By Brecken Branstrator

But one of my favorite pieces of news about Etsy so far was the craft site’s partnership with the American Museum of Natural History here in New York.

The museum and some Etsy designers teamed up to create products inspired by nature and the exhibits on display. The products are being sold both at its gift shop as well as online. The selection features more than 140 items, including jewelry as well as scarves, tote bags and more.

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Leah Hall’s studs were inspired by the ocean and the museum’s Milstein Hall of Ocean Life, and are meant to be mixed and matched. The porcelain iceberg pendant necklace on the right, by Amy Hamley, is inspired by both the Gems and Mineral Hall and the current Nature’s Fury exhibit (retails for $98).

Now, you’ve heard me gush about my love affair with that museum once already on this blog, so I’ll spare you that again.

But to celebrate the collaboration, they held an event at the museum last Thursday morning to show off both the new wares and the inspiration behind them. At the event (held first thing in the morning, before it was open to the public), they took us into the gift shop to get to see the pieces in the collections and hear the designers talk a little bit about their work.

Then the museum offered press the chance to go on a “behind-the-scenes” tour. Admittedly, I had no idea what that would entail when I was offered the opportunity, but there was no way I was going to miss out on whatever it was.

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Designer Amanda Bielskas was inspired by the life-size replica of a blue whale that can be found in the museum’s Milstein Hall of Ocean Life (pictured at right) when she created this sterling silver necklace. It retails for $250.

It exceeded my expectations. The point of this little adventure was to show a few of the things around the museum that inspired the designers’ works.

Our first stop was in the museum’s rare book room in their library, where library director Tom Baione showed us nature images inside books dating back to the 1800s, including a whale illustration that helped designer Amanda Bielskas get the dimensions right for her silver whale necklace.

Then we ventured back into the “staff only” part of the museum to speak with ornithologist and collections manager Paul Sweet, about his work and to see the collection of bird, egg and nest specimens that he and other museum employees have collected over the years.

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Jessica Kertis Ulrich used some of the speckled eggs in the museum’s ornithology collection as creative inspiration for her leather pouches, which are $48 each and feature a brown tag similar to those found with each specimen in the collection.

The full collection, not just the jewelry, is intriguing and inspiring. Check out the whole lineup online here, and for goodness sake, get yourself to that museum if you haven’t already.

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