Southern Made: contemporary jewelry artists

Make a statement

Atlanta’s Debra Lynn Gold finds joy at the jeweler’s bench, and it shows in her sculptural and playful metal jewelry.

Background: Gold’s love of jewelry was whetted in a small-town art school in Mexico one summer vacation during college. She returned to Indiana University and graduated with a Masters of Fine Arts degree in Jewelry Design and Silversmithing. After grad school, Gold landed her first teaching job as a college art professor in Tennessee.

The company: In 1983, Gold moved to Atlanta and opened her Debra Lynn Gold Jewelry Studio.

The goods: Cluster, choker, long charm and lariat necklaces ($250-$500); earrings ($100-$250); bracelets ($80-$250); and brooches ($100). The playfulness comes as parts rotate, interlock, slide, spin, flex and flip.

Materials: Primarily sterling silver. But Gold also uses stainless steel for structural considerations and aluminum for lightness, and, most importantly, for color.

What’s popular: Earrings, but recently, her new stackable bracelets ($80).

Big break: In addition to having her work in numerous private collections, she’s proud to have pieces included in the permanent art collections of the state of Georgia and the city of Atlanta’s Office of Cultural Affairs.

Unusual request: “A good customer asked me to design a custom necklace incorporating a mechanical heart valve like the one that had recently saved her life,” Gold said. “It was challenging — and extremely gratifying.”

What’s next: Getting reacquainted with stones and other unusual materials. Hematite and lava stones are on her bench right now. Stay tuned.

Where to buy:

Metal & modern

Award-winning jewelry artist Megan Clark had planned to pursue fashion design at Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah. But when she was shut out of a fashion class, Clark signed up for a metals class as an elective. Weeks later, Clark changed her major — and never looked back.

Background: After graduating in 2005 with a degree in metals and jewelry, Clark moved to Raleigh, N.C., where she worked and refined her skills as a bench jeweler for several years before going out on her own.

The company: Started Megan Clark Jewelry in 2009 and became incorporated in 2012. She originally worked out of her home, but in 2010, she moved her studio to Artspace, a repurposed warehouse, in downtown Raleigh.

The goods: Earrings ($95-$2,100); necklaces ($295-$10,500); bracelets ($900-$3,650); rings ($165-$2,150); cufflinks ($315-$695); and brooches ($415-$925). Clark, who does not mold, stamp or laser-cut her work, fabricates each piece by hand.

Her style: Often described as “industrial elegance.”

Materials: Sterling, 18-karat yellow gold and natural gemstones (mostly diamonds, rough diamonds, and fancy sapphires). In 2010, she began incorporating stingray leather into her work after seeing it used on a handbag.

What’s haute: Stingray pendants ($295 and up); oxidized sterling earrings ($95-$165); sterling and gold earrings ($265 and up); and stacking rings ($195-$1,500).

Claim to fame: In 2013, she received a Saul Bell Design Award for her “Stingray Feathers” necklace, which was featured on the cover of Lark Books’ “500 Art Necklaces.”

What’s next: Adding to her men’s jewelry line by incorporating more color through the use of stones.

Where to buy: Also the annual American Craft Council show in Atlanta on March 13-15, 2015.

Glass act

Kate Rothra Fleming loves wearing distinctive jewelry. The South Carolina glass jewelry artist also likes designing it. For her, glass yields endless possibilities for color, texture and form.

Background: She grew up in Miami and earned degrees from the University of Florida and the Rochester Institute of Technology. Later, she worked for the Peace Corps as an art teacher in Botswana, where she became fascinated with cultural jewelry. In 2000, the primarily self-taught glass artist and jewelry designer opened her studio in Charleston, S.C.

The goods: Necklaces ($125 and up); earrings ($48-$325); rings ($60); and the new creature bracelets ($325-$525), using hollow beads and high silver glass.

Materials: Flameworked glass and sterling silver. “It is almost magical how glass lends itself to mimic different natural materials (like amber, stone, wood and alabaster),” said Rothra Fleming.

Big break: Collaborated with emerging designer Vartika Vikram for Charleston Fashion Week in 2012.

Claim to fame: Named one of the Top 40 International Beadmakers by Glass Line Magazine. Recently taught a workshop at Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina.

Side project: In 2010, she and her husband purchased Ocho Verde wildlife preserve, a private rainforest reserve and artist’s retreat in Costa Rica, where they are setting up a glass studio and heavily involved in wildlife conservation. Learn more at

Where to buy: Also the annual American Craft Council show in Atlanta on March 13-15, 2015.

Best of the South

Do you have favorite finds from around the South that you give as gifts, buy for your home or rave about to friends? If so, please send your suggestions to: Also find more Southern-made products, featured in the AJC, at Southernfinds on Facebook or twitter@southernfinds1.

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