Whether it’s an effortless pair of simple gold studs or a diamond-studded bracelet, jewelry is always a pleasure to gift and receive. And when it’s sourced from small, women-owned businesses, the “happy” is even happier. From stunning hammered metals to eco-friendly stones and funky statement-making shapes, you’ll swoon over these Southern jewelry brands.
SB NOTE: This list is just a slice of the hundreds of jewelry designers around the South that y’all adore. If we missed your favorite, let us know! We always want to learn about new brands. Email [email protected].
Judith Bright is nothing short of a Southern style icon. You’ve seen her jewelry on movie stars, but you’ve also gifted it to your next-door neighbor who helped you out in a pinch. Judith’s pieces are approachable, colorful (if that’s your thing), and loveable for a lifetime. Whether you’re customizing by birthstone or gemstone or shopping what’s in stock, you know you’re doing direct good in the community, too.
Campbell + Charlotte
Jenny Crane McHugh makes “serious jewels for those who don’t take themselves too seriously.” And ain’t that the truth? Her pieces are luxurious and loud without being obnoxious. Asymmetry and weird shapes rule, and an innate playfulness will spark a smile at each glance, whether you wear Campbell + Charlotte every day or just on certain ones.
When it comes to sourcing and setting fine gemstones, Liz Martindale is the indisputable guru of the South. At age 19, she began repurposing broken jewelry pieces from antique markets. The hobby sparked her to study and get certified at the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). Her 18 to 22kt gold and platinum designs are inspired by travel, architecture, and nature.
New Orleans, LA
“Hints of New Orleans architecture, Louisiana wildlife, and everyday objects have been transformed into iconic pieces of jewelry” since 1969, says Mignon Faget’s journal. Her Magazine Street design house churns out delectable collections of everyday and special occasion pieces.
Melissa Tyson Designs
For more than 20 years, Melissa Tyson has been transforming metal scraps into stunning pieces through melting, molding, and hammering.” Craftsmanship to me is about excellence but not perfection,” Melissa’s “about me” reads. She leaves little marks of her process as reminders that humans are innately flawed, but imperfections can still be beautiful.
Ann Williams started Yearly Co. after she witnessed a precious exchange of a simple gold bracelet between her grandfather and her grandmother. Now, her Nashville-based team of metalworkers uses ethically sourced and recycled 14k gold to create simple and buildable pieces made to be worn, collected, and handed down for generations.
Sullivans Island, SC
Specializing in organic textures and whimsical shapes, Goldbug has a bevy of unexpected surprises for the quirky and hard-to-shop-for. Ashley Reid Martin slings her modern handmade jewelry in the cutest shop on Sullivan’s Island, SC, but you can peruse the ever-evolving Hot off the Bench! section on her online store. We want everything!
San Antonio, TX
In her hometown of Lockhart, Texas, the Southern women around Susan Shaw never left the house without their “earbobs” on. Since 1979, Susan has been crafting timeless pieces and solidifying her “shtick” with signature motifs like bees and butterflies.
Suzanne Crook and Carolyn Greenfield, the visionaries behind Carden Avenue, create pieces that are both edgy and classic. The mix of metals makes for statement-making color contrast, and emblems like antique coins and crosses give meaning and power to their collection.
Pieces of Starr
Atlanta-based jewelry designer Starr Miller “takes equal parts inspiration from Rihanna, her mother, and My Little Pony,” says her site. And we can see this amalgamation of legacy and culture in her inventive pieces. Starr seems to get lost (in the best way) in her inlaid gemstones and celestial engravings.
Emily Warden Designs
Working with both semi-precious and precious stones and lots of different metals, Emily Warden does it all. From custom diamonded bridal to fabulous “under $120” staples, there is something for everyone here. Emily’s childhood love of miniature, tiny things translated into a creative career in jewelry — small pieces of art. When she isn’t metalsmithing, Emily is also a trained hot glass blower and sculptor.
Shelby Mullins is a multifaceted designer who does small-scale interior design work and boasts a small-but-mighty collection of hand-crafted jewelry. She mixes modern elements with antiques in her spaces, and her “modern heirloom” jewelry reflects the same idea. From simple huggies to stunning cigar bands, Studio Mullins knocks it out of the park.
Keaton Sanders Martin creates wearable art that incorporates natural elements in the most spellbinding ways. It’s the opposite of mass production — every piece is made by hand, and no two are the same. They’re chunky, eye-catching, and something you’ll be sublimely proud to own. Keaton also creates the coolest bolo ties if you’ve got a cowboy or cowgirl on your list.
Cara Ó Sello
Irresistibly playful and buildable, the Cara Ó Sello collection has something for everyone. Designed and handmade in South Florida by two sisters, Andrea (27) and Nicole Alvardedo (30), and their mom, it’s no wonder the younger gens are eating this up. Be the cool gifter and give Cara Ó Sello.
Vana Chupp Studio
Vana’s mastery of paper silhouette art turned a small Etsy shop into a boutique lifestyle brand with global recognition and impactful community giveback. Vana’s team takes your sentimental photos of people, pets, or moments and fashions your images into silhouette portraits to create stunning jewelry and accessories that will stay in the family forever.
Margaret Ellis Jewelry
Bold, often oversized, and always irresistible pieces meant to wow are Margaret Ellis Jewelry’s specialty! Owner and designer Mclaine Richardson (who kept the name Margaret Ellis to honor 30 years of mentorship by the brand’s founder) continues to take the highest quality materials and amalgamize them in the most unexpected and delightful ways.
Amber and Edward Glassman quit their full-time jobs and moved to Austin, Texas, to create a lifestyle brand honoring Amber’s brother, who passed away tragically. Their pieces are meant to uplift, inspire, and you can find the perfect personal gift for every relationship.
Happy jewelry box refresh!
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