From classic and chic to ultra-chunky, these five Dallas artists make one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces for every taste.
Shamsy Roomiani, Shamsy Handmade Goods
Dallas artist Shamsy Roomiani, best known as simply Shamsy, didn’t set out to make jewelry. Rather making her “wearable art” is something that evolved naturally through her work. The key to her wearable art pieces is her Shamstone sculptures. They look like crystals, but they’re actually made out of plant-based resin (aka “magical soup”), which is what gives them their unique look. She started making the Shamstones for a different art project a couple of years ago. “They turned out really cool and people kept saying they wanted to wear them, so I decided to make a jewelry line out of them,” she says. “They are unique one-of-a-kind pieces. They’re very big statement, chunky pieces.” The artist's wearable art is inspired primarily by the outdoors. “My whole art umbrella is focused on the natural world,” she says, which is why Shamsy chooses to use a plant-based resin for her stones. “It’s very important to me. It costs a lot more, so it’s a step that most people do not take, but I’m very conscious of what I’m putting out there in the world.” Oh, and just in case you’re not already convinced you need a Shamstone, all the stones are fluorescent, which means they glow under a UV light, as well as phosphorescence, which means they also glow in the dark.
Taylor Turner, Hazen & Co.
We’re pretty sure most moms secretly hate having to wear the jewelry their kids make, but most moms aren’t Taylor Turner’s mom. Turner has been designing and selling jewelry since 2002, when she was only 9. After taking a jewelry-making class, she used her savings to buy supplies and precious stones, which she turned into jewelry that she kept in a shoebox and sold at her brother’s baseball games. She used the profits to buy more supplies and repeated the process. “Everything was one-of-a-kind and handmade,” Turner says. “People still have these and still wear them, so they’ve clearly lasted.” Turner’s mom was also a particularly valuable asset. “My mom would wear them out and sell them right off her neck,” Turner says. “Almost every day she would wear something out and come back with a check.” Turner’s mother also sold her pieces at trunk shows. “I remember calling my mom to see how the trunk show went and finding out we’d sold all the jewelry,” she says. By age 10 Turner was hosting her own trunk shows and selling her pieces in several stores. But despite her early success, Turner says, “I never saw myself doing this full time.” She went to school at Southern Methodist University for marketing and continued to sell her work. Then something clicked. “My freshman year I thought, ‘Maybe this is what I’m supposed to do.’” After graduation she hired her first employee. Later she rebranded her company as Hazen & Co. and hired more employees, and earlier this year Turner opened her first retail store in Dallas, where she continues to sell her beautiful chic pieces.
Tiffany Forsberg, Tiffany’s Fine Jewelry
Tiffany Forsberg was always surrounded by art growing up. “My mom was always creating fun for us,” she remembers. But Forsberg was also driven to be successful in order to avoid some of the stressors she experienced in her young life. After high school she spent 17 years working for Ylang23, which at the time was called Ylang Ylang, a company that specializes in one-of-a-kind designer jewelry. “I helped grow that company from around $180,000 in sales to probably $8 mil,” she says. “By the time I left, I was very close to the L.A. and New York designers that we sold. I saw how they ran their businesses and how they marketed themselves.” Forsberg was recruited by Stanley Korshak, where she worked for two years but then left to spend more time with her family, Forsberg began designing her own jewelry, starting with a high-end bohemian line. “By then I had an amazing book of clients,” she says. “When they saw what I was doing, they all came out and supported me.” She soon started a second line as well. “I started designing red carpet pieces, designing and having made jewelry you would see on the red carpet and on celebrities.” As her business grew, she loved the flexibility that working for herself afforded her, and she loved to explore her own creativity. “I’m at the point in my life where I just want to have fun. If it’s not fun, I’m not doing it,” she concludes. “I’m going to do something different every day, and it’s going to be the best day ever and I’m going to create something lasting that people can get enjoyment from.”
Leann Burns, Love Actually Jewelry
It’s all about stones for jewelry craftswoman Leann Burns. “I developed a love of gemstones, and that’s really the foundation of my jewelry,” she says. “That’s really how I got to where I am today ... continuing to discover gemstones and fall in love with them and figure out how to use them in my art.” Although Burns doesn’t cut the stones herself — a skill she hopes to learn — “the metal work is all me,” she says. Aside from her obsession with gemstones, Burns says she also has a great love for tools and what others would deem tedious work, so making jewelry is the perfect fit for her. For decades she simply studied and collected gemstones and beads, sometimes making simple beaded jewelry. “But I felt like that wasn’t enough,” she says. “It wasn’t fulfilling the potential of what I wanted to make.” Five years ago, Burns decided to take up metalsmithing. “That way I could take all the gemstones that I’d been stashing and turn them into something that the world can see,” she says. “All of my jewelry, the purpose of it, is to express a respect and a love of the natural world. It’s a way to hold the natural world up and keep it near me and to be able to view it anytime, even if I’m sitting inside a building. I can look down at my jewelry and feel connected to nature.”
Xanthis Barthel, Beautiful Again
Xanthis Barthel is still figuring out her artistic niche, but she knows one thing for sure. “I’ve always had an appreciation for nature, even the spooky bits,” she says. “I was seeing a bunch of oddity shops on Instagram, but none of them ever specified whether or not their pieces were cruelty free.” That’s where she got the idea to make jewelry out of old bones she already had on hand. “At the time I was living on a sizable piece of land and I had amassed a collection of animal bones just from finding them,” she says. “I started making jewelry just for myself, and I got enough compliments on it to make me think about starting my own business.” She started her shop, Beautiful Again, two years ago, and her wearable art has a strong message behind it. “We shouldn’t run from all the things that scare us,” she says. “Death is a very scary subject that most people try to avoid, which in a business sense I’ve run into that wall. People will say, ‘Oh that’s a cool piece but that’s a dead thing and I don’t want that near me.’” But despite the unease that some people have towards her art form, she has found success selling her jewelry within alternative communities — mostly goth and the “extremely artistic,” she says. She also makes jewelry from natural elements that aren’t bones. “Like flowers, which is great because flowers are pretty,” she says. Plus they don’t typically scare people, so there’s that.
Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.