Treasure Chest: a peek inside a jewelry designer's jewelry box

I dig jewelry. Big surprise, right? I design it, I make it, and I wear a ton of it too. I wear my own work often, but I’m also a huge fan of other jewelry designers and my personal collection is always growing. My dresser is in a constant state of organized clutter. I keep my favorites out on display in little dishes, because I simply can’t wear them all at once, but darn it, I want to look at them on a daily basis at least.

Here’s a look at my favorite designers, in no particular order, and the pieces I fell in love with and wear all the time. It’s easy to brag on these folks. They’re all extremely talented!

1. Cuyler Hovey KingI’ve run into this designer several times at ICE Atlanta, and each time, I can’t help but splurge on something new. Her eye for shape and finish is exquisite, and I’ve found her pendants layer extremely well with other pieces. Wearing as much jewelry as I can at one time without looking ridiculous is my goal in life, and her work is simple and clean enough that it makes that possible.

2. Lily PotteryOut of Greenville, SC, Lily Wikoff creates funky statement jewelry using stamped clay. Her whole line is gypsy-tastic, but somehow I always end up buying rings. Rings, rings, and more rings! That’s all I have, not much in the way of variety considering she makes just about everything, but hey, I’ll eventually run out of fingers and will have to branch out and get one of her “charmer” necklaces.

3. Bold BFrom across the planet, Australian artist Britta Boeckmann’s work literally made my jaw drop the first time I saw photos online. I only have two of her pieces so far, but I absolutely adore them. The wood she uses is native to Australia (and therefore very exotic to me), and looks stunning mixed with the tinted or gold leaf-flecked resin. Whenever I wear these pendants, I find myself constantly inspecting them, utterly distracted while I try to figure out how in the world she makes them. They’re flawless!

4. Audrey Laine CollectionOut of Asheville, NC, Audrey’s line features intricate metal cutouts and castings inspired by nature and geometry. Although I have a lot of her work already, probably more than any other artist on this list, I’ve got several more specific pieces on my wishlist right now. I suppose I have an Audrey Laine addiction!

5. SpectrumJulie Riffel is behind this fabulous brand, and her work ranges from geometric wooden beads, to glass bubbles, to simple brass shapes. What I love most is the variety. There’s always something new to lust after.

6. January Jewelry: From Columbia, SC, Melissa Giglio is the artist behind January Jewelry, and she crafts modern metal pieces that are perfect for everyday-wear. My husband discovered her work at Indie Craft Parade a few years ago and got me a pair of simple triangle stud earrings, and that’s how I first became a fan. He gets credit on this one!

7. Illyria PotteryFormerly out of Greenville, SC, currently out of the UK, Katie Coston is a brilliant pottery artist who’s work I enjoy both by wearing (jewelry) and in my home (decorative pieces). The necklaces I have are definitely some of the largest pieces I own, but they’re surprisingly neutral and go with everything.

Below are some newly found favorites - designers I've only recently discovered, but will definitely be buying more from in the future.

8. Among the RuinsI first found Kim Curtis on an Etsy Team, of all places, and just recently treated myself to a delicate little bracelet from her shop. The reason it took me so long to finally buy one? I literally couldn’t decide. I kept going back and forth. I had 6 in my shopping cart at one point, and finally just had to pick one because I realized couldn’t go wrong.

9. Pink DogwoodsNan Faulker is another local designer I occasionally run into at craft shows. A few weeks ago I caved in and took home this elegant but fun whistle necklace. I’m all about the leather tassel and long brass chain, but that whistle is just too clever. Plus, if anyone ever tries to steal my purse on the street, I have a secret (and oh-so-fashionable) defensive tactic!

10. Happy ArsenalMade in Taylors, SC, by Chris Jones, these etched copper and brass pendants are graphic and versatile. Very lightweight, great for layering. Tons of options available from someone who knows a thing or two about graphic design (he’s responsible for my new logo!)

So what pieces from my own handmade jewelry collection do I personally wear? I have a few favorites, of course! Let’s call it a “job perk”. Believe it or not, it took me a long time to get comfortable wearing my own work in public. I used to dread someone saying “Love your necklace, where did you get it” because I’d always turn bright red in embarrassment, break a sweat, and say something stupid like “I got it on Etsy”. I had such a terrible time taking credit for the pieces I worked so hard to design and create! I’ve gotten over it by now. Sort of. Kind of. Almost. Anyway, these pieces are the ones I made and just couldn’t part with. You might think being in a house where my entire inventory is available would mean I’d wear something different every single day, but that’s just not the case. These are the few treasured items I kept for myself.