Although her handcrafted jewelry has worldly appeal, Cheryl Pesce is, in fact, a designer who finds inspiration from her hometown of Memphis and the people she interacts with every day. She combines the finest materials available—pearls, gemstones, silver, gold, copper and leather—to create custom jewelry that is both distinctive and timeless. Her collections are in boutiques and museum stores in Memphis, as well as high-end shops around the country. Look for her signature displays in stores, such as a copper bowl honoring her late grandmother’s affinity for copper bracelets, filled with black-eyed peas, a symbol of good luck. Welcome local artist Cheryl Pesce, today’s FACES of Memphis profile!

Jewelry designer Cheryl Pesce
Cheryl Pesce

Tell us about your hometown and how you arrived in Memphis.

I grew up in Columbus, AR, in the southwest part of the state, on the Texas border. I initially came to Memphis as a pharmaceutical and medical equipment rep. I moved to Jackson around the birth of my daughter, and after raising her, I decided to move back to Memphis when she went off to college. I now live on the river bluff in a live/work space with my studio on the first floor and my living environment on the second.

Jewelry designer Cheryl Pesce

When did you realize that you could turn your passion for jewelry making into a career?

When I had made necklaces to give as gifts and saw my friends wearing them with their Mikimoto pearls and David Yurman [jewelry]. I knew that they saw the value in my pieces. I then took my pieces to a local boutique, and they bought them all to show in their store.

Tell us a little bit about your designs. Where do you typically draw inspiration?

My designs are inspired by the people around me: what they’re wearing, where they’re going, the individual style of the fabulous people I interact with every day. I am continuously inspired by this wonderful city.

Jewelry designer Cheryl Pesce
Each of Cheryl’s pieces of jewelry are hand-crafted, and she only makes one or two of the same item, making each one even more special.

What springtime events are you most looking forward to in Memphis?

The Beale Street Music Festival, the farmers’ market, the Peabody Rooftop Party and the Dixon Gallery garden in full bloom.

Do you have a favorite vacation spot or travel destination?

New York for the hustle and bustle, Cancun for the sun, snow skiing in the United States and Canada, and Chicago for the shopping and the food.

Jewelry designer Cheryl Pesce's work
Cheryl incorporates a variety of materials into her jewelry, including freshwater pearls, gems, leather, sea glass, metals and natural stone. She creates entire pieces from scratch, and she also repurposes items into new works of art. Pictured here, a selection of her work shows the wide variety of jewelry she creates, including bracelets and necklaces of varying lengths.

Based on your professional experience, do you have advice for women who want to start their own business?

Be proactive. There are always opportunities out there just waiting to be taken, but you can’t benefit from them without going for them.

What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment?

Honestly, it would be my daughter. Our journey together began on a rough and lonely road with me as a single mother and her as a sick infant, yet she has been able still to grow into a successful young lady who I can be proud of.

Jewelry designer Cheryl Pesce
Cheryl’s daughter Avery was born premature when Cheryl was just 6 1/2 months pregnant. Though Avery spent her first three months in the hospital and was given a grim prognosis, Cheryl didn’t give up on her daughter, who later went on to be awarded a full scholarship to DePauw University and author her own children’s book called, “My Cat Had Kittens.” Cheryl calls her daughter her greatest accomplishment.

Do you have a few favorite local restaurants?

Houston’s, the Majestic, and I’m a huge fan of Phillip Ashley Chocolates.

What must-have beauty products are in your collection that you would recommend to others?

I like to splurge on La Mer. Recently, a friend from New York, who represents Guerlain, gifted me with their complete skincare line. It’s amazing!

Jewelry designer Cheryl Pesce

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I don’t do five-year plans anymore. I’m just going with the flow.

Name three lighthearted things that you can’t live without.

My tools and my eyeglasses are a tie for number one. I also can’t live without music, my DVF wrap dresses and my iPhone.

Fair enough! Thank you, Cheryl, for offering our readers some insight into your life and what inspires you. See more of Cheryl’s work on her Instagram feed or Facebook page.

And thank you to Micki Martin, who took today’s wonderful photos of Cheryl Pesce.

Micki Martin photography

About the Author
Lindsey Hedgepeth