The South is home to so many impressive jewelry designers whose stories and styles are consistently dazzling and inspiring. We spoke to five such creators — all from North Carolina — who have caught our eye and adorned our jewelry boxes. We included lots of photos of their gorgeous pieces that might just end up on your wishlist. From stunning hammered gold to eco-friendly resin to funky statement-making colors, check out these five North Carolina-born and -bred jewelry lines you’ll love.
Campbell + Charlotte
Campbell + Charlotte fine jewelry is designed by Jenny Crane McHugh in Charlotte, NC, and crafted by hand in New York City. Jenny’s love for jewelry started at an early age. “I have always loved jewelry and had a seemingly out of reach dream that I would one day design my own line. I didn’t really think I would ever do it,” she tells us. “When my first child was born, I was hit with a huge ‘mama moment.’ I had an overwhelming desire to show my daughter that hard isn’t impossible and to make her proud. I hope she is able to learn from me that risk can be worth the reward,” Jenny says.
Jenny designs things that make her happy and that she thinks will make her clients happy. “This can be anything from a bold use of color to a whimsical design element. I am constantly sketching in my head when I see shapes, lines or movement in the world around me that I think could make a killer piece. I then sketch and resketch that one element until I’m satisfied with how it looks in a particular piece,” she says.
Jenny wants people to feel happy and bold in her designs. “Like she or he can rule the world,” she says. “My designs are meant to stand out and be noticed by others, but they aren’t meant to be taken too seriously. Our tagline really embodies what we are trying to do: Serious jewels for those who don’t take themselves too seriously. We take the design and production of our pieces seriously, but they are meant to make you feel good!”
“I sort of fell into jewelry designing by accident,” says Nolan Joyce of Noble Collective. “I knew Corporate America was not for me, and I was exploring different options. I started working at a bead store, then I worked under a designer, and fast-forward a decade later, here I am. There are so many different stones and beads out there … I love that you can make a mess and a masterpiece all at the same time. It’s like letting my mind wander in a tangible kind of way,” she says. Nolan’s gold- and bead-centric designs reach from earrings to simple necklace pendants.
When asked what inspires her new designs, Nolan says, “I truly go with what I like at the moment. I’m sure my emotions contribute, as well as the season and particular style I’m into, but I definitely would say I gravitate towards whatever beads give me vibes at the time.” We are feeling your good jewelry vibes, Nolan!
Nolan wants people to feel bold when wearing her pieces. “When I make the jewelry that gives me the most feel-good feelings, it’s typically pretty big and funky. During this season of life, I haven’t been able to do that quite as much. However, I want people to feel good about any piece they purchase from me. Whether it’s big or small, funky or simple, if I am selling you something, it’s because I like it and I would wear it!” Nolan says.
Laura McMillan-Mera of Studio Laudrés has been designing and making “wearable art” with polymer clay and precious metals and stones since she was about 10 years old. “Ever since I can remember, I’ve been surrounded by other cultures’ art, design and viewpoints … my mom was an interior designer,” Laura tells us. “I have always looked for what’s different than my local surroundings. I never quite wanted to fit into a bubble or group of like people.” Laura’s designs range from classic and understated to head-turning and color-drenched.
To glean inspiration for new pieces, Laura stops and intentionally draws from her life’s experiences — mundane to exciting. “Inspiration can come on a whim from the memory of the graffitied streets in Valparaíso, Chile, or from a quick glance over to the textured throw blankets draped over our sofa,” she says. She has enjoyed seeing both her designs and herself as a person mature as the years progress. “My jewelry business is a way to share part of my heart and joy with the world,” she adds. “My hope is for people to feel the joy of belonging when they wear my jewelry. I want people to know they belong here and they are connected to a community, no matter their location. I want people to remember they are kind, unique, and adventurous — even if it’s hard to believe at times. I want people to feel that it’s beautiful to express who they are, however they may feel, on any given day.”
“I’m an architect by profession but started my artistic career as a painter using acrylics and nature finds applied on wood canvases,” says Rosa Murillo of Muro Jewelry. “Through research, I discovered the applications of hand-colored, eco-friendly resin. As I was making smaller pieces, a friend of mine suggested adding a chain to one of my paintings so she could wear it as a necklace. I loved discovering the integration of art into wearable art. Little by little, my work evolved from two-dimensional large-scale pieces to three-dimensional wearable art.” What Rosa creates is undoubtedly more art than jewelry.
Rosa’s modern and colorful pieces are inspired by geometry found in nature and the precise, calculated beauty of modern architecture. “The impact my work has on the environment is one of my primary concerns, and using natural and repurposed elements is a critical part of my process. Experimenting with materials such as eco-friendly resins, reclaimed wood, leaves, crushed stones, recycled metals, and a variety of natural pigments is part of my creative process,” she says.
She spends a lot of time with each piece, leaving “thoughts, emotions, and a bit of pixie dust” in every finished product. “I strongly believe in meaningful connections through the objects I create and the people who wear Muro Jewelry,” Rosa says. “Observing the reaction of my customers when they interact and wear my jewelry keeps me motivated to develop new and exciting work.” This passion and love of nature and human connection is apparent in her fabulously creative and intricate designs.
Twine & Twig
Sisters Elizabeth Stafford White and Jacquelyn Stafford Buckner launched Twine & Twig in 2013, inspired by a love for the rustic outdoors and the casual calm of the Carolina coast. “We started designing jewelry to fill a void of what we thought was missing in the jewelry industry — a bold and rustic statement piece,” Jacquelyn tells us. What started as a passion and a hobby quickly became this pair’s company and brand. Featuring naturally sourced materials from around the world, each piece is designed, built, and tied with their signature suede strap in their Charlotte-based studio.
“Elizabeth is inspired by her travels. She is constantly seeking out new places and adventures. I get inspired by live music. I love seeing how everyone rocks festival wears and the lights during shows,” Jacqueline continues. “We are both endlessly inspired by our children and the way they see the world. We want people to feel like they are wearing a piece of art when they get dressed.”
Elizabeth and Jacquelyn hope to put a smile on their customers’ faces every time a Twine & Twig piece is added to an outfit. To know that the piece was made by hand in North Carolina by a team of creative and hardworking girls is the icing on the cake!
Thanks to these five incredible designers and North Carolinians for sharing their process, their inspiration, and their photos with us! If you snag a piece for yourself, show us by tagging us on Instagram @StyleBlueprint!
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