Austin has a distinct makers culture. Rather than turn to pricey designer brands, many locals opt to purchase Austin-made, locally inspired provisions. We looked to independent designers emerging in our city with acute vision and aesthetic, and particular attention to geometric shapes, eye-catching stones, bright and bold colors, and American-sourced materials.
Want to add a handful of unique pieces to your jewelry collection? If so, meet five of our favorite small-scale jewelry makers that embody true Austin style.
A self-taught jewelry maker, Amanda Eddy has spent years playing with U.S.-sourced materials such as gold, silver, and rose gold. Eddy loves to rework vintage pieces and deconstruct store-bought accessories, in addition to composing her own line with online store Amanda Deer, which features stand-out geometric and gemstone goods.
“I love the look of a delicate necklace or bracelet — that barely there piece you can wear everyday,” she says.
When crafting her accessories, Eddy imagines staple pieces that are an extension of her style — simple yet modern. “I try and create dainty and delicate jewelry that can elevate a plain T-shirt or a playful dress,” she says.
As an Austin maker, Eddy has found the local community to be a great place to grow her emerging business. “Austin is incredibly welcoming to small businesses. In fact, many boutiques around town would rather carry a local artisan than a major chain,” she says. “It’s that type of mentality that makes me love this city and be incredibly proud to be an Austinite.”
You can find Amanda Deer in places like Longhorn Fashions, Parts & Labour, Dolce Blu, Sikara, and Capra & Cavelli.
Shortly after graduating from the fashion program at Parsons School of Design, Catherine Cottingham developed an interest in jewelry construction, earning the praise of popular media outlets like Women’s Wear Daily.
Twelve years later, Cottingham is still knee deep in the fashion trade. She says she wants her jewelry to “feel like you’re telling the world something about your personality by wearing it. Like a painting that perfectly ties your home together.”
Materials sourced from all over the world like porous, bright-carved gems and gold are prevalent in Cottingham’s beautiful work. “I love the textiles, colors, tiles, and architecture I’ve seen in my travels, and I often draw inspiration from there ... Anything that moves me can lead to new ideas.”
Cottingham is also largely inspired by Austin culture. “People in Austin like to do their own thing,“ she says. “They value the art of assembling an outfit from pieces, more than simply buying an expensive piece. They pull looks from distant eras and experiment with old pieces, new pieces, and pieces from conflicting decades. I find great inspiration in the confident, original, and creative women here.”
After taking a jewelry-making class her last semester in college at the University of Texas, Haley Lebeuf quickly fell in love with the trade. “The process just felt right to me, almost like a meditation,” she says. “I come from a family of makers, artists, and crafters, so jewelry satisfies my innate desire to make something with my hands.”
Lebeuf approaches her work with a modern, minimalist eye, often embracing a “Texas twist” with silver and druzy materials. “I love '60s fashion and design, so I often incorporate those themes into my work. I design pieces that I want to wear,” she says.
The themes and styles of Lebeuf’s pieces are often drawn from places she’s visited and events that transpire in her life. She particularly loves the Texas Hill Country, and her latest collection, Voyager, is based on a recent trip to Big Bend.
“Jewelry has such a strong connection to family and is an important part of our everyday lives,” she says. “I am mindful of how a piece will feel when you wear it, like if you can wear it multiple ways or if your daughter wants to wear it one day.”
Stitch and Stone
As a child, Michele Rootstein watched her parents run a jewelry business and travel across the country to different craft fairs and festivals. “As I got older, I was encouraged to make some of my own designs and sell them at the markets,” she says. “It was such a thrill when I would sell things that I made.”
Embracing a vintage, bohemian style, Rootstein designs her pieces around the individual beauty of natural stones and materials. She also likes to utilize elements from different countries she’s visited, as well as Austin and New York, where she is originally from.
“From the time I first visited Austin, I was so impressed by the people and culture of the city. Selling my jewelry on South Congress every weekend has given me an opportunity to experience a part of the city that gives Austin the great reputation that it has,” she says.
You can find Stitch and Stone at Sanctuary, the Blanton Museum gift shop, and the Snack Bar artisans market every Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm.
Kim Norrell was up late one night to feed her newborn son and spotted a cute pair of earrings on TV. “For some odd reason I thought to myself, ‘I wonder if I could make those,’” she says. “Maybe it was my sleep-deprived delirium, but the more I thought about it the more interested I became in learning what the process of jewelry making looked like.”
Norrell’s interest and talent grew immensely through trial and error. Through her online store, Dainty Doe, Norrell has created affordable pieces that embody simplicity, femininity, and elegance with delicate chains, tiny stones, and light colors.
“I love using chalcedony, turquoise, opals, crystals, and pyrite,” she says. “My favorite places to source materials are gem shows or jewelry-supply shops where I can see and feel the materials in person.”
Nature is at the forefront of Norrell's designs, which often include leaves and flowers. As a working mom, Norrell also uses the theme of motherhood. “I love creating pieces that have meaning or are symbolic in some way. My custom birthstone gem bar necklaces and family tree necklaces both were inspired by gifts I wanted to create for loved ones, including my own mom, and these have ended up being some of my most popular pieces.”