When we look at some of our favorite jewelry designs, it’s easy to forget that they didn’t start out as huge companies.
They grew! They started somewhere and kept creating until they became what they are today.
Many of our readers enjoy making jewelry as well as buying it, so today we are getting inspirational. We’ve asked a number of our favorite jewelry designers where it all started for them. Specifically, we asked them the question: what is the first piece of jewelry you ever made.
In alphabetical order, here is what jewelry designers have to say about the first things they made.
“The first accessory item I ever made was a leather bag for a kid collection. It was for the last school project when I studied fashion design in 2004. Since that time I fell in love with accessories more than clothing! I took me 3 years in fashion design before I realized I was in the wrong class…
After all that time, I decided to start my 3 years of studies over, and I started studying “maroquinerie” (french word we use for leather goods). During that time I was working in a coat check and in fashion as a fashion designer.
I still remember when I got the idea for a light inside of a handbag. This idea came because a woman was not able to find her coat check ticket (and believe me, in Canada at -30 degrees, nobody wants to go out without their jackets! So for the next few days at work, I bought a flash light to help women to find their stuff into their bags. All the women were saying, ‘OOHHH wow thanks!’ or ‘This is a great idea!'”
“The first piece of jewelry I made was when I was in elementary school. I learned how to make friendship bracelets out of embroidery thread from my neighbor who said it was the latest trend. I really enjoyed making these bracelets and loved learning how to take it a step further making intricate patterns, combining colors and even spelling out words and names into the bracelets. This later evolved into macrame jewelry, beadwork, and wire wrapped pieces in high school and college. Jewelry making has always been something I have loved to do.”
“My first collections were essentially done with rubber O-rings that you can find at your local hardware store. I built up a collection of a dozen earrings that I gave to a sales rep to sell for me from store to store.
The business grew little by little until today where the product is very distinct and well appreciated. This is how I got started.”
“When I was 11, I made purses out of placemats and ribbon. Now I make handbags out of exotic leathers like fish leather, python skin, alligator, ostrich leg, and lizard.”
“The first piece of jewelry I ever made was a flat silver band with a design on it. This was in 10th grade at University High School in LA. On that one ring I learned to use a jewelers saw, jewelers files, drills and to polish.”
“The first piece of jewelry I ever made that is still in my collection and is still a best seller are the Caviar Hoop earrings. I had just learned the techniques of shaping and forming metal wire, as well as “sweat soldering”. So I flattened out some wire in the middle, shaped it to form a hoop, then sweat soldered some balled up pieces of solder (the caviar!) on the flat part…and voila, the Caviar hoop was born. The rest of the collection of Caviar pieces followed!”
“The first accessory we began producing was the Home Pillow. Our customers were requesting it and we realized that it is the perfect way to show off your state pride in your home, while also helping to raise money for multiple sclerosis research.
This elegant 22 x 22 pillow is made out of a high-quality fabric that is extremely versatile. You’ll find that it will easily work in your living room, bedroom, office, or just about anywhere else you want to put it. It’s the perfect afternoon napping pillow!”
“My first real earring design came in 1987 from an interesting chance meeting while hanging out on a beach in Bali after surfing one day. A young boy came up to me and offered to sell me these beautiful little teardrop opalescent glass beads. I had been buying silver jewelry from Bali and imagined how these would look set in sterling. I bought the beads from Him and did a quick drawing on a napkin and brought it up to a Balinese silversmith and from my drawing he made a gorgeous top to the bead and set a little amethyst in it.
I brought these back to a trade show in NY and it was a huge success. I could not make them fast enough. I ended up selling this style for about 6 years in multiple semi precious variations in the top stone and within time almost everyone else doing silver jewelry out of Bali also copied it and sold them like crazy. I actually met a guy who said, ‘You designed that? Thanks so much, I sold almost 100,000 pairs of them!’
I stopped selling them at about this point as people would say, ‘Oh I’ve seen that everywhere,’ and I wanted to be unique with my designs at that point so I just moved on.”
“I was going through the most challenging season in my life, dealing with loss and change- and I was determined to find a piece of jewelry that would serve as a daily reminder in encouraging me to choose joy, even in my hard circumstances. I’ve always been drawn to text and typography, so I invested in metal stamping tools and typed out a quote from my favorite book on a piece of copper: ‘But Courage, Child. -Aslan’ from The Chronicles of Narnia. The message of this necklace spoke to many as I wore it, and my business was born.
Shortly after I had made that first necklace- it was published as a ‘top literary gift’ online, which gave me the opportunity to encourage others all over the world with those simple words.”
“The first piece of jewelry I made was from an Eastlake style keyhole. I worked for an architectural salvage company and would find things throughout the store that inspired me. This particular keyhole had beautiful details and I knew I couldn’t put it back in a drawer. I added jump rings and chain and a small key just for fun! I wore it for years and had many many compliments from friends and family begging me to make one for them. So after they all got one for Christmas gifts I decided I would try to sell them!! That’s how I got into the jewelry business!”
“First, it is important to mention, Ronen is a 4th generation family of silversmiths. Mariana’s first jewelries were hand made, silver and 14k gold craftings. She started designing fashion jewelries after being exposed to the variety of crystal colors, and felt the urge to work with colors and gems. Her first piece was N-3044/1 4044, which combines ancient Swarovski opals, in pale blue.”
“My first and all time favorite item is a wire wrapped stone cuff.”
“In 1978, I was still teaching myself how to make jewelry and used to go to salvage places looking for interesting parts that I could turn into other parts. One day, I came upon a bag of machined spraying system nozzles which I cut up and burred for stone settings and they became a very popular earring style that is still in our line today. What I made from that part is now machined in the exact way that the final design requires.”
“I made my first piece of jewelry, a bracelet, while undergoing chemotherapy. I used semi precious gemstones I bought from eBay and one of my husbands old Catholic medals. My love for jewelry making was born and blossomed over the last 9 years into a full-time successful business!”
“I wanted to share with you our very first piece we designed in that line— it was our aspire bracelet. We designed this piece with 2 dog tag charms representing our military past, but also because dog tags are always on trend and seen on the runway.
We made the top dog tag with 134 handset Swarovski crystals and the 2nd dog tag engraved with the word aspire. We wanted a universal word that could relate to everyone to aspire to greatness.
The paracord is a cord that was first used in WWII for parachutes— it’s very durable! We loved that it represented strength and also was more casual. The causal cord mixed with the sparkle from the crystals are a perfect duo.
After designing this piece, Lori Griener, our Shark from ABC’s Shark Tank, wore the bracelet on an entire season of the show and we sold thousands of them. Lori then brought the bracelet on The View and gave it to Whoopi Goldberg helping sell even more of them. We decided from the success of our first aspire bracelet that we need to create an entire women’s empowerment line which assisted in the birth of Women Warriors by Stella Valle.”
“Below is a photo of the first bracelets and the first necklace that I made.”
“I started making jewelry in high school out of beef soup bones! It was quite a process…I bought bags of bones from the supermarket…boiled them…carved them and sliced them….then would construct pendants and earrings out of the pieces along with sterling silver. I have attached a picture of our line today ….quite different! We are exclusively made in the US for over 30 years.”
“Late one night before an upcoming wedding event, Tim Paslay was in his shop trying to think up something he could wear that would give a representation of his passion for creating. His material of choice was wood and when he landed on the reemerging trend of a bow tie, the first wooden bow tie was designed. He wore it to the wedding and received several compliments and questions as to what it was made of and where they can buy one. He partnered up with business savvy Adam Teague to take this idea and turn it into a business. The rest is history!”
“The first piece of jewelry I ever made was a beaded necklace at my 8th birthday, which had a little jewelry making station. Growing up with two artists for parents (Richard Bruland and Dori Atlantis), creative play was a huge part of my childhood, and it’s shaped they way I look at everyday objects…hello, jewelry made from books! Thanks Mom and Dad! “
“The first piece of jewelry I made…was never made!
I wanted to learn how to make jewelry, so I took a class. But, as usual, I bit off more than I could chew and just could not finish the piece. It’s a problem I struggle with often–there’s so much goodness out there. Sometimes you just need to know when to stop!”
Thank you for reading! We’d like to make this an ongoing segment called “Designers Answer.” Are there any questions you would like your favorite jewelry designers to answer? Write in the comments below!