A Charleston jewelry designer creates one-of-a-kind pieces that reflect life stories


IF YOU THINK ABOUT YOUR FAVORITE PIECES OF JEWELRY, what comes to mind? Maybe it’s your mother’s wedding ring or your own, or the earrings you bought on vacation. Jewelry can be a way to pull an outfit together, but it’s more fun to wear when it holds a treasured memory. This concept is what drives Kiersten Elizabeth to design jewelry.

Elizabeth’s one-of-a-kind jewelry is saturated with color, alive with texture. Details that go unnoticed by all but the wearer, such as clasps and ring profiles, are thoughtful and elegant. The colors of the natural elements and fine gems in her Caribbean Commonwealth Collection are inspired by living by the ocean. Her Celebration & Circumstance Collection is designed to mark life’s milestones. The Chronology Collection captures moments in time and special occasions, such as anniversaries.

Her love affair with jewelry started early in life. Elizabeth’s great- grandfather loved giving jewelry as gifts to his granddaughters. His passion was the genesis of what would become a long-standing family tradition. When Elizabeth graduated college, she began working in the fine jewelry industry, where her interests led her to certifications in diamonds and colored gemstones. However, as a creative, she wasn’t enthusiastic about what was being mass-marketed. She began making jewelry for herself, then started making jewelry for family and friends when they too couldn’t find anything they liked in stores.

After a career detour, Elizabeth refocused her life around creative pursuits and decided to become a full-time jewelry designer. To hone her technical skills, she sought out instructors working at design schools in New York. They worked with her privately to develop her skills and relationships in a complex world of suppliers.

Elizabeth is discerning about materials when she goes on sourcing trips. “When you’ve seen as much jewelry as I’ve seen, it has to be very different. Unless it jumps out at me, I’m not interested,” she says. “It has to be spectacular.”

As a world traveler, Elizabeth’s designs are influenced by her adventures. “I spent a semester in London in college and was exposed to a more old-world way of doing things,” she says. “As an adult, I’ve traveled to Paris, Italy and the Netherlands often.” The exposure is evident in her work. For example, her Cherish Collection has a delightfully Edwardian influence.

One incredible piece is a bejeweled miniature portrait of her Italian greyhound, Linus. “I had just gotten a puppy and was over the moon for this dog,” she says. “I wanted to do something special to commemorate him, and I didn’t want a painting over the mantel or on my wall. I wanted something tasteful I could display and wear.”

She sought out a miniature oil portrait artist whose paintings are so small and detailed that she often paints with a special brush that holds just one horse’s hair. Then Elizabeth created a platinum locket surrounded by alternating smooth cabochon sapphires and emerald-shaped peridot to hold the painting. It can be worn on a necklace or displayed.

Elizabeth’s work differs from most because she focuses on what the piece will mean to the wearer and how she will see it. For example, she devotes attention to ensuring a ring’s sides and profiles are just as beautiful as the top. “That’s how the woman who wears it will see it most often,” she says.

Elizabeth loves designing exceptional works that are meaningful ways to represent love, the pride of accomplishment and shared memories. Contact her for a private appointment or preview. *

Robin Howard is a freelance writer in Charleston. See more of her work at robinhowardwrites.com.

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